East met West as thousands of local people celebrated the Olympic Torch Relay arrival in Waltham Abbey on Saturday 7 July. Estimates of up to 20,000 people thronged the streets, many enjoying the antics of street-entertainers preceding the Flame. As the Flame departed for the Lee Valley White Water Centre, the Epping Forest Pipe Band marched from Waltham Abbey Town Hall towards the Meridian Line to be met by two Chinese lions dancing their way down from the Epping Forest District Museum.
Further displays of Chinese culture were on show outside the Museum where the Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor Brian Rolfe launched an exhibition of China in the East. Displays of Tai Chi and dance entertained the Sun Street crowds as further community events commenced in the Abbey Gardens.
The Epping Forest Pipe Band led spectators into the Abbey Gardens where they were treated to rousing performances from the Funky Voices choir, further performances of the Epping Forest Pipe Band and the Make a Move dancers. In addition to the performances, there was a variety of activities for both children and adults, including Tai Chi demonstrations, Play in the Park games, Healthworks, Mini Beasts, canoeing machines and Giant Games.
Councillor Liz Webster, ‘Olympics Champion’ for Epping Forest District Council and Mayor of Waltham Abbey Town Council, was delighted with the day. She said: “Waltham Abbey turned on the style today. Nowhere has the Olympic Flame received a better reception than in Waltham Abbey. The crowds were amazing. I have never seen our streets so colourful or the town looking better.
“There are just so many people to thank. From the teams of workers mowing the grass, clearing litter and putting up decorations to the entertainers in Sun Street and the Abbey Gardens, everyone was wonderful. We should also remember the time and energy spent in planning the day. Epping Forest District Council, Waltham Abbey Town Council, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, Waltham Abbey Town Centre Partnership, Essex Police and many other organisations working with local businesses and volunteers did a terrific job. The crowds had a marvellous time. I am sure it will live in the memories of people for many years to come.”
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