Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson and *NSYNC’s Lance Bass were among approximately 100 celebrities and everyday heroes that carried the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic torch as it made its way through downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday (January 15).
Bass used the torch to ignite a cauldron on the back of a pickup truck. The truck carried the flame from Orange County city Costa Mesa, approximately 50 miles south of Los Angeles, to L.A.’s Olvera Street, where runners resumed the relay.
Richardson carried the flame later that day on Figueroa Street to raise awareness about his environmental foundation, Just Within Reach (justwithinreach.org). However, Richardson was not the first Backstreet Boy to hold the Olympic flame-in December, Richardson’s groupmate Howie Dorough carried the torch in Orlando, Florida.
Thousands of spectators lined Los Angeles streets on Tuesday to catch a glimpse of stars such as Martin Sheen of NBC’s The West Wing, Laker legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, actress Goldie Hawn, and Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan. Rafer Johnson, who won the Olympic decathlon gold medal in 1960, handed a torch to actor Arnold Schwarzenegger at Citywalk in Universal City, Schwarzenegger lit an Olympic caldron-which contained the flame overnight.
When the relay resumed Wednesday (January 16), the Olympic torch traveled up the California coast and passed through Pasadena and South Pasadena en route to Salt Lake City. Among the torchbearers yesterday were actor Chris O’Donnell and Erin Brockovich.
Los Angeles hosted the Summer Games in 1932 and 1984. This year’s torch relay started in Atlanta in December, and it will end up covering more than 13,500 miles after traveling through 46 states to the XIX Winter Games, which are set to begin on February 8.