TRAFFIC BARRIERS went up at 5 a.m. on Eby around city hall and east down Lakelse Ave. toward McDonald’s as organizers and volunteers prepare for today’s Olympic torch run events.
Local run organizer Carol Fielding said the barricades will be manned by volunteers and others who will be glad to give out information about what is going on.
She estimates traffic patterns will return to normal at 5 p.m.
“For today we know the bus stop has been moved from in front of Save on Foods to Safeway,” Fielding added of alternative transportation measures
Celebrations will begin at the Olympic Celebration stage in front of city hall at noon, and relay sponsor booths will be set up for the public.
There will be free toques and Olympic mittens given away on the day, and a draw for youth to win a 30” tall stuffed Olympic mascot Quatchi. Giveaways will start around 11 a.m., and ballots and the draw box will be located near the celebration stage.
The winner of the mascot naming competition will be announced at the celebration stage too, and the Skeena Jr band will perform.
The Olympic Torch Relay will begin on Keith Ave. at Wal-Mart at approximately 1:30 p.m., ending up on stage at approximately 2 p.m.
There will be entertainment, speeches from local dignitaries, and performances by Playback, a local youth rock band and the Skeena Jr. cheerleaders.
Torchrunners will then run the flame through town to the railway car on the millennium trail a little before 3 p.m.
The torch will then travel to Kitsumkalum, where Sarah Peden and Jordan Wesley will be carrying the flame starting at 3:13 p.m. Sarah will run from the Kalum River bridge to the House of Sim-oi-Ghets and the totem pole there. Matriarch Mildred Roberts has been chosen as an honorary elder firekeeper, and will perform a short welcoming and blessing ceremony of the Olympic flame as it comes into the community. Wesley will then take the torch for 300 metres.
Nina Peden, chair of the Kitsumkalum organizing relay committee, said she hopes everybody gets a spot along the route to cheer the runners on. People are asked to bring their drums, banners and noise makers to welcome the torch relay into the community.
A celebration will occur in the Kitsumkalum Hall right after the relay, with a welcome by the hereditary chief, councillors, and the local MP and MLA. Those attending the sold-out celebration will see First Nations dancers and a local “Two Whale Story” performed by Thornhill Elementary students, as well as a slideshow presentation showcasing different athletes in the community.
The torch relay will then move to New Aiyansh, starting at the Nisga’a Lisms Government Building at 4 p.m. and ending at the community hall. Acting government president Kevin McKay and Justin Mercer will be the torchbearers for the community. Dr. Jospeh Gosnell was chosen as the honorary elder firekeeper, and will welcome the Olympic flame into the community through a traditional Nisga’a ceremony. There will be a big fireworks display at the community hall after the last torchrunner has arrived there.
Curt Johnson, member of the 2010 Olympic Torch Committee in the Nass Valley, said the committee is encouraging youth to run behind the torch as it passes through the community.
“We’re really looking forward to the events up here, and we’re really pushing it onto the youth because it’s a once-in-a lifetime opportunity,” Johnson said. “It will really inspire them to set goals and have dreams.”