The MNP Canada Games Torch Relay sprinted through Blackfalds on the way to the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer starting on Feb. 15th.
The Blackfalds leg of the first cross-Canada relay in the Games’ 52-year history featured six local torchbearers including Heather Buelow, Byron Hackett, Chris Overacker, Robert Thompson, Rachel Weppler and Blackfalds Mayor Richard Poole.
Buelow, owner of Dancers Edge in Lacombe and Blackfalds, said, “It was everything I hoped it would be and even more.
“We shut down the studio tonight because we really wanted to promote sports in Blackfalds and in Alberta. They said, ‘Let’s all get out and cheer on Ms. Heather’. They did and it filled my heart so much.”
Each torchbearer ran between 200 m and 1 km throughout the town and Blackfalds was one of 50 communities the torch stopped in across the county.
“The entire town is ready to turn out for the Games,” said Poole. “I can’t describe how fun, how exciting it was to come into the Abbey Centre and to go through the only indoor trail in Canada as we came around down to the lighting of the podium.”
He added downtown had Blackfalds residents on both sides cheering on the torchbearers.
“There was a lot of people looking on and cheering. We had lots of fun.”
Games Board Chair Lyn Radford said her staff is starting to panic in a good way with the Games only being 17 days away and thanked Blackfalds residents for their help with the Games bid — including a failed initial plan to host badminton at the Abbey Centre.
“We needed a gymnasium that would be able to host badminton and this was a suitable facility and the school across the way could have been used as a practice gym,” she said. “When we got into the bid and into the planning, we realized the logistics would not have worked as well for us.
“When the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre became available, we thought that was going to be a better alternative, particularly for our wheelchair accessible athletes.”
Despite the lost opportunity, Radford was grateful for the Town of Blackfalds helping Red Deer’s bid.
“We thank them for being so neighborly and gracious when we had to make the change,” she said, adding the Games committee plans to give an update Friday that will explain where everything is at.
“As the chair, I can tell you it will be a proud moment for me.”
She added the relay has been a success across the country.
“The communities are starting to realize their own heroes in their own communities and I think that was our goal across Canada,” she said.
“Today we had six of them here and that is a big thing. As we get closer, the relays are getting bigger and more boisterous, which is really what we want.”