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Norwalk School Kids Pass the Torch

NORWALK, Conn. – Donna Spellman waited patiently Friday afternoon to watch a pair of children run toward her on Norwalk's Richards Avenue. It wasn't long before the sound of police sirens announced their arrival: The kids got out of a patrol car and ran briefly before hopping back in.

The Olympics had come to Norwalk with pairs of fourth- and fifth-graders running down city streets, carrying the Olympic Torch used during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, accompanied by Norwalk Police.

The Columbus Magnet School Torch Run has taken place every four years since 1984. More than 100 kids took part in the run, each pair assigned a half-mile stretch of a 25-mile course. They were cheered on by parents waiting at various points and by students at schools.

The fun began at 9:30 a.m. on the school's field with an opening ceremony. The torch then made its way through East Norwalk and then up Strawberry Hill Road to Nathan Hale Middle School. Children then took it to Wolfpit School, Cranbury School, All Saints Catholic School, West Rocks Middle School, Tracey School, Jefferson School, Kendall School, Norwalk Community College, Rowayton Elementary School and Brookside School before heading back to their home base.

Meanwhile, younger students took turns running around the school athletic field with a smaller Olympic torch. In preparation for the Torch Run event, students ran laps during gym class and learned about Olympians.

Spellman waited for Amanda Wasserman and Amanda Gabrielle at about 2 p.m., although her son was running in the last leg of the marathon. She said she cleared her afternoon to watch. "You can't not cheer on the kids," she said.

The girls got a ride in a police cruiser down Richards Avenue because the caravan was running behind. The pair got out and ran the last part to Connecticut Avenue before hopping back in and meeting the next kids on Flax Hill Road.

Spellman dashed down to Rowayton to watch her fifth grade son Ross take the torch. The spirit at the school is "infectious," she said.

"I feel like I should take vacation for the next three weeks because I don't want to miss anything," she said. "It's great."

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