Olympic torch here January 15

Upwards of 10,000 people are expected to attend Red Deer’s big bash to welcome the Olympic torch on Jan. 15.

The 2010 Olympic torch.

Upwards of 10,000 people are expected to attend Red Deer’s big bash to welcome the Olympic torch on Jan. 15.

Key organizer Lyn Radford updated city council this week regarding plans to build enthusiasm leading up to the day when the flame comes to the city.

“It’s only 270 days away,” said Radford.

The Olympic Torch Relay Community Celebration Committee is organizing the party, which will get underway at about 5 p.m. and last four hours at Westerner Park.

Red Deer’s celebration will have a winter village theme.

Radford anticipates that celebration costs will run around $100,000 and includes park and ride expenses.

“We’re just in the beginning stages of fundraising,” she said.

It’s hoped area businesses will kick in around $20,000, although they will get little or no promotion due to Olympic rules. The city has set aside $10,000 for the event and cultural grants will be applied for.

Event-hosting communities have been invited to apply for a government grant together.

Red Deer is working with Chestermere, Drumheller and Airdrie on a Community Initiatives grant application.

“The other community celebrations are significantly smaller, so they’ll probably get a smaller portion,” Radford said. “Red Deer will probably get a little larger.”

Red Deer is one of 187 Canadian communities chosen to host a free event as the torch passes through on the way to its final destination in Vancouver. The Vancouver Winter Olympics will be held from Feb. 12 to 28, 2010.

The Red Deer committee also plans to choose a person soon from the community to do the last leg of the torch run leading into Westerner Park. Two alternates will also be asked to see if they want to take on the special duty.

It’s hoped that their identities can be kept a secret, at least for a while.

For security and other logistical reasons, the seven-km route also won’t be announced until a week before Jan. 15.

The torch run begins on Oct. 30.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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