Okanagan Falls and Kaleden received their 15 minutes of national fame on Monday as the Olympic torch relay made its way through the South Okanagan.
Beginning at the south end of Okanagan Falls, at the welcome sign, a veritable convoy of sponsor trucks – RBC, Coca -Cola and Vanoc representatives converged on Highway 97 at 11:30 a.m.. Four runners transferred the torch through the town, with a celebratory lunch planned to follow at the community centre on Cedar Street.
Followed by an entourage of local supporters, guide runners, and pursuit vehicles of varying description, the runners followed Highway 97 to Eleventh Street, and on to Tenth Avenue where a phalanx of elementary school students and townspeople massed to cheer on the torch bearers. Then it was on to Cedar Avenue and back to the highway at the north end of town .
At the termination of the run in front of the OK Corral plaza, the torch convoy then moved down the road to pick up the torch relay again at the corner of Lakehill and Highway 97 in Kaleden. Once again, hundreds of locals turned out under partly cloudy skies and moderate temperatures to watch another four torch bearers move the relay north on Highway 97 to Ash Avenue. Students from Kaleden Elementary school were on hand, as were several members of the Kaleden Volunteer Fire Department, lending voices and sirens to the crowd of well wishers.
Several well wishers were seen waiting for the relay, sitting in lawn chairs at the corner of White Lake Road and Highway 97. Unfortunately for them, the torch was transported between the two towns, as it has over much of the national route.
Torch relay sponsors RBC and Coca-Cola passed through the crowds lining the highway, handing out souvenir items to many in the crowd. Fifty personnel from RBC took part in the proceedings, along with 14 trucks. Co-sponsor Coca- Cola had at least as many vehicles involved, as the bright red trucks could be seen moving up and down Highway 97 all morning, with Vanoc operating several small buses. The torch made it as far as Kelowna on Monday.
Over 12,000 people will have participated in the torch run before its arrival in Vancouver on February 12, prior to the Olympic opening ceremonies.