, Thursday, February 07, 2002

Downtown Oly party begins tonight

By Diane Urbani
Deseret News staff writer

Let's just start calling it the City-Party Building, at least one Salt Lake official urges.

That official would be Mayor Rocky Anderson, heralding tonight's free festivities in his front yard — a k a Washington Square. Gladys Knight, IOC President Jacques Rogge and seven Utah performing groups welcome the Olympic torch tonight, and Anderson is inviting regular folks to "help us kick off our Olympic party in high style."

Six torch runners, whose names the Salt Lake Organizing Committee is keeping secret, will relay the Olympic flame from Abravanel Hall to Washington Square. The last one is scheduled to arrive about 10 p.m.

There apparently won't be a Stockton-to-Malone handoff during that stretch. Utah Jazz star Karl Malone isn't among those six torchbearers, said Lindsay Rowles, a torch relay spokeswoman. And John Stockton? "That doesn't mean John Stockton isn't" one of them, she said.

Salt Lake City's free downtown festival will open at 6:30 p.m. today, right after State Street and other nearby routes close to cars. Like it or not, the downtown will become the walkable community Anderson loves to tout. It will also be a hotbed of public transit, with some 300 buses shuttling Olympic revelers from 11 park-and-ride lots into downtown.

After circling Washington Square (the block surrounding the City-County Building), torchbearers will carry the Olympic flame onto the stage facing State Street around 10:10 p.m. Along with Knight's finale performance, artist Peter Max will unveil an Olympic legacy art piece he created with members of Boys and Girls Clubs of America. The lineup of musical entertainment, which begins at 7:30 p.m., includes local artists Julie de Azevedo, Peter Breinholt, Northern Voices, Seven Nations, the Utah Olympic Spirit Band and Jenny Jordan with the Cathedral of the Madeleine and Calvary Baptist Choirs.

Washington Square won't likely be easy to reach and enter, however. Security will as dense as Games-time traffic. But it's worth it, Anderson says. Nearly 100 performing soloists and groups will appear.

The Beach Boys will play a set at 3 p.m. Saturday. All of the entertainment on the square, including jumbo-video screen coverage of Olympic events, is free from 10:30 a.m. until 1 a.m., Feb. 9-23. Downtown festival hours will be shortened on the opening and closing nights of the Games, so events will run from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Feb. 8 and 24. Festival details and other information on city building hours and services is on the city's Web site,

Fear not the frigid night air. Heated tents will offer hot chocolate, hot buttered rum, coffee, hot mulled wine and all kinds of hot edible treats. Cold beer and soft drinks will also be on sale for folks who don't flinch at such wintry temperatures. Other tents will house pin-trading enthusiasts and an interactive media center with a small Internet cafe and a huge photo mosaic of snapshots taken by Utah youths.

Complete details on the free shuttles are at

Contributing: Dennis Romboy

E-mail: [email protected]

© 2002 Deseret News Publishing Company