The Pan Am Games torch relay ran through Windsor on day 17 of its 41-day journey to Toronto.
Windsorites came to the city hall plaza June 16 to celebrate the torch’s stop in the Rose City, carried in by Canadian boxer and Windsor native Mary Spencer.
Karen Hacker, senior vice president of human resources and volunteers, general counsel for the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games, said the torch relays create a sense of overall community for Canada.
“They’re a wonderful way to engage communities and to really bring the Games all across the province and across the country,” said Hacker.
The torch relay began with the lighting at the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan, Mexico. It was then flown to Toronto where it began its journey through more than 130 communities with more than 3,000 people bearing the torch.
Dancers, singers and even stilt-walkers were in attendance to entertain Windsorites as they waited for the torch.
Liliana Sheldon brought her two children to the relay and said the torch’s arrival to Windsor shows the city is still a part of Canada.
“Even though it’s right close to the border of the United States, we’re still Canadian,” said Sheldon.
Spencer, who competed in the Pan Am Games in 2011, said being able to be one of the torchbearers for Windsor was even more exciting because of her love for the city and its people.
She also said running through the passage created by the crowd to light the cauldron was reminiscent of her career.
“I felt like I was going into the ring to fight somebody and everybody was excited,” said Spencer.
According to Hecker, in addition to the 51 sports taking place across the Greater Toronto Area, there are also 35 days of arts and cultural activities planned. She said the Games will help celebrate not only Canadian culture, but the cultures of the North, Latin and South American countries participating.
Mayor Drew Dilkens was also in attendance for the torch relay and said competitions like the Pan Am Games are about promoting Windsor to the world and promoting sports to the community.
“The whole goal here is to help inspire sport and make people live more active and healthier lives and to get involved in sports,” said Dilkens.
The relay will resume the morning of June 17, with the torch being carried by Jennifer Daley-Stewart, a teacher at St. Anne Catholic Elementary School, who founded a nutritious snack program for her students.
It will travel to Essex, Leamington, St. Thomas and London, including a trip to Canada’s most southern point, Point Pelee.
The torch will end its run July 10 at the opening ceremonies of the Games in Toronto.