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Canadian Snow Birds Stage Torch Run in RV Park

Golden Village Palms RV Resort in Hemet, Calif., was hit with an avalanche of Olympic enthusiasm thanks to Canadian Snow Birds who winter in Hemet, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

The park even had its own heavily attended, Canadian-led Olympic torch run on the day of opening ceremonies in Vancouver.

The venerable retiree RV park, which was modernized into a fancy resort, is a winter habitat for hundreds of Canadians escaping the cold in the North. When the park recently hosted its 20th Annual Canada Day, visiting Canadians quickly purchased all 280 tickets.

At the gathering, Brenda Gunn, who at age 58 is in the rock ‘n’ roll generation of new retirees, carried the torch she ran with in November in Victoria during the Olympic flame relay.

Wayne Carlow said there was a strong emotional reaction when Gunn walked into the party with her torch. “No one had a dry eye,” he said.

Gunn is a retired teacher from Campbell River, British Columbia. Carlow, who calls Victoria home, retired as a video producer for BC Hydro. Both are annual visitors to Golden Village Palms.

After seeing the Canada Day reaction, they decided to stage a torch relay run by Canadians at Golden Village.

During the Olympic torch relay, Gunn only ran 300 meters. She ran farther at Golden Village.

More than 150 people gathered for the 1 1/2-mile run that wound through the streets of recreational vehicles in Golden Village. They took turns carrying the torch with Gunn running alongside. Carlow’s wife, Lee, carried a music player that sounded the Vancouver Olympics anthem, “I Believe.”

Gunn, who wore a white Olympics jogging suit and red mittens, said it was the greatest of days. It was worth giving up a round of golf to run.

Gunn was an Olympics celebrity on the day of the Golden Village torch run. She met lots of people and saw plenty of friends who traveled south from Canada. She said she has never posed for so many pictures in a day.

The torch-relay spirit didn’t end with the run. Wayne Carlow built a handsome, propane-powered facsimile of the Olympic torch. It is lit during the Games.