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Olympic Spirit Burns in North Carolina

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RALEIGH — June 22, 1996, 2:05 p.m.EDT

The brightness of the Olympic flame is shining on North Carolina today. The torch relay, which has crisscrossed much of the United States, will come through Raleigh at approximately 8 p.m. on its way to Atlanta. It is projected to arrive in that city for the opening ceremonies of theOlympic gameson July 19.

The Raleigh segment will have runners bearing the torch along a designated route through the city, culminating at the Fayetteville Street Mall tonight for a fireworks show. The torch -- and Olympic officials -- will then retire for the night. The relay will resume Sunday morning at 6:30 in front of the Hillsborough Street Holiday Inn. After appearances at St. Mary's College and the Bell Tower on NC State University's campus, it will head out for Cary, Morrisville and then on to Durham, where it is expected about 9:10 a.m. Thence on to Chapel Hill/Carrboro by way of Chapel Hill Boulevard, 15-501, Franklin Street and NC 54. By 2:30 it will be at Old Fayetteville Road.

There's no chance of rain on anyone's parade -- the sun is beaming and temperatures are expected in the mid-90s. If anything, the runners will have to take care they don't get dehydrated or are otherwise affected by the heat.

The Olympic flame is always lighted in Greece and taken to the host country. The U.S. relay began in Los Angeles on April 27, crossing 42 states and racking up 15,000 miles before it makes it into the stadium. The torchbearers were chosen by their local communities for their good works, past participation in the games, or contest promotion. The 10,000 bearers don't all walk, run, or jog with the torch -- some traveled on horseback, train, steamboat, canoe and wheelchair.

The 32-inch torch weighs a mere 3.5 pounds. Its handle is in the middle, making it rather "ergonomically designed."

While the relay has been scheduled down to the minute, because of the number of participants, as well as the crush of onlookers, dignitaries and media, the relay often rolls into a town from 15 minutes to an hour late

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