Olympic Torch to light up Portrush

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THE borough of Coleraine is to lead the way this summer by hosting Northern Ireland’s first Olympic Torch Relay Celebration in the form of a two-day bank holiday extravaganza at Portrush costing £100,000.

Thousands are expected to line the route of the famous torch as it comes to Portrush on Sunday, June 3 for an overnight stay and Council are planning to mark the occasion with a Sunday night community party at the resort’s recently revamped East Strand.

Ten thousand people will be invited to attend the evening celebration which will feature a number of celebrity acts yet to be announced together with local performers who will “showcase the borough’s talents.”

Hosted by Coleraine with the permission of the London Olympic Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) the event will form the borough’s main focus of the Queen’s Jubilee weekend which will also boast community celebrations including a two-day equestrian display, a 24-hour yacht club regatta, a Bann Rowing Club event, arts attractions at both Flowerfield and Riverside, Portrush Raft Race and ‘Sport Comes To Town’ which will be hosted by the University of Ulster.

Coleraine Council will host two legs of the Olympic Torch Relay on Sunday and Monday, June 3-4. For security and financial reasons, the exact detail of the route will not become public knowledge until May but Council officers are already working with PSNI to co-ordinate the logistics of staging such a high profile event.

The local authority hopes that the relay will lead to a feeling of inclusion in the 2012 Olympic Games and will have a positive spin off for the borough’s health with members of the public encouraged to get involved in sport and leisure activities.

Being the first to host the torch in Northern Ireland, the local authority is also hopeful that it will showcase to a worldwide audience, Portrush as well as the Coleraine borough in general.

Council’s Director of Leisure Services, Mr. Richard Baker, revealed the plans at last week’s council meeting during which he announced the creation of a detailed event strategy which would be developed by monthly “event planning meetings” under the control of Council’s Olympic Games 2012 Sub-Group.

He told the meeting: “Following significant effort, Coleraine Borough Council was invited to host the 2012 Torch Relay, [through] which it is aimed to effectively and efficiently generate maximum regional exposure, local gain and allow the Borough’s citizens to witness and participate in the Olympic Torch Relay.”

The estimated £80,000 to £100,000 hosting cost will cover essential Council provisions including crowd barriers, staff security, toilets and attendants, back of house accommodation, medical requirements, marketing and dressing, sporting grants, post clean-up, communications, ticket production/distribution/stewarding, entertainment and park & ride/transport costs during the relay.