Orange has had its fair share of Commonwealth Games competitors and the city swells with pride when it is supporting one of its own.
On Tuesday, streets were closed down and residents lined them, waving Australian flags as their friends, family and colleagues took turns to carry the baton.
The baton, which is carrying a message from Her Majesty the Queen to be read out at April’s Commonwealth Games, was carried by a series of Orange residents to continue its journey to the Gold Coast.
Sport was not a prerequisite to be chosen to walk or run a leg of the relay: These were people picked for their service to the community, who have overcome hardship or contributed in a meaningful way.
Each was deserving and each looked as though they had a blast during their leg.
Hugs were exchanged as the baton was passed on and it was uplifting to see the participants so chuffed with their involvement.
They stopped to pose for photos and almost everyone on the sidelines was carrying a camera or taking snaps on their phone.
It’s heartening that Orange and the surrounding towns of the Central West appear to have embraced the spirit of the baton – which has crossed many countries and continents and carries an important message – with open arms.
You don’t have to be a monarchist to appreciate the significance of the relay or that it’s a little piece of history that has trotted through our city’s streets.
Those in attendance looked proud that their city was hosting this event.
It was especially pleasing to see so many youngsters lining the streets, smiling from ear to ear and waving at the familiar and not-so familiar faces walking or running past them.
Whether or not they appreciated exactly what they were watching is immaterial. One day in the future they will understand that they played some small part in history, and when that happens the memory will take on greater significance.
Just ask any of the now adults who lapped up the bicentennial celebrations in 1988, or watched on at the Olympic torch toured the nation in 2000, and they’ll tell you the same thing.
We congratulate those who have participated in the Orange leg and wish those well who eagerly await the baton’s arrival in their neck of the woods.
Let the Games begin.