Maitland had waited 44 years for the magic of the Olympic flame to return to the city. And what a party the city put on in August 2000 for the relay which had already captured the nation's imagination and emotions ahead of the Sydney Olympic Games . An inland sea of faces greeted the iconic symbol just 16 days ahead of the start of the Sydney games. Four white doves were released and two Tiger Moths did a flyover to welcome the relay to the city. Blown along by the traditional August westerly winds the 99 torch bearers carried the torch 50 kilometres from Cessnock and the Pokolbin vineyards to Maitland Park. An estimated 25,000 people packed into the park for plenty of entertainment - including performances by Christine Anu - before the highly anticipated arrival of the flame. And the Maitland Mercury was there to capture all the emotion of the day. There were 130 volunteers to handle everything from information to parking from service organisations across the city. For the 99 torch bearers, the honour was special and meant something different for each of them. John Lane, then 60,from Maitland had carried the torch in 1956 before doing it again in 2000. Dave Harwood who carried the torch to the community cauldron to light was also making a repeat relay appearance having carried the flame in Maitland in 1956. Maitland high school student Clinton Modinger had the honour of being the last escort of a runner, right up to be close enough to touch the cauldron at Maitland Park. Clinton was nominated by his teachers at Maitland Grossmann High School as an escort runner for his fighting spirit and contribution to the local community. Described a "the boy loved by everyone" the Mercury's report noted he received one of the loudest cheers of the day from supporters. There were plenty of stories from the crowd too such as the Watters siblings. Fletcher, 11, and his sister Maddison, 8, were cheering on their Maitland police officer dad Mark. Mark had run around 40 kilometres with the relay as a security runner ensuring the torch safely reached Maitland Park. For then 72-year-old Ron Hedges from Tenambit it was a case of deja vu. He was present for the 1956 torch relay through Maitland. He was there again in 2000 with his wife to cheer on fellow Probus club member Dave Harwood carrying the torch. Take a stroll back in time and have a look through our gallery from the Mercury archives. Let us know if you have a story or photographs from that special day 20 years ago to share. We'd love to hear from you! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch through our Facebook page. READ MORE: Do you know you can subscribe to get full access to all Maitland Mercury stories? Subscribing supports us in our local news coverage. To subscribe, click here.