Sharing The Torch Experience…

Much has been said about the Olympic cauldron.

Even I had a blurb, not so much about the cauldron itself, but about one fine Canadian’s attempts to help folks have better pictures of the cauldron.

Earlier this week, I was contacted by another one of the Torch runners from Pitt Meadows, who let me know that on Saturday, a few Torch runners were going down to the Olympic cauldron, to take pictures.

I was in !

So it was, that at 11:30 on Saturday morning, I found myself, along with my Torch runners’ uniform  and Torch, down at the Olympic cauldron.

The cauldron viewing area itself, has been improved, quite dramatically, from what it was.

It took me a few minutes to see the other Torch runners, as they were off to one side.

Meeting of the Torches

Eventually we collected, were interviewed for CTV and a few other TV networks, and joined by a 7  foot tall Russian character, promoting the 2014 Winter Games in Russia.

Then the fun started.

People are enamored with the Torch, and the Torch experience.

Perhaps second only to the Mapleleaf, it has become symbolic of these Games.

However, unlike the Team Canada Jerseys, and Canada Hoodies, which have become wonderfully ubiquitous, the Olympic Torch has been something which only a lucky few get to experience.

Yesterday, I got to share that experience with hundreds of people.

It started as a series of double takes from folks near by, and an incredulous “Is that a REAL Torch?”  Followed by a pleading… “Would you take a picture with me?”

Over the next seven hours, I shared the Torch, and took pictures with people from all over the globe.  I met people from Mexico, Germany, China, Japan, Africa, Norway, Turkey and a lot from the Vancouver area.  Quite a number were unable to speak English, so I don’t know where they came from.  Quite a few who recognized me from my run in Pitt Meadows.  One lady, (who I hope reads this and contacts me,) was with me, as I waited to run my leg of the relay.  After a while, I stopped asking where people were from, because I realized, it didn’t matter.  People seemed to be universally grateful for a chance to take a picture with the Olympic Torch, and it didn’t matter where they were from.

Most people were grateful, and most children thanked me without being prompted.  The folks were polite, and generally patient, as they crowded in from all sides.  I tried, as much as possible to help people in order, but families with children got preference from me, and that may have irked some people… but, not my problem.

“Why are you doing this?!?”was another question… because while folks are getting used to lining up, and the line-ups are usually pretty well organized, an ad hoc opportunity like this, without stanchions or supervisors, seemed unusual to people.  My reply was “Because I wanted to share my good fortune.”

People were nervous, and felt pressured to take a picture.  I tried to make sure that everyone got a chance to take a good picture —  that the Olympic logo on the Torch was showing, and tried to make sure no one’s face was obstructed by the Torch.  Several people got mad at me, when I told them they had turned off the camera, instead of taking a picture… Some of them came back, later, because their photos “didn’t turn out”  😳

Many times a husband waved off the offer of switching out with a spouse, to get a photo, only to show up, sheepishly, a short time later, after having thought it over !!! 😆

Finally, when it was getting dark, and harder to see, I was able to tuck the Torch away, and head home through the crowds… tired, but happy.

I’m proud that I hung in so that everyone that asked for a picture, got a chance to take one…  I’m glad that I was able to share an Olympic Torch with so many people… And I’m again SO thankful for the opportunity that I got to do this.

The Olympics are about the World coming together, for a shared experience.  On a very tiny level, I participated in that experience yesterday.