The mood on the streets of Edmonton was festive yesterday evening as the Olympic torch made its way through the city.

Edmontonians braved a brisk January evening to watch as the torch went from Hawrelak Park to the Butterdome, down Whyte Avenue to the End of Steel Park, across the river to the Alberta legislature building, then down Jasper Avenue to Sir Winston Churchill Square.

“I thought it was really well done,” Mark Bugiak, a business student at the University of Alberta, said. “A lot of people showed up, and it seemed to bring spirit to the school.”

Onlookers at the legislature were surprised by a group of protesters who made their way through the crowd waving banners and chanting “No Olympics on stolen native land; the Olympics are a corporate grab!”

“I think some of the bigger issues are stolen native land, environmental concerns, criminalization of the poor and the formation of a police state,” protester Nicole McDonal said. “Call us like-minded critical thinkers who question corporate media.”

Sir Winston Churchill Square was a mass of humanity, overflowing onto the streets and fostering a decidedly celebratory mood. Coloured coke bottles were given out as souvenirs and a narrow pathway was lined with people as Doreen Ryan, the final torchbearer and former Olympic speed skater, ran the last leg of the jaunt up to the stage in the centre of the square and lit the celebration cauldron.

The Olympic games will run from Feb. 12-28 in Vancouver.