The Olympic torch has started burning a path through the GTA, fuelled by the warm cheers of thousands who lined frigid Oshawa streets and the smiles of those lucky enough to hoist the Olympic symbol.

“I’ve had my picture taken more today than I’ve had in my whole lifetime,” said torch carrier Brett Mckenzie, who got the honour when his name was picked in a draw at the Oshawa General Motors plant.

“It’s been crazy. I never expected this much attention,” he said.

Regular folks got to carry the torch, as did better known ones, including retired skating champ Kurt Browning.

The flame, lit in Greece about two months ago, is on Day 49 of its 106-day relay across Canada ahead of the Winter Games in Vancouver in February. It arrived in Oshawa from Peterborough yesterday and moves toward Toronto today.

Legions of students waiting outside Eastdale Collegiate and Vocational Institute on Harmony Road North in Oshawa screamed with excitement as Mckenzie took the torch from the previous bearer and started running from his station outside the school.

“It’s a great opportunity for the country to get excited about something and come together and have a lot of fun,” said Doug Campbell, there to cheer on the flame.

Oshawa Mayor John Gray said his city is basking in some much-needed warmth from the torch.

“We’ve been rocked by some bad news in the automotive sector and we can’t lose sight of the fact there has been some hardship. So it’s nice to lift everybody’s sprits and showcase our city to the rest of the country, that we are alive and fine.”

The torch’s final stop last night was at the General Motors Centre, where thousands were waiting to see it.

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