By Rick MacDonnell, SnowSeekers Inc.
It was a bittersweet afternoon at the Alberta/British Columbia border as the Olympic flame left Alberta for its final push towards Vancouver and next month's Winter Olympics.
Among those on hand was Premier Gordon Campbell of British Columbia, as well as former Alberta premier, Peter Lougheed, who was the last Alberta torchbearer. Lougheed was met at the border by B.C. Lions head coach and general manager, Wally Buono.
After 12 wonderfully hectic days of following the flame through this province, I was sad to see it go. But the team and I have nothing but fond memories of our time with the Relay, and have come away with a renewed respect for not only the province of Alberta as a whole, for hosting such amazing events, but each and every Albertan who came out and supported the Torch along the way.
"The people of Alberta have been very strong supporters and great partners of ours as we work so hard to make these Canada's games," said Campbell. "The border is really a great place to symbolize the unity of not just British Columbia and Alberta, but Canada as well."
Jim Richards, the director of the Torch Relay, has been present at each and every stop throughout Alberta. This native Calgarian is still taken aback at the passion and spirit of his home province and how much they're behind these Olympic games.
"It's been remarkable seeing the enthusiasm, the support, the passion that Albertans have for the Olympic games. it's only been a generation since they hosted the games in Calgary. Albertans understand the importance of that, the legacy and what that means to the communities."
"It inspires everybody," Campbell said of the Torch. "I think it inspires young people particularly, which is what's so great about it."
The young were out in full force throughout this entire Relay, a fact not lost on Richards, who wanted to thank them all from the bottom of his heart.
"I'd like to thank the Albertans for every moment of every day. When they took their kids out of school, when they came to join us at celebrations, they participated fully. It's been remarkable. Hopefully it's been as good for them as it was for us."
It was, Jim. It absolutely was.
Make sure to catch the Travel Alberta Olympic Torch Relay videos on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/TravelAlbertaCanada
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