Thousands of cheering people lined city streets Thursday to welcome the Olympic torch as it finally came home to Vancouver.
The Olympic flame, which has been jogged and walked and wheeled and carried by every contrivance from surfboard to dogsled, crossed Boundary Road into Vancouver on Thursday afternoon.
“It was an incredible experience,” said Vancouver firefighter Brian Bogdanovich, who ran the torch to the steps of city hall, passing through a throng of several hundred cheering and waving people.
“I think it has hit home for everybody. We’ve all been waiting for this moment for the torch to arrive and now it’s here.”
Among the torchbearers Thursday were former Vancouver Canucks captain Trevor Linden, basketball superstar Steve Nash and crooner Michael Bublé.
The torch ended Thursday evening at a community celebration at LiveCity Yaletown.
NBC’s Today Show host Matt Lauer, who ran with the torch along Canada Way in Burnaby, joked that he spent most of the run concentrating on not dropping the torch.
“I wanted to yell back, ‘Go Canada, Go Canada,’” Lauer said. “Because, for this 300 metres I am Canadian … It was wonderful to be a part of.”
On Friday, the torch was to start its day at the north end of the Lion’s Gate Bridge, passing through Stanley Park to East Vancouver and back. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former mayor Sam Sullivan will be among the bearers.
The torch will eventually cross from Granville Island to Yaletown by dragonboat and voyageur canoe on its way to the opening ceremonies at B.C. Place.