Facebook Twitter

Small towns make preps for torch

SHARE Small towns make preps for torch

View Real Video - Click On Desired Bandwidth

Watch the Eyewitness News report

Many smaller Utah communities are already making big plans for when the torch comes to town - the only Olympic event their towns will see.

We've heard a lot lately about getting the venues ready, Olympic transportation and security, but other big plans are underway in rural Utah, for the only Olympic event many small town residents will get to experience.

For 50 days now, we've witnessed the emotion the Olympic flame has brought to thousands of people across America, as it has made its way from coast to coast.

The flame will spend four days traveling throughout Utah, eventually arriving in Salt Lake City on Feb. 8 to mark the beginning of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

In small communities like here in Ephraim, they are already making preparations to host the Olympic flame.

Olympic flags line Main Street, the path the torch will take. And flags from other countries are a visible reminder the Olympic spirit has arrived to rural Utah. The torch will highlight an Olympic celebration at Snow College, just before Perris Jensen is handed the torch. He's scheduled to carry the Olympic flame at the very moment he turns 100- years old.

"I'm quite excited about it, it's quite a thing for an old man," Jensen said.

Just a few miles down the road in Manti, 2,500 residents plan to crowd main street to see the flame and a hometown hero run the torch relay. 75-year-old Wilbur Braithwaite was just one of a few torchbearers recognized by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee last fall for more than 50 years of mentoring youth in his community.

And it's the chance to see this Olympic event that has some businesses planning to close up shop when the flame arrives.

"It's the only thing that we really have down here is the torch coming through," said Carol Hansen, business owner.

The Olympic flame will only spend 15-minutes in Manti, but its something community leaders are very excited about since most of the state's small towns have been left out of the torch relay.

Bob Bessey of the Manti Torch Relay Committee said, "We just appreciate the opportunity to have them come through and participate in it, it's going to be a lifetime experience, for all of us."

And this bald eagle, a symbol of the American spirit is watching the highway, the road the Olympic flame will take when the torch passes through the heart of Utah. The torch will cover a lot of territory in the four short days it is carried throughout the state.