Our Olympic moment

Christopher Gooding
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Torch relay swings through Amherst

AMHERST - The skies were overcast Saturday morning, but the beacon of the Olympic torch was more than enough to ignite patriotism and pride in the hearts if hundreds as it made its way through Amherst.
More than 12,000 torchbearers will carry the flame across Canada to its final destination at the Vancouver Olympics in February. Day 23 of the 106-day relay was bestowed upon Amherst.
"I'm super excited it's come here," Amherst Mayor Robert Small said from the steps of town hall in advance of the relay.
"Really, it's an honour for it to be in Amherst and for the people in our community to experience this once-in-a-lifetime Olympic event is a wonderful opportunity. This is what Canada is all about."
As torchbearers Keith Hotchkiss, Patrick Wilmot and Barry Tomlin prepared to take the flame west from Amherst Town Hall toward Prince Edward Island, Olympic shuttle host Billy Pilon gave an enthusiastic briefing on the importance of this particular Olympic torch relay.
"For the first time, 90 per cent of all Canadians will have the torch within a one-hour drive of their communities," Pilon said. "The torch will travel 45,000 kilometres in 106 days bringing the Olympics to Canadians in 1,036 communities."
To reach these communities, Pilon explained, the flame will travel by plane, train and automobile as alternative modes of transportation when not in the hands of torchbearers who will travel by land and sea. Canada has presented new ground for the flame, which was ignited in Greece.
"It's been surfing in Tofino, B.C. and in rowing canoes," said Pilon.
None of the torchbearers were from Amherst, but their determination to build better communities make them the type of ambassadors the Olympics want carrying the flame to bring communities closer together, Pilon said.
On Wednesday, Amherst resident Daren White carried the flame through Enfield, and Matthew Smith, formerly of Amherst, carried the flame through North Sydney a week ago.
To be a torchbearer for Amherst, Patrick Wilmot said, was a tremendous opportunity that didn't happen overnight.
"During the summer, I run a canoe and kayak program at Indian Brook and there were these ladies who asked if could run a marathon. I told them maybe I could run half a marathon and then they asked if I would hold the torch," Wilmot said.
"I was honoured."
Wilmot was second in line to "kiss" the torch in Amherst. Barry Tomlin had the honour of igniting his torch on the steps of town hall from the flame of a lantern first ignited in Greece.
Proceeding from town hall to Victoria Street, Tomlin and much of the crowd made their way to Wilmot where the two torches touched and the flame was passed on. Wilmot would meet Hotchkiss, where again, the flame was relayed from one torch to the next and headed for its next stop in P.E.I.

cgooding@springhillrecord.com

Geographic location: Amherst, Canada, Prince Edward Island Greece Tofino North Sydney Indian Brook Victoria Street

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Recent comments

  • Jillian
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Is there any other pictures that the newspaper staff took? Id love to see more!

  • us
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Unfortunatly i did not get to witness this as it did not travel all the way down West Victoria Street. My family and I, all bundled up stood at the end of our driveway on West Vicotria stree for 45 minutes waiting for the torch convoy to pass by. The paper the friday before said that it would go down west vicotria street. I understood it went partly down West Victoria street but stopped somewhere between Haliburton and Hickman. What a disapppointment.

  • amherstman
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Just returned home from Sackville....wow, made Amherst look even sillier. It was a shame that things were so poorly organized in Amherst. i was there and saw the disappointment on the faces of those who arrived at 10 to see the flame, only to see that it was gone....left at 9:50.

    Thanks to Daren White however for being his usually wonderful, generous self. He allowed so many of us to share in the dream by posing for pictures and letting people hold the torch.

    Thanks daren for saving the day.......