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The 1988 Olympic Torch Relay In Medicine Hat


This is an article my wife Gloria wrote back in 1988. She had gone back to college to get her High School Diploma. She passed.

"The Story of the Flame"

By Gloria Joan Scahill

19 February 1988.

This is an accurate story about our son Gary Scahill carrying the Olympic torch to city hall.

My husband Allan and I met Gary at the Flamingo Terrace Motel. There the selected participants met the Olympic Relay Committee to be briefed about the run and receive their official Olympic tracksuits.

After getting suited up, Gary granted C.F.C.N. television an interview, as did Canada's Olympic ski team, better known as "The Crazy Canucks", consisting of Ken Read, Steve Podborski and Jim Hunter, whose nickname is "Jungle Jim".

Gary was selected to run his one-kilometer portion from, fifty meters west of First Street and Division Avenue to Medicine Hat city hall.

Allan and I met friends downtown and they introduced us to an acquaintance of theirs who works for Petro Canada. His company is the Official Sponsor of the "Share the Flame" across Canada run, the first ever to be carried over such a great distance and in so many different modes.

The torch had been carried by dog sled, skiers, helicopters and a host of other ways. Never before has the flame been so far north. Where it was taken to Inuvik in the North West Territories, where it was run through temperatures of minus forty degrees Celsius. What a way to bring to the Canadian people the spirit of the flame binding us all in a feeling of common pride.

As time drew closer for the torch to arrive, the Petro Canada official we had met steered Holly my daughter-in-law, Sarah my granddaughter and I to a roped off section reserved for various dignitaries and the news media. Soon the children from various schools were singing delightfully in the background.

Then there was Hidy and Howdy, the official mascots, endlessly entertaining the anxious children with their comical antics and mimes of various Olympic sporting events, which the children had to guess the correct answer too.

On the stage were local and national leaders all dressed, not in their fineries, but in parkas and warm boots to keep out the cold.

The snow had started to fall, but few noticed it as anticipation of the torches arrival neared. You could hear the crowds in the distance along First Street shouting and cheering as the flame made its way alongside the river.

Suddenly there was Gary beaming from ear to ear, pleased with his performance, and you could also see a pride in his eyes as he held the torch aloft for all to see.

Boy Scouts and Girl Guides were lined both sides of the runway that had been made for the torch to travel, people were pressing forward to get a closer look and maybe even try and touch it.

Gary ran swiftly up the stairs to the stage and presented the flame to the cheering crowd, his hand seemed to be pierced into the handle, as though the Devil himself would not take this away from him. What a good feeling, to know such a nice fellow, my son.

I did not hear much of what was said by the people who gave the speeches that followed, my attention was firmly focused on Gary. Hordes of photographers were now surrounding the stage, their cameras and flashes busily clicking and popping. Soon, my husband, who had run carrying his camera equipment and wearing winter boots, joined the other photographers to record this very special moment for our family album. Interviewed later by the local television network you could see the pride in his eyes and hear the emotion in his voice when asked how he felt about the day.

Then it was back to the headquarters at the Flamingo Hotel. There the torchbearers received certificates and other Olympic souvenirs, posters were signed by all concerned, including The Crazy Canucks and everybody was given a copy. Groups of runners came together and had their photographs taken with each other, the bus they rode in, used as a backdrop.

My husband who is an avid amateur photographer was in his element snapping away with his camera and went through two rolls of film. What a day, what an emotional high to have. I wish everyone could have shared this experience with someone they know, I would highly recommend it.

Gloria Scahill

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