Major civic events and festivals are a special time in the Edmonton. Think of Canada Day, New Year’s Eve in the Square, Heritage Festival, Fringe Festival ( and the many other events during the year) when masses of people gather together to celebrate and take part in the related festivities. The crowds transform the everyday space where the event is held and make you feel part of something significant. For the rest of the year, whenever you are in that spot again you may find yourself reminded of that event and even think things like, “Oh, this would be a good spot to watch the fireworks next year,” or “Wow, it’s amazing that this park can hold so many people and then seem so calm and serene now.” However, we can count on most of these events to happen every year. The Olympic Torch Relay in Edmonton… well that happens only once*. And it happens tomorrow.
Approximately 50 torchbearers will carry the Olympic flame through the City of Edmonton starting at 4:12pm at the intersection of Yellowhead Trail and St. Albert Trail. The route continues south down Groat Road until 107 Avenue to Hawrelak Park. After a short break in the park, torchbearers will continue along Groat Road on the south side at 5pm.
Spectators are invited to cheer on the torchbearers along the main leg of the relay as the torch is carried past the University of Alberta main campus, down Whyte Avenue, across the Walterdale Bridge, to the Alberta Legislature, down Jasper Avenue with a final stop in Churchill Square where Olympian Doreen Ryan will light the community cauldron at approximately 7pm.
Stage shows and roving entertainment are set up along the parade route to keep spectators entertained before and after the Olympic flame passes by. These spots include:
The relay will conclude with a celebration in Sir Winston Churchill Square where local artists, entertainers and musicians – including rap artist Cadence Weapon, contemporary Aboriginal women’s a cappella trio Asani and the ukulele cover band The Be Arthurs – will entertain the crowd.
With the mild temperatures expected tomorrow, there is even more reason to come out and participate, wearing red and cheering on the torchbearers. I’ll be waiting at Churchill Square along with many other Edmontonians, taking photos and video to post on the blog and share on the City’s photo gallery. You might be hard pressed to pick me out of the crowd, since I’m sure that like the majority of the people there I’ll be wearing red in the form of Olympic mittens (an unexpected but convenient gift over the holidays). Tomorrow will be an exciting day in Edmonton. This isn’t something that I want to miss and nor should you.
*Okay, maybe there is a slight possibility that the Torch Relay could happen again at some point in the distant future. But that’s a long way’s away. Don’t wait for it.