Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Olympic Torch Relay

For those of you who know us well, know that we are very proud Canadians. Need I remind you of this picture taken in China 2 years ago?

So when Gord was selected amongst 7 million applicants to be an official torchbearer for the Vancouver 2010 Oylmpic Games, we were beyond thrilled! And what an honour that was bestowed upon him! We knew it would be a great day but we didn't really know HOW truly great it would be!

Here's my account of the day, Thursday December 10th, 2009:

Apparently, Gord had trouble sleeping the night before from all the excitement. I, on the other hand, slept quite well :) The girls did not go to school that day as we obviously wanted them to be part of this very special day. Cara-Li made signs while I prepared some nibbles and things for our friends for after the run. Gord was getting nervous so he decided that he would go outside to shovel snow in order to clear his head. Really! I was not undestanding it but whatever. He had to be at our town hall at 12 noon to meet up with the other torchbearers eventhough he was not scheduled until 2:09PM. We left the house at 11:30 as he wanted to make an appearance at our local RBC bank where he is a customer. RBC is where Gord sent his application in to be torchbearer. Upon entering the branch, every employee jumped out of their seats with camera in hand to have their picture taken with him. And so here it began. Who knew everyone wanted to be photographed with a torchbearer! Including the 2 big guys working at the bank that came out of their offices ever so slowly...

As we continued our walk down the street, people were jumping out of the stores to wish him well and cars were honking away. Wow! This was only the beginning. He didn't even have the torch in hand yet. I dropped him off at his meeting and then I ran home to continue with my set up.

I had planned to be at his starting point at app. 1:30PM to be able to park close enough and scout out things. That is until I got a call from my BIL who was on site early and mentionned that it was getting pretty crowded. So we all jumped into the car, the 2 girls, J, our nanny and L, my BFF. At this point I realized that they were clearing the snow on our street and that we were being plowed in. Not a chance! I drove that truck right over the snowbank and was ready to take on the dude that was waving me down! I had a torch relay to see!

We arrived, parked and then noticed what was going on. They had set up stands in the parking lot of the shopping center to accomodate lots and lots of people. And then they started coming! My cell phone would not stop ringing and I was freaking out! Many of our friends and family arrived to be part of this momentous moment. I had all my Canadian gear on, camera around my neck and a pile of Canadian flags that I had brought to had out to our friends. People were beginning to ask me for flags and wondering if I was the organizer :) One woman even said that I had done such a great job in setting all this up. Too funny! I had nothing to do with it. I was just their to see my husband carry the torch!

About a month ago, Gord decided to hire a videographer and photographer to record the event, much to my relief! I was getting really worried about taking pictures for him and failing. Now whatever pictures I did take were just extras. No stress! I was to take photos while L had the video camera. And we decided that we would run along side him. This proved not to be that simple. Snowbanks, crowds and cars got in the way.

Finally, after over an hour long wait, we could see the police cars arriving followed by the RBC and Coca-Cola trucks announcing the upcoming arrival of Gordon Farrell, the torchbearer. And the crowd went wild! Next thing you know, the bus stops and out he comes in full gear and bearing the torch with the hugest smile on his face! He looked a little panicked as he scanned the crowd looking for us. He made sure that we got our picture taken with him first before everyone jumped in with their requests. And there were many flashes going off while we waited the arrival of the flame. It was crazy!

And suddenly there it was, the Olmpic Flame coming along on a bike. Gord got into position as he was told and boom there was Gord's torch lit with the Olympic flame. Man! This is when you really feel it, the power that this symbol has. I was quite emotional to be in the presence of this flame that came all the way from Greece. The crowd went crazy! They must have felt it too.

Anyway, now with his torch lit, Gord began his run ever so slowly trying to savour the moment, trying to take it all in. I could tell that it was all too much for him and thus even more important for us to capture the moment on film for him for future viewing. So we all ran after him or in front of him to try to do just that. But those guys running along side him are RCMP officers and they were none too pleased with us. We were told many a times to get back on the sidewalk but somehow that did not seem to register :) Suddenly, Gord was asked to stop, unbenounced to him, to greet the mayor of Cote St. Luc and a few other officials. After being welcomed to the City of Cote St. Luc, Gord continued on on his final journey. Before we all knew it, the end was in sight as we saw the next torchbearer getting into position. He passed the flame on and Gord's torch was turned off. This glorious moment that will be forever engraved in our minds and hearts was over. He was escorted back into the bus to continue the relay with the fellow torchbearers and we all gathered once again, frozen through, to head back some for some celebratory drinks while we waited for his return.

After about an hour, I heard cheers from the front window as someone saw Gord running up to the house with about 5 teenagers in tow. They were all standing around taking each other's picture when I went out. What we didn't know was that when Gord got out of Town Hall, there was no one waiting for him (Of course, not! We were all home drinkin'!) So as he began his walk home, the kids stopped to ask if that was the REAL torch to which Gord said YES! They asked if they could hold it but Gord being his sly self, told them they could if they could catch him. These kids chased him down the street over the train tracks to our house before he stopped. At this point, he let them hold it! And he was not alone on his walk home. Smart!

We celebrated a little before Gord's surprise arrived. He rented a limobus that could hold 14 people to take us all out to chase the torch throughout the city. He had the itinarary written down (thanks to L) and that is exactly what we did. We caught up with it in Westmount but then had trouble seeing it again due to traffic so we opted to go straight to Place Jacques Cartier, the torch's final destination for the day and site of the evening celebrations. Good thing we had our snowsuits on as it was cold! The was some protests going on and the entire evening's plans was delayed by about an hour. We waited for the lighting of the cauldron and called it a night. It was enough for a day! A fabulous day at that!


Julie said...

Wow, how incredible! My husband was sad that he had not thought of applying to be a torchbearer.

Do they give them the snow suits? I noticed all the other runners had the same one.

Leanne said...

Wow, that is incredible! And you tell it so well, it is very gripping and emotional and one feels really involved! Thanks for sharing that! Congratulations!

Wanda said...

Wow.....what an absolute thrill. Congratulations. Now that's a memory to cherish forever.