Local News

And the Torch Goes On

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RALEIGH — June 23, 1996, 10:23 a.m. EDT

It was just after daybreak on a muggy summer morning, but people came out Sunday to see the Olympic torch resume its journey from Raleigh to Atlanta.

Actually, of course, the flame had been lit in Greece, transported to Los Angeles and has been making its very circuitous route around the United States for several weeks. But the torch had spent the night in Raleigh, and now it was time to move it farther along.

It is projected to arrive in Atlanta for the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games on July 19.

Sunday morning relay bearers carried the Olympic torch along Hillsborough Street, to Mary's College and the Bell Tower on NC State University's campus. It then moved through Cary, Morrisville and Durham. The schedule calls for everyone to be on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill for a lunch break. 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 can get off course. It has been as late as 15 minutes to an hour -- or it can show up early, arriving at one site 18 minutes ahead of schedule. To be on hand when the torch actually shows up, allow yourself enough leeway -- before and after -- its estimated time of arrival

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