No torch for Valley

January 12, 2002|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

The Olympic torch is set to pass through the Imperial Valley Monday as it begins the California leg of its journey to Salt Lake City for the Winter Olympic Games.

While the torch will enter the Valley on Interstate 8 at the Arizona state line shortly before 7:30 a.m., the torch will not be run through the Valley.

Instead, it will be driven west on I-8 until it reaches Jacumba in eastern San Diego County.

There the torch relay will start up again for a short time through that community before it is placed back into a vehicle for the journey to San Diego.

A spokeswoman for the Olympic torch relay, based in Salt Lake City, said the torch will be run through California for seven days, a longer period than in any other state.


She said for that reason, the torch will mainly be run in high-profile metropolitan areas where the most people can have a chance to see the torch.

"We try to get it close enough so that people in outside areas can see it," said the spokeswoman, who asked not to be identified.

The torch will arrive Monday in Yuma County via train from Phoenix. Once in Yuma it will be run to the state line.

The torch is expected to reach Jacumba from I-8 by 8:10 a.m.

County Supervisor Wally Leimgruber said it would have been good publicity for the Valley if the torch was going to be run through the area instead of driven.

"Having the torch run through this community would have been well-received," Leimgruber said.

Calexico Mayor Gilbert Grijalva pointed out that the Imperial Valley did have the honor of having the torch relay come through the area for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

He said perhaps this year, those in charge of the Olympics chose to give other communities a chance to experience the torch relay.

Brawley City Councilman John Benson said it would have been nice if the torch was going to be run through the Valley as a way to generate excitement for the Valley's youth.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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