BY CAROLINE SELLE — On May 26, Hyattsville business owners, members of the city council, and many city employees including the Hyattsville City Police Department (HCPD) passed the Special Olympics International Games torch through a stretch of Route 1 as part of the Unified Relay Across America.

The torch is headed to Los Angeles, Ca. by way of Baltimore, Annapolis, and Cincinnati, Oh., and the relay is scheduled to take place over 46 days over three simultaneous routes in all fifty states beginning in Washington, D.C., Augusta, Maine, and Miami, Fl. Hyattsville participants took on pieces of the Mount Rainier to College Park segment of the central (D.C. to California) route.

Local business owners Chris Vigilante of Vigilante Coffee and Chris Davidson and Chris Militello of Arrow Bicycle participated in the first segment, while Mike Franklin of Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery and General Store cheered them on. City council members, including the newly elected mayor and former council president Candace Hollingsworth, former Mayor Marc Tartaro, and City Administrator Tracey Nicholson took on the next piece of the relay. At the third stop, City Clerk Laura Reams handed off the torch to HCPD Officer Lt. Alexander.

Over a dozen Hyattsville residents came to watch, and employees of local restaurants leaned out of doors as the relay passed by. Jimmy Johns employees handed spectators and participants mini sandwiches, and Vigilante coffee had a mobile cold brewed coffee stand.

“I’ve seen the Olympic torch go by, and I thought it would be fun to come out here and for my son to see this,” said Angie Gaspar.

Sue Lepresti watched with family and friends. “We have a close friend that’s involved in the Special Olympics,” she said. “[Watching] feels like giving back and support.”

“The whole support behind Special Olympics is just really phenomenal,” said Kaye Stauder. “[These athletes] are capable of achieving things in their own right. … It’s fun to be a part of that.”

Participants wore red Special Olympics t-shirts and had a police escort, which temporarily closed down parts of Route 1 and side streets from Rhode Island Avenue in D.C. and into College Park.