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Olympic torch gets warm welcome to Toronto, but group of protesters block route

TORONTO - The Olympic torch relay through Toronto was thrown off schedule on Thursday evening when about 100 anti-Olympic protesters blocked the street.

TORONTO - The Olympic torch relay through Toronto was thrown off schedule on Thursday evening when about 100 anti-Olympic protesters blocked the street.

Officials who were taking the torch by convoy to Nathan Phillips Square in downtown Toronto were forced to change the route to get past the protest. Runners who missed their chance to carry the torch on the planned route were to carry it around the square in front of Toronto's city hall.

Father and son filmmakers Ivan and Jason Reitman were among those who got to carry the torch before it was met by the protest.

The pair heard the weather would be chilly so they took some extra precautions before heading to Toronto - they packed long underwear.

Thousands of people braved the cold to catch a glimpse of the Olympic torch as it travels through Canada's most populous city.

The torch is being carried - 300 metres at a time - by many runners and walkers, including celebrities like the Reitmans.

Other famous torchbearers included Olympic rower Marnie McBean, ballet dancer Karen Kain and astronaut Roberta Bondar.

"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.

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."

He told The Canadian Press in an interview before his run that he and his son knew it would be pretty cold.

"We picked up some long underwear in New York just on our way here because we saw where the temperature was going."

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.

"I can't imagine anything greater than the idea of my father and I passing the flame to each other," he said.

The relay began before sunrise east of the city in Oshawa and then made its way through Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Whitchurch-Stouffville, Markham and Thornhill.

When the flame arrives at Nathan Phillips Square, Olympic hockey star Vicky Sunohara is to light a cauldron.

 
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