Hamilton, Ont. says goodbye as Olympic torch makes its way though Niagara region

HAMILTON, Ont. — After an overnight stay in Hamilton, Ont., the Olympic torch was welcomed by crowds of enthusiastic onlookers as it made its way Sunday through Ontario’s

Sean Littler

Sean Littler

HAMILTON, Ont. — After an overnight stay in Hamilton, Ont., the Olympic torch was welcomed by crowds of enthusiastic onlookers as it made its way Sunday through Ontario’s Niagara region.

In the town of Grimsby, Ont., about 150 people came out Sunday morning to watch torchbearer Jack Langelaan become the first person to carry the flame through the area.

“This is unbelievable. I can’t believe this many people turned out for this,” said Langelaan, a 43-year-old father of two.

By the afternoon, the torch had arrived in St. Catharines, Ont., where more than 6,000 people jammed the city’s downtown to bear witness to the momentous event.

Hundreds of red mittened hands and flags shot into the air as teacher and lacrosse player Mike Accursi lit the cauldron.

“It felt amazing seeing my family here and my kids,” said Accursi.

“Then, just coming around the corner and seeing all the sea of people. It’s just a tremendous day for St. Catharines and a tremendous day for me.”

Day 52 of the torch’s cross-country journey began in Hamilton and ended in Niagara Falls.

In Hamilton, people gathered at intersections and scattered themselves along Main Street Sunday morning to cheer on the torchbearers and bid farewell to the flame.

Zahra Akhtar, who’s almost 12, took part with her sister, Maryam, nine, and brother, Hassan, seven. Zahra said she wanted “to see the torch with my own eyes.”

Their mom, Nasim Akhtar, said the family arrived from Pakistan just six months ago.

“We are new Canadians, so I am very excited by this opportunity.”

Sunday’s farewell run followed a party Saturday night in which thousands turned out to welcome the torch to Hamilton.

“It’s absolutely fantastic,” said David Laing, 55, who with his wife and daughter had been following the torch all day.

“Very emotional,” he said of seeing the flame, adding that he was proud to be a Canadian.

More than 50 torchbearers carried the flame Sunday.

(Hamilton Spectator, St. Catharines Standard)