It was a busy Saturday than most weekends (June 20, 2015) as thousands of locals and international visitors swarmed the streets of Niagara Falls, Canada to not only experience the breath-taking city during the sizzling summer temperatures, but to also witness a moment in history as the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Torch Relay travelled its way to the honeymoon capital and onboard Hornblower Niagara Cruises catamaran for a journey to the thundering Falls.
The famous lit torch that begun its journey in Teotihuacan, Mexico on May 30 continued its 41 day trek visiting 130 communities including a one day visit to the Niagara Region stopping in Welland, St. Catharines and Niagara Falls, Ontario. Travelling from Burlington, Ontario the torch began its day at the Welland Market Square for a community celebration before travelling to the Welland Pan Am Flatwater Centre, the canoe/kayak sprint venue for the games. The torch continued on to the St. Catharines Market Square before the day celebrations occurred at the Royal Canadian Henley Rowing Course at Lakeside Park.
At 6:07pm, the closely guarded flame, its TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Torch Relay entourage and Hornblower Niagara Cruises staff welcomed community torchbearer, Richard Deschatelets who is just one of the 3,000 community torchbearer throughout the event.
Deschatelets is a member of Canada’s wrestling team for 12 years, captured two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games (1978,1982) and two silvers and a bronze medal at the Pan Am Games. Kathleen Hunt was also selected as community torchbearer as Hunt’s passion for the sport of badminton, winning the 1987 under-16 girls provincial doubles title and the under-19 mixed doubles in 1989. Hunt also competed in the 1988 Pan Am Games, winning the Ladies Doubles in the under-16 category in addition to winning the national mixed doubles championship.
Once arrived down the hill, Deschatelets made his way up the gangway to the Hornblower NIAGARA THUNDER where he stood for a photo opportunity before making his way on board the boat with torch in hand. As the 700-passenger catamaran soared into the basin of the Niagara Gorge slowly approaching the Canadian Horseshoe Falls torchbearer, Deschatelets lit the community cauldron aboard the upper level of the catamaran that was mounted to the upper deck. The boat toured the Niagara Gorge covering the closed cauldron from the mighty and powerful mist. As the boat passed, hundreds of bystanders from up above located along the Niagara Parkway cheered for the celebration. After the boat returned to dock, the torch continued it journey in Niagara Falls to Queen Victoria Park for an outdoor community celebration.
On July 10, 2015 the torch will arrive in Toronto, Ontario where it will ignite the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games opening ceremonies cauldron which signifies the start of the event. The games will last two weeks and will conclude on July 26, 2015. Less than two week after the games, the TORONTO 2015 Parapan Games will take place from August 7-15, 2015.
See images from the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Torch Relay