Marching down the road to the dock, Bowen Islanders prepare for the Olympic torch ceremonies the day before the big event.

By Alison Bate

It was dark and sleepy as I drove down to Snug Cove at 5:30 a.m. yesterday, but every house had its lights on.

I parked the car, offloaded my bike and pedalled across the cool damp field to Snug Cove. I passed walkers with their headlights on as I trundled across the boardwalk and left it outside the library.

“It’s like waiting for the bus,” I heard, as I stood outside the library, surrounded in the dark by hundreds of fellow islanders, many wearing red and white or the Olympic red mittens – none of which showed in the dark. It was chilly, and we were all huddled up, waiting for something to happen.

“Ooh, there it is,” and we looked up the road to see an orange wobbly flame, with a huge crowd of people walking behind it, ghosts in the dark. “Why are there two flames?” asked someone in the crowd. The flame or flames seemed to disappear from view somewhere near the General Store, and we resumed our waiting-for-the-bus positions.

Watching the torch go by on Bowen Island
Then the flame reappeared and came down the hill at more of a walk than a run. The road was closed to traffic, and it was neat to see pedestrians taking over the Cove. A flash of cameras, a flash of white as a creature in white holding an orange flame passed us, and we all followed down to the dock, hundreds and hundreds of us, the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen on Bowen. A lone protester wandered around, holding a sign saying something like: “Five Ring Circus”.

“Thank You, Bowen!” said Murray Atherton, as he praised us for the magnificent turnout and urged us not to block the ferry traffic.

The Olympic entourage then took back stage as the huge crowd all turned to watch the commuter cars load endlessly onto the Queen of Cap for the 6:30 a.m. run. A very Bowen-y moment.

On the Dallas dock, standing on the rail, it was hard to see everything, but the Olympic flame was sucked back into something else and taken onto the ferry. We sang “O Canada” rather lamely and then Lorne Warr launched into his new song “Back to the Island again”.

Watched by more than a thousand people, the Queen of Capilano left the dock, prettily framing the foreground, the lights of Cypress Mountain on the North Shore in the background, and dawn started to break. That was the Kodak moment.

And then it was all over and I went and had my usual coffee and oatmeal muffin at the Snug.

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