PAROWAN ? Things arrive a little late sometimes in this one-time frontier town that paved the way for the settling of southern Utah.

Carol Wright didn't receive her 2002 Winter Games torchbearer uniform until Monday afternoon. The 93-year-old relative of Utah's first Olympic gold medalist, Alma Richards, worried she would have to wear regular clothes to carry the flame this morning.

"We had a hard time even getting them to bring the torch through Parowan," Wright said, recalling how the Salt Lake Organizing Committee initially left the town 18 miles north of Cedar City off the relay map. Public outcry over bypassing the hometown of a Utah gold-medal hero caused SLOC to reconsider.

And townsfolk vowed Olympic organizers wouldn't be sorry.

Pealing bells in the Old Rock Church heralded the Olympic flame's entry into the city Tuesday. A traditional cannon salute bid it farewell.

Wright held the torch with pride before nearly all 2,500 residents and 4 1/2 generations of her family. (A great-granddaughter is due with Wright's first great-great-grandchild in March.)

Wright's stroll down Main ended fittingly in front of Richards' boyhood home, where town leaders paid tribute to his high-jump victory in the 1912 Olympics.

The Olympic torch relay, which started in St. George this morning, was to, with the exception of a side trip to Sanpete County, follow the I-15 corridor to Provo for an evening celebration outside LaVell Edwards Stadium. In Ephraim on Tuesday afternoon, 100-year-old Sandy resident Perris Jensen was to carry the torch on his birthday. Crowds were expected to build as the caravan moved moves north.

Though the torch was only in Cedar City for an hour and 20 minutes this morning, the city made the most of that time. More than 12,000 people packed into Southern Utah University's Eccles Coliseum for a short program and a 10-minute visit by the flame.

Rich Burchby took the flame for a lap around the track lined by 250 international flags and 150 American flags. Fireworks were shot into the morning sky as Burchby then used the flame to light the saucer-shaped caldron used for the Utah Summer Games at the stadium. A flame will stay there through the Winter Games.

"I just couldn't believe all the people I saw there," Burchby said after lighting the flame. "I still can't believe I'm the lucky guy that got to do this."

Monday, after a dramatic sunrise start at Delicate Arch, the torch came to a stop for the night in St. George at a huge community celebration outside of Red Cliffs Mall. Even though the torch was more than an hour behind schedule, more than 15,000 people stayed put in their lawn chairs to see former St. George Mayor Karl Brooks light the caldron.

The final 200-foot stretch before the caldron was on a raised catwalk in the middle of the crowd. Brooks, who has trouble walking due to a stroke, was helped along the way by St. George City Manager Gary Esplin. "I told Gary that he carried me for the 12 years I was mayor so he can carry me 200 feet more," Brooks said.

Other heros were out in St. George as well.

After years of cheering at her siblings' ball games, Micki Mangum finally had her much deserved chance to be the one who was cheered.

"This is the one thing no one else gets to do and we're all here to cheer her on," said Micki's mother Patricia while surrounded by family who had come in from all over to see Micki carry the torch on her wheelchair. "She's always been cheerleader for everyone else.

Micki has a degenerative neurological disease that has left her small body frail and unable to walk and took away her power of speech.

The torch run has changed Patricia Mangum's thoughts about the Winter Games.

"When I first heard about Salt Lake getting the Olympics, I was like, 'Yeah this doesn't really mean anything for us down here,' " Mangum said. "Sometimes we feel like Utah thinks the state stops after Provo. This torch run helps make this Utah's Olympics." On Wednesday, the torch is scheduled to visit communities in Tooele, Davis, Weber, Box Elder and Cache counties before ending its day at Ogden, where a celebration is planned for about 10:40 p.m. at 25th Street and Wall Avenue.

E-MAIL: romboy@desnews.com ; pthunell@desnews.com