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PR- 155-04
June 19, 2004


Festivities Kick-Off With Community Celebration in Astoria, Queens as Tribute to Games in Athens and Culminates with City Celebration to Remember in Times Square

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today welcomed the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Torch Relay upon its arrival in New York City as it continues its historic journey across the globe in advance of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens this summer. The event, which began with Opening Ceremonies in Athens Square Park in Queens, included over 140 Torchbearers who carried the Flame for 34 miles before arriving at its final destination in Times Square for the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron by the final Torchbearer.  Some of the points of interest that New York City's Torchbearers passed along the route included Athens Square Park, Fort Greene Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, the World Trade Center Site, the Statue of Liberty, Staten Island Yankee Stadium, Chelsea Piers, Central Park, Yankee Stadium, Rockefeller Plaza, the United Nations and Times Square.

"It is fitting that the New York City leg of the Torch Relay kicks off from Queens - our most diverse borough in the most diverse City in the world - and end in Times Square, the iconic 'Crossroads of the World' that has come to represent New York to so many around the globe," said Mayor Bloomberg. "New York City embodies the Olympic Spirit - the bringing together of peoples from all over the world to celebrate, compete, and enjoy an environment of peace, solidarity, and freedom.  It is a tremendous honor to host the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Torch Relay and celebrate the Flame's historic journey around the world."

"Pass the flame, unite the world" is the theme of the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Torch Relay that travels to 34 cities in a worldwide journey that involves more than 11,000 torchbearers. The Olympic flame will visit all previous host cities of the Olympic Summer Games, as well as Beijing (2008), and several other cities along the route. On July 9th, the Flame will return to Greece where it will travel for 36 days on its way to Athens to light the Olympic Cauldron for the Opening Ceremony of the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Games on August 13th.

"We are proud to share the Olympic flame with the entire world," said ATHENS 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. "Communities across the globe have worked hard preparing to welcome the Olympic Torch Relay. We are honoured to join these communities in celebrating the Olympic ideals of peace, noble competition, culture and education in the warmth and light of the Olympic flame."

The Opening Ceremony at Athens Square Park was hosted by the Mayor and emceed by Melina Kanakaredis, a second generation Greek-American and an Emmy nominated actress who will star in the upcoming television series CSI: New York this fall. Athens Square Park, with its statues of Athena and Socrates, sits in the heart of New York City's Greek community and was the perfect place to welcome the Flame before it is carried 34 miles, highlighting some of the best of New York City, its communities, cultures, diversity and iconic sites.

At sunset, the United Nations in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of Greece to the United Nations (UN) and the City of New York hosted a special event to mark the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Torch Relay and the Olympic Truce.  Journalist Barbara Walters emceed the event which included musical performances by the International Sejong Soloists and Archdiocesan Metropolitan Youth Choir. The ceremony at the United Nations Headquarters highlighted the call for an Olympic Truce, an appeal for the cessation of conflict during the period immediately during and after the Olympic Games.

The ATHENS 2004 Olympic Torch Relay concluded in Times Square in a spectacular event hosted by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg featuring American Idol finalists George Huff and LeToya London, as well as performances by the cast of the Tony Award winning musical "Hairspray," and Tony Award winner Brian Stokes Mitchell. Upon conclusion of the relay route, the Olympic flame was transferred to a ceremonial cauldron at the celebration site, and then be transferred to a lantern for the night.


Edward Skyler / Jennifer Falk   (212) 788-2958

Suzannne Weldon (Ketchum for Torch Relay)   (303) 666 4021

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