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Olympic flame glows just north of us

Mon., Jan. 18, 2010, midnight

B.C. communities plan to celebrate torch’s passage

If the U.S. Figure Skating Championships have whetted your appetite for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, B.C., you don’t have to travel far in the next week or so to participate in Olympic activities.

The Torch Relay is making its way across Canada and will travel through communities just north of the border – many of which have celebrations to commemorate the event.

In Creston, B.C., 115 miles north of Coeur d’Alene, the torch will pass through town at 1:21 p.m. Saturday.

Ron Toyota, the mayor of Creston, said the town is planning a weeklong celebration, with hockey games, cross-country skiing events, snowshoeing, a snowman-building contest and fireworks Friday night.

Celebrations are scheduled all day Saturday in downtown Creston. “We get the torch for two hours, actually,” he said.

Toyota said he was especially excited about the torch coming through the area since his 12-year-old grandson was selected to carry it in Castlegar, B.C.

Later Saturday, the torch will arrive in Nelson, B.C., about 150 miles north of Spokane, at 6 p.m. and will travel through the city until 8 p.m.

Nelson City Hall has been selling red mittens with the Olympic logo on the back and the Canadian Maple Leaf on the palm for spectators to wave as the torch goes through town. The proceeds will benefit Canadian athletes.

Community events in Nelson on Saturday include a pancake breakfast at 9 a.m., speed skating demonstrations, curling demonstrations, street hockey and appearances by the Olympic mascots. There will also be an ice slide, public skating and, weather permitting, a rail jam – an event where snowboarders perform tricks on rails, boxes or pipes.

“Nelson is delighted to be hosting the torch on Saturday, Jan. 23,” Patricia Dehnel, volunteer event coordinator of the Nelson Community Torch Relay, said via e-mail. “Our Spokane neighbours are most welcome to come to Nelson for the weekend.”

The city of Rossland, B.C., about 128 miles north of Spokane, moved its 113th annual Rossland Winter Carnival up a week to coincide with the torch relay.

The festivities kick off Friday with luge lessons, the 2010 Western Regional Pond Hockey Championships and the Winter Carnival Parade and fireworks. On Saturday, there will be a Family Fun Night at the Red Mountain Resort, the Canadian Open Free Skiing Championships and the Sculptasaurus Snow Sculpture contest.

The torch will make its way through Rossland from 1 to 2 p.m. Sunday.

“We actually have a huge weekend planned around the torch parade,” said Deanne Steven, executive director of Tourism Rossland.

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