The Dryden Observer

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Relay revisited

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.
While VANOC torch relay officials quashed the idea of using this lakefront site due to extreme cold, the site will soon host a local winter festival on Feb. 15.

Roll with the punches.

That was the order of the day for many of the organizers and volunteers involved in last week’s Olympic Torch Relay Celebration.

And it all seemed to work out just fine, despite an onslaught of last minute logistical upheavals. Residents still found their way to the proper places lining the relay route and turning the gymnasium of Dryden High School into something like  a rock concert.

After a monumental volunteer effort to prepare a stunning outdoor site for the day’s festivities, Torch Relay task force chair David Durance said a major change of plans posed it’s share of challenges.

“It was a challenging day for us, certainly at the beginning, because it wasn’t what we were anticipating,” said Durance. “As it worked out, there were a lot of people from a lot of different groups who were able to pull together very quickly to make it happen – the top of that list is the staff of the high school, Caryl Hron from the school board as well as Mary Helie. Andi (Kidd) and Carl (Bleich) had a lot to do with the way the performers were able to adapt to the situation. My general reflection on the day is that it all worked out.”

VANOC’s 9 a.m. decision to move the celebration indoors was based on fears over how stage and sound equipment would function in temperatures below -20 degrees celcius.

“Kenora was able to go ahead with their outdoor celebration for two reasons,” added Durance. “They were able to set up during the warmest time of the day, whereas we were doing it in the coldest time. Secondly, the crew in Kenora came up with a couple of different ideas to make their system work – which holds out hope for other communities who are staging their celebrations in cold weather.”

Behind the scenes, the day involved upwards of 75 local volunteers and 70 local performers, joined by an additional 50 performers from Sioux Lookout.

Andi Kidd says those on stage weren’t too broken up over the move to an indoor stage.

“We had a lot of positive comments about the new venue,” said Kidd. We were concerned if we had the whole population of Dryden down at Van Horne Landing that there would be no one on the route. As it turned out the streets were packed.”

Local torch runner Tommy Johnson was lucky enough to carry the Olympic flame up King St. through Dryden’s downtown.

“They tell you that this day will change your life, and it’s kind of true,” said local torch runner Tommy Johnson. “I think the moment for me was seeing this kid, just looking at me in total awe. Just seeing the kids go crazy was the coolest thing. It’s just a flame, but it’s something that brings people together in a way few things can.”

Winter festival to make use of celebration site

Why let a good site go to waste, says Andi Kidd.

The city of Dryden recreation programmer says the upcoming winterfest celebration plans to make full use of the lakefront outdoor site at Van Horne Landing which was prepared for the Olympic Torch Relay, but went unused due to cold temperatures.

Held on the statutory family day holiday, Monday, Feb. 15, the festival will feature over a dozen events including: an opening ceremonies, a snow sculpting competition, a family fishing derby, human checkers, snowmobile poker derby, a shinny tournament, official judging for ‘Pimp My Ice Shack’ and much more family fun.

– Chris Marchand

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