It was the type of scene usually reserved for visiting heads of state or at least rock stars. Squadrons of police cars and motorcycles with emergency lights flashing buzzed back and forth. One of the city's most travelled arteries blocked to traffic as crowds of spectators lined the sidewalk all for a little fire and glory.
The 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games torch made its way from one runner to another - 200 metres at a time - from the 401 to Victoria Park, where a far larger throng and a couple of decorated Olympians awaited.
At the intersection of Baseline Road and Wellington, elite track athlete Jen Cotten, who just missed making it to the Games as a competitor herself, handed the torch off to Metroland Southwest Regional Advertising Director Nelson Parreira.
Cotten said carrying the torch had been a thrill.
"It was a lot of fun and it was kind of a rush, but it was over so fast.”
She said that as an athlete she'd been selected for the honour, but her heart still longed for Toronto.
"I had hoped to make it to the Pan Am Games in the 400m hurdles, but it didn't work out that way. Maybe the world championships this summer."
Parreira wore a wide smile when he saw the crowd waiting to cheer him on.
"I'm just feeling amazing," he said. "It's a great opportunity and I'm really thrilled to have been chosen. Family and friends are here, so it's a great thing to have participated in."
Meanwhile, the crowd at Victoria Park was more than ready to welcome its special guest.
Engulfed by a flurry of colour, hundreds of spectators waved flags and cheered as decathlete Damian Warner made his way to the stage, grinning from ear to ear.
Making his way to the cauldron, the local hero waved to the crowd before lighting the Pan Am flame, signaling the relay’s London arrival.
Describing the day’s experience as awesome, Warner said getting the chance to bring the flame to London was one he would never forget.
“London has done a great job of supporting me and a lot of athletes here so it’s nice to come back and show some support, be up there and light the cauldron,” he said, adding he can hardly wait for his chance to represent his country. “I just can’t wait to put on the Canadian colours and go out there and really compete. Hopefully the support we’ll get from the fans will be amazing and a lot of Canadian athletes will go out there and just perform at their best.”
An inspirational moment, Warner said, was receiving the flame from newly retired speed skater Christine Nesbitt before heading into the final stretch, a sentiment echoed by the Olympic gold medal winner herself.
“I was almost really handing off a torch to Damian to continue on his strong career . . . I’m excited to see him grow as an athlete and a person,” she said with a smile. “It’s also just really exciting for me to be in London and to show my support for so many of our athletes I’ve admired for so many years.”
The Pan Am flame will continue its journey from London, with stops in Woodstock and Tavistock, before arriving in Kitchener June 18.