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The flame is passed at the West Kelowna celebration. (Photo by Elisha Dacey)
The flame is passed at the West Kelowna celebration. (Photo by Elisha Dacey)

Enthusiastic crowds welcome torch

by - Story: 52282

They started lining up as early as 3 p.m., waiting on the side of Shannon Lake Road to get a glimpse of the torch.

"I got here just before three," says West Kelowna resident Kim Mackey, who was sitting in her car to keep warm. "I wanted to be sure we got our chance to see the torch as it went through here."

Hundreds of people crowded the sidewalk as the flame began to wind its way through West Kelowna, preceded by caravans staffed by perky people handing out Coca-Cola flags and RBC pins, and followed by RCMP. Both RBC and Coca-Cola are major sponsors of the Olympics.

The West Kelowna seniors chapter of the Canadian Jewels were even on hand, many wearing red Olympic mittens and all of them wearing red and carrying balloons.

"How could we not be here," says one of the members. "It's so exciting."

By 5:30 p.m., the flame had wound its way around to Ross Road, where at least 1,000 people waited on the grounds of Royal LePage Place to cheer on the Torchbearers.

Emcee Steve Francis kept the crowd chanting and screaming until West Kelowna torchbearer Jonathan Neitsch, 16, ran his way into the cheering throng. Jonathan passed the flame onto the next torchbearer and was then congratulated by West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater.

Most of the crowd thinned at that point, but hundreds stayed behind to take part in the music and celebrations, and the free family skate at the arena afterwards.

The flame then made its way to Kelowna for the official Kelowna celebrations, beginning at 6 p.m.

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