Parapan Am Torch Celebrations
“I’m going to the torch relay celebration at Queen’s Park. Do you want to come?”
This was an email from my friend Larry two days before the Parapan Am games torch arrived. Did I want to come? Well… It was headed towards the tail end of the first week of my (writing) vacation and it was time to focus on the vacation bit of that equation. In other words, silly question, of course I wanted to be there!
Friday arrived and had decided to be perfect: blue skies, nicely warm, and off I went. I’ve never actually been to Queens Park — a.k.a. the Legislative Assembly of Ontario — but thankfully, some very nice security guards told me where to go. I puttered around, taking photos, and talking to the life of people from Find My Spark, an excellent resource if you’re interested in volunteering. And then things started happening. The facilities started with a group of drummers and I wish I could tell you where they were from and what were this unique about them, but… I can’t. They were good, though.
Next up: walkabout by Premier Kathleen Wynne. Which I mostly didn’t see, because I was surrounded by the backsides (to say it politely) of security and approximately 20 news cameras.
I resigned myself to gawking between people, but shortly after this photo was taken, she saw me and came over to say hi. I can now consider myself on a first name basis with the Premier of Ontario. I’m sure she introduce yourself by first name to everybody as she talks too, as well, but she has that unique ability to make you feel as if you are the only person that matters. I did notice the 20 news cameras turning around and focusing on us, though.
And then, the torch arrived, carried by Dr. Gaetan Tardif, President of the Canadian Paralympic committee. He later gave an excellent and inspiring speech, recommending that everybody get addicted to para sports, just like he had become years ago.
And speaking of speeches… There were a few. I could show you photos of all the dignitaries who spoke — all of them mercifully brief — but I’ll keep it to the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, who gave a terrific speech.
After the Premier had spoken, the flame was passed to the next torchbearer, whose name I didn’t catch. She looked very capable, though.
During the ceremony, I discovered the answer to something I’ve been wondering about. Namely, what happens if the flame goes out? The best reason I could come up with for a gentleman who was torch relay clothing carry around two lanterns was something as old-fashioned as a live flame, was that he was the Keeper of the Flame. I’m open to be corrected, but I find it really charming.
Eventually, everyone dispersed and Larry and I decided to head for lunch. First, though, he facilitated a photo with my new buddy Kathleen.