Path to the Olympics

White Rock native Adera Angelucci nears the finish line of the Olympic torch relay

For the last 103 days, Adera Angelucci has been on her feet.

Sometimes dancing, sometimes walking, and occasionally standing and banging a drum, but on her feet nonetheless.

Such an effort comes with the territory of being part of Coca-Cola’s Open Happiness team – a group of about 60 who have travelled coast to coast with the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay, promoting the Games.

“We’re the party-starters,” said Angelucci, a White Rock native who graduated from Earl Marriott Secondary in 1999. “We have two trucks and during the relay we stay about five minutes ahead of the relay, and get people pumped up for when the torch comes.”

Angelucci has been with the torch for the entirety of the relay, which has lasted three months and is the longest in Olympic history. She applied for the position while living in Ireland – where she worked as a travel advisor – and said the temporary gig has been the most rewarding job she’s held.

“It’s been absolutely amazing. I can’t even really put it into words,” she said.

“Wherever we go, people are just so excited – kids’ faces just light up when we come through, banging our drums and waving to people.

“I’ve seen that flame now every day for more than 100 days, and every time I see it, it still pulls at my heart strings.”

It’s not always an easy job, however, she admitted.

Typically, Team Happiness members are on duty for about 15 hours each day. On Monday, for example – when the torch started in Mission and ended in Surrey by way of Langley and Aldergrove – Angelluci was up at 4 a.m., and didn’t get back to the hotel until after 8 p.m.

“It’s tiring sometimes, sure. We’ve travelled about 45,000 kilometres and I bet I’ve probably walked 25,000 of those – my shoes have taken a beating,” she laughed.

“But it’s the best job ever – a pretty amazing way to see the entire country.”

While some team members will continue to work during the Olympic Games – at Coca-Cola’s party headquarters at Vancouver’s David Lam Park – Angelluci said she’ll spend most of her time relaxing and watching the events.

“The minute the torch goes into B.C. Place (Friday), we’re done, and it won’t be about us anymore,” she said, adding that a private opening-ceremony viewing party has been organized for team members.

And what has the Peninsula resident learned from her three-month cross-country odyssey?

“That we’re a very happy country,” she said.