Utah's Olympic Legacy: The Olympic torch run through Parowan

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PAROWAN, Iron County — It only lasted a couple of hours, 10 years ago. But in that short time, Main Street Parowan seemed to be the center of the world.

"When Parowan throws a party, they throw a party!" said Glen Halterman, a former mayor of the town.

Halterman was Parowan's mayor at the time the torch went through. He's now retired, but he remembers everything about that special moment.

"I can remember things that happened then a lot better than I can remember things that happened last week," Halterman laughed.

What he remembers most, though, is the fight to get the torch.

We fought for the opportunity of having (the torch here). We fought for the opportunity for people to see that Alma Richards came from Parowan.

–Sandra Benson, Parowan resident

"We had not only the city, but the school, the children, wrote letters to the Olympic committee and had little drawings and all sorts of stuff they sent up," Halterman said.

The city fought so hard because of the man who was born and raised in the town: Alma Richards was Utah's first Olympic gold medalist — in the high jump, during the 1912 Stockholm Games.

If any town should have the torch come through, residents figured Parowan was it.

"We fought for the opportunity of having that," said former high school teacher Sandra Benson. "We fought for the opportunity for people to see that Alma Richards came from Parowan."

So, the Torch Committee decided to have a meeting about it. But they held the meeting in Tremonton, some 300 miles north.

"I think that their plan was that they hoped we wouldn't show; but we showed," Halterman said.

About 10 minutes after Halterman gave his speech, the Torch Committee really had no choice. "This community rallied around; and boy, we couldn't even wait to get started," Halterman recalled.

"Parowan people like to fight for what they think is right," said Kevin Porter, principal at Parowan Elementary School.

When that torch came through, it seemed like the whole community was there to watch.

One of the torch bearers was 93-year-old Carol Wright, who smiled every single step of the way. "It was a special moment," Benson said.

Another special moment came when Richards was honored during a short ceremony. "It's more than just a torch coming through town. It's something that's meaningful," Halterman said.

And something no one in Parowan will ever forget.

"I think when we see the Olympics anywhere in the world, we smile and think: ‘We've been there. We've done that,'" Benson said. "It is a special time, and we made it a success."

In fact, folks in Parowan still talk about fighting the Olympic Torch Committee and winning. Wright's torch is now on display at City Hall.


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