‘Reddy’ for Olympic torch

Clockwise from left) Melody Thorp

As the days tick down to the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, the excitement is probably growing more each day in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

The Paint the Town Red event hosted by the business improvement association and chamber of commerce gives people and businesses a chance to do something and feel part of the excitement by decorating their shops and windows to celebrate the Olympic torch relay coming through both communities on Monday, Feb. 8.

“We’ve had pretty much everybody want to participate,” said Ineke Boekhorst, executive-director with the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association. That’s between 150 and 200 businesses that have bought strings of red Christmas lights to hang for the occasion.

“As the torch comes closer to the Lower Mainland, people are getting excited,” she added.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get so close to the Olympic torch.”

The BIA along with the local Spirit of B.C. Committee and Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Chamber of Commerce are co-hosting the events.

Some businesses already have their decorations up, such as Maple Ridge Florists on Dewdney Trunk Road. It put up an Inukshuk in the window along with Go Canada Go signs.

With Canada’s national colours identical to those of Valentines’ Day Feb. 14, it’s a no-brainer to get into the spirit.

For individuals, there’s the Are You Reddy? (for the Olympic Games) contest, in which people are invited to dress up their homes, kids, cars, spouses or even their dogs in red.

“We’ve got several entries. People are very creative. They can send photos or videos of whatever they’re doing and they’ll be entered into the contest,” Boekhorst said.

Deadline for entries has been extended to Feb. 10 and all people have to do is e-mail those photos or videos to the BIA at inquiries@downtownmapleridge.ca and they’ll be entered into the contest. Winners will be chosen by random draw and announced Feb. 12 at the live broadcast of the opening ceremonies to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics that’s being shown at the Arts Centre Theatre. That event, which is free, has no more tickets, but the ACT is also showing on its big screen the women’s hockey final on Feb. 25, the men’s hockey final on Feb. 28 and the closing ceremonies the same day. Contact the ACT (www.theactmapleridge.org/catch-the-spirit) to get free tickets for the remaining events.

The torch arrives in Maple Ridge from Mission at 116th Avenue and Lougheed Highway at about 6:45 a.m., when it exits the convoy vehicle and heads north on 227th Street to Dewdney Trunk Road. It heads west to 224th Street and Memorial Peace Park for a celebration.

Free hot chocolate and muffins will be offered, thanks to the Golden Ears Kiwanis Club.

Entertainment will feature active opportunities such as a mini torch run for kids and interactive sport opportunities. Official ceremonies will include the Spirit of Wood unveiling, O’ Canada, a flag raising ceremony, and introduction to some of our Home Town Hero athletes and the highlight will be when the Olympic Torch joins our celebration.

After that, the torch relay continues west on Lougheed Highway to 203rd Street. While the event takes place during rush hour, it also takes place before school hours. “We’re hoping that parents and kids will come out and watch the parade then get the kids off to school.”

The torch exits the convoy again in Pitt Meadows at Lougheed Highway and Harris Road at about 8:15 a.m., where it will be carried south to Pitt Meadows city hall for a celebration at 8:30 a.m.

After that, the torch will be carried west along Hammond Road to Golden Ears Bridge, where it will head south to Langley. Parking’s limited at all venues so walk, run, hike, bike or snowshoe to the viewing areas.

Rolling road closures will be necessary to allow the Olympic torchbearers and support vehicles to pass through Maple Ridge.