The Olympic Torch Comes to Oxford, UK

As its epic journey across the United Kingdom continues, yesterday the Olympic torch made its way through Oxford, welcomed by streets lined with people, music and performances. Hundreds of spectators curious to see the passing torch relay poured into the city, heading towards East Oxford’s South Parks, where the main Olympic event was being held. Flags waiving, painted faces, even a small group of people running down the street, brandishing a mock torch in the form of a broom: just a small idea of the party mood and festivities that surrounded the torch’s arrival in the city.

According to the Oxford council website, the torch was set to arrive in Oxford at around twenty past five, heading down through Blackbird Leys, Cowley Road and into South Parks at around ten to seven to light the cauldron on the main event stage. The roads heading towards South Parks were closed to traffic, allowing the colourful crowds to invade.  The only way to get close to the action was either on foot or by bicycle, at least until reaching a gridlocked Magdalen roundabout, this time not clogged with cars but excited onlookers.

In South Parks itself the main stage, also called the Tree of Light, formed the centre of the event. A massive structure of copper-coloured metal, with tanks of plants built into its fabric was to (according to the Tree of light Publicity website) lit by electricity generated by a set of cyclists, as roughly 500 dancers, singers and performers took to the stage later in the evening in one of Oxford’s largest scale community projects. Besides this, there were also double decker buses as bars, various performing acts such as capoeira, a jazz band,  and a scattering of sculptures,  including one of a giant man who seemed to tower above the park, and one of a metal, mesh teapot. Even late into the evening, after the event came to an end the streets were still busy with people in the aftermath of the torch’s arrival in Oxford.

As the torch now heads towards London, bidding farewell to Oxford this morning at Iffley Road race track, Roger Bannister, who famously ran the first sub- four minute mile at the same site 58 years ago, was there to hand over the Olympic torch to the torchbearer  Nicola Byrom. The next time many people from Oxford will now catch sight of the flame is at the Olympics opening ceremony itself on 27th July, when the flame will light the main Olympic cauldron in London when the games will finally begin…

New sources: The Oxford Mail, Oxford City Council Website, Tree of Light Publicity Website, Official website for London 2012, BBC news website.

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