Olympic Flame Sets Cornwall Alight
CORNWALL ONTARIO – The Olympic Spirit took hold of Cornwall as citizens of all ages welcomed the Olympic Flame into the community. Ignoring overcast skies, people gathered from 9:00 am in Lamoureux Park, adding colour and brightening what would otherwise have been just another dreary winter day.
For the torch bearers, it was serious business as they received last minute instructions. Today will be an unforgettable day, especially for Ric Saaltink, running in honour and memory of his daughter Heather, tragically killed on Highway 138.
Cornwall and area school children arrived in full force – not only was it time off school, but for many it was their first real experience of any Olympic event. But the older people waiting to greet the flame showed their excitement too.
The Montreal Olympics had Mayor Drapeau’s; the Calgary Olympics belonged to (at that time) Calgary Mayor Ralph Klein; but the 2010 event will be the first ever truly Canadian Olympic Games.
Cornwall radio personality Dan Allaire as master of ceremonies, took charge of the celebrations, setting the crowd on fire in anticipation of the Flame. A highlight of the morning’s wait were St Joe’s student Danyelle Tessier and la Citadel student Robyn Leroux, supported by the Studio C Dancers. Together they moved the onlookers with a stirring rendition of Cornwall’s Olympic Anthem, “From Cornwall to Vancouver.”
The highlight of the day came as Ric Saaltink ran the last hundred metres to the podium, cheered on by the crowd, waving the Olympic Flame high for all to see, and finally managing to mount the podium and light the cauldron.
“This is an overwhelming honour and a wonderful tribute. This is what Heather believed in, and despite this senseless loss, we are here to celebrate.”
MP Guy Lauzon commented that it is occasions such as this that prove that Canada is “…strong, free and proud.”
Mayor Bob Kilger told the assembly that the Olympic Flame “…allowed us to come together as a community. The Saaltinks represent what is best about Cornwall.
“For many of us, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We must keep the spirit of the torch here in Cornwall and be proud of our community.”
Former Olympic athletes Melanie Banville and Laurie Dupuis advised everyone “… to listen to your dreams…,” and “…believe in yourself.”
But for one little girl and her mother, today’s ceremony will be a special memory.
Ariana, daughter of Neda Amani Golshani, says it all with her homemade banner.
(photos courtesy of Richard Komorowski)
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