By Tina Comeau
When the torch for the upcoming Finales des Jeux de l’Acadie was brought into the gymnasium of École secondaire de Par-en-Bas on Friday, June 1, it marked both a beginning and an ending in more ways than one.
The arrival of the torch marked the end of the week-long torch run.
And the end of the torch run marked the beginning of the final countdown to the upcoming games being hosted by the Municipality of Argyle, which are now just over three weeks away.
Neil LeBlanc, president of the organizing committee, said having the torch arrive in the Municipality of Argyle means that the youth are getting closer and closer.
He said the objective is to make the finale of the Acadian and Francophone games a memorable experience for everyone, including the athletes, the volunteers and the spectators.
The torch run departed from Edmunston, New Brunswick, the site of last year’s Jeux finale, on May 27. During the relay that followed 10 schools were visited, with the torch travelling thousands of kilometres. It is estimated that between 2,000 and 3,000 students got to participate in the torch relay during the school visits.
Stops along the way to École Par-en-bas included Truro, Pomquet, Cheticamp, Sydney, Arichat, Dartmouth, Bridgewater, Greenwood and Clare.
“None of the stops were the same, but they were all wonderful,” said Chris Frotten, the coordinator of the games who, along with Gwen LeBlanc and the games mascot Acajoux, accompanied the torch relay.
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“At each school we were surprised by all of the interest . . . the spirit is there, they’re excited about the games,” said LeBlanc.
Each school also showcased the athletes they are sending to the games.
Photographs and video were shot throughout the torch relay and a visual presentation was part of the ceremony at École Par-en-Bas (PEB) last Friday. And it wasn’t just PEB students who were part of the ceremony. Students were also bussed in from Wedgeport, West Pubnico and Belleville to participate in this last stop of the torch relay.
The torch bearers last Friday morning were Chantal Surette and Luke Schrader.
Speaking to the Vanguard after the ceremony, Neil LeBlanc said this latest event continues to show how the momentum is building for the games that are expected to bring in around 1,100 athletes when it is held here June 29 to July 3.
He added that the games are still looking for volunteers to come forward to help with the games.
“We can never have enough volunteers,” he said. “We’re aiming for 700 to 800 and if we have 1,000 it’s even better because it makes the community even more a part of it by having more people participate.”