Warm welcome for torch in Toronto

TORONTO — The Olympic torch relay through Toronto didn’t go according to the script Thursday evening when about 100 anti-Olympic protesters blocked a downtown street.

Stephanie Belanger waves to the children as she carries Olympic Flame inside Hospital for Sick Children in downtown Toronto on Thursday.

Stephanie Belanger waves to the children as she carries Olympic Flame inside Hospital for Sick Children in downtown Toronto on Thursday.

TORONTO — The Olympic torch relay through Toronto didn’t go according to the script Thursday evening when about 100 anti-Olympic protesters blocked a downtown street.

Officials took the torch by convoy to the Hospital for Sick Children where several torchbearers displayed the flame for cheering young patients gathered in the lobby.

Several runners who missed their chance to carry the torch on the planned route passed the flame from torch to torch in the hospital.

The flame arrived about an hour late at Nathan Phillips Square, where Olympic hockey star Vicky Sunohara lit a cauldron before thousands of cheering spectators.

Thousands of people braved the cold to catch a glimpse of the Olympic torch being carried by numerous runners, including father and son filmmakers Ivan and Jason Reitman, Olympic rower Marnie McBean, ballet dancer Karen Kain and Canada’s first female astronaut Roberta Bondar.

The Reitmans who were among those who got to carry the torch before it was met by the demonstration, had heard the weather would be chilly, so they took some extra precautions before heading to Toronto — they packed long underwear.

“It was great. I kind of walked because my school was out there and they were walking too. It was just great,” said a beaming Bondar.

Dozens of students from Roberta Bondar Public School in Brampton, Ont., came out to cheer Bondar on.

Bondar said she hoped to attend the Olympics in Vancouver.

When Ivan Reitman finished his leg of the relay, he lit his son’s torch and the two men embraced.

Jason Reitman said he had tears in his eyes the whole way.

“I’ve been trying not to cry this entire time and this is just extraordinary,” he said.

“I can’t tell you what it feels like to hold the Olympic flame. It’s bigger than you can imagine.”

The elder Reitman, known for such films as Stripes and Ghostbusters, was also trying hard to hold back tears after his run.

“You know I came here as an immigrant with my family and to be able to take part in something like this is just so special and I’m just so proud to be a Canadian, to be a part of this.”

Jason Reitman, whose latest film Up in the Air has been nominated for six Golden Globe awards, says he was thrilled when organizers asked him to be part of the relay.

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