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Kelowna bids emotional adieu to Olympic torch

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 | 10:55 am

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Retired Kelowna fire chief Gerry Zimmerman (right) receives the flame from Reg Marte of Kelowna as he begins his stretch of the Olympic torch relay along Springfield Road early Tuesday morning. Zimmerman was escorted on his portion by a group of Kelowna firefighters. (Photo Chris Stanfo

By Adrian Nieoczym

Crowds lined the street as the Olympic torch and its corporate entourage made their way towards their final Kelowna stop at Rutland Senior Secondary school this morning. Elementary school students clapped their RBC bang sticks together while adults waved their Coca Cola flags.

But while the two promotional floats representing those companies drew warm responses from the throngs along the road, it was the Olympic flame which drew the most enthusiastic cheers.

Tyler Darroch

“Very, very thrilling,” was how 10-year-old Tyler Darroch described the experience of seeing the Olympic flame up close.

Asked why it was so thrilling, he replied, “because it came all the way from Greece and is going to Vancouver.”

It turns out Darroch and his classmates were well prepared for today’s festivities as his teacher has been working Olympic themes into their lessons.

The chairman of the Central Okanagan Board of Education, Rolli Cacchioni, explained that the province’s Ministry of Education sent out Olympic related educational materials for use in classrooms.

“Many teachers have used those, particularly at the elementary level,” he said.

Rolli Cacchioni

Cacchioni described having the Winter Olympics in B.C. as “a once in a lifetime event.”

“It’s just a great thing for our children, and also for our adults,” he said. “I’m excited about it.”

On this day, enthusiasm for the Games was a cross-generational affair. Across the street from RSS is the Sun Pointe Village seniors residence, where residents bundled up to protect themselves from the chilly air and took seats set up for them next to the roadway.

Frieda Harley, 77, said she got to experience the Summer Olympics in 1948 when they were held in England.

Frieda Harley

“But this is the first time I’ve seen them in Canada and it’s exciting,” she said. “I’m happy I can sit here and watch the flame.”

Harley said what she likes most about the Olympics is watching what the athletes can do. “It amazes me, it really does. It takes so much training.”

The torch is now making it’s way to Lake Country.


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