As the parade wound through the downtown core, Wilkie’s supporters followed close behind, many proudly carrying signs bearing messages of support and congratulations. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Photos: Salmon Arm celebrates Paralympic champion Natalie Wilkie

Hometown hero welcomed home with parade, recognition ceremony at city hall

Salmon Arm welcomed home Paralympic champion Natalie Wilkie in style on March 23 with a parade through the downtown core followed by a recognition ceremony at city hall.

The streets were brimming with excited chatter as the 11:30 a.m. mark rolled around and the Salmon Arm and Ranchero Fire Department trucks carrying Wilkie and her entourage started making their way onto the streets. As soon as she came into view, the crowd erupted in applause and cheers, thrilled to see their new hometown hero back in Salmon Arm after her eventful outing to PyeongChang for the Paralympics.

Related: Wilkie returns home with three medals in tow

After winding its way through downtown, the convoy made its last stop in front of city hall, followed closely by a throng of supporters waving them along. Wilkie disembarked and was immediately mobbed by excited friends and family eager to get the first photo or hug from the young skier.

Related: Salmon Arm cheers on Natalie Wilkie as she wins gold medal

Mayor Nancy Cooper and Coun. Ken Jamieson then joined Wilkie, her sisters and her mother Karin Huster in front of city hall. They presented Wilkie with an honorary key to the city, a certificate of recognition for her achievements, as well as a bouquet of red and white flowers to symbolize Team Canada’s colours.

Gerry Thomas of the Neskonlith band also spoke a few words of congratulation to Wilkie on behalf of local indigenous groups, expressing pride in how she represented the community.

The 17-year-old Paralympic gold medallist now returns to life in Salmon Arm, leaving her international exploits behind her. For now, at least.


 

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The final leg of the parade closed in on city hall, where a large crowd formed to greet them and attend a recognition ceremony by Salmon Arm Mayor Nancy Cooper and Coun. Ken Jamieson. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Gerry Thomas spoke a few words of congratulations on behalf of local indigenous groups, expressing pride that Wilkie helped bring the Shuswap to the world stage. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

The crowd in front of city hall was eager to press close and snap photos of Paralympic champion Natalie Wilkie and the gold medal displayed proudly around her neck. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Wilkie was joined by her mother, Karin Huster, during the ceremony at city hall. The pair were all smiles throughout the event, basking in the community pride directed their way. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Salmon Arm Councillor Ken Jamieson and Mayor Nancy Cooper presented Natalie Wilkie with an honorary key to the city, painted gold to match her first Paralympic gold medal. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

As the celebrations came to a close, Wilkie spoke a few words of humble thanks to the crowd of friends, family and supporters, saying she was grateful for their support and everything they have done to show their pride in her accomplishments. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

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