The first half of the two-part Saskatchewan Winter Games torch relay kicked off Thursday afternoon in downtown North Battleford.
Organizers and 30 youths representing 15 local schools took part in the march, which began at the Civic Centre. Many community members braved the frigid cold to wave and cheer along the route, before the procession ended at City Hall. North Battleford Mayor Ryan Bater said a few words about what the torch relay represents.
"When I think of sport, what I think of the most is people coming together, teamwork and working towards common goals," Bater said. "I think it's really poignant today that so many young people got together, worked together, and got this torch to City Hall this afternoon."
"I think it's a real testemant to the strength of our community that we're coming together," Bater added. "This is a great time to be displaying unity."
Winter Games committee co-chair David Schell, who marched at the front of the parade with other committee members, said Bater's point about unity is important.
"All the schools working together to get from the Civic Centre to here signifies the unity in the community, and right now I think we all know we need that more than ever," Schell said. "It's a very postive thing for the Battlefords."
Schell said it was very cool to be part of the "unofficial" launch of the Games, considering the years of planning and effort that went into it.
"To finally see it come to fruition is amazing," he said. "We've said the word 'exciting' a lot today, but ... excitement is definitley in the air. Excited to showcase the Battlefords and get these games going."
Schell once again thanked the community, as over 1,000 volunteers have signed up to help.
The official torch relay for the Winter Games is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on Sun., Feb. 18, where the torch will be brought from City Hall back to the Civic Centre and used to light the cauldron which will officially open the games. The opening ceremonies are set for 7 p.m.
"The community has stepped up in such a huge way," Schell said. "We're ready to rock."
On Twitter: @NathanKanter11
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