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CBS' 'The Amazing Race: Family Edition' visits Canada, finishes in Niagara Falls?
By Steve Rogers, 08/02/2005
After seemingly having fallen off the United States map following their numerous sightings of early July, the remaining teams still competing in CBS' The Amazing Race: Family Edition surfaced in Canada and Niagara Falls this past weekend, where based on the detailed reports of sightseeing tourists, it appears that the eighth edition of the CBS reality series finished its atypical and presumably less-than-global travel adventure.
The Amazing Race 8 -- officially dubbed The Amazing Race: Family Edition in the network's press materials -- reportedly began filming on July 7, with several of the show's teams of four related family members spotted in New York. From there, the competition's course appeared to slowly work its way down the east coast of the United States (with numerous eyewitnesses spotting the teams in parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., and South Carolina) before arriving in Huntsville, Alabama in the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday, July 12.
The competition's unprecedented decision to spend its first week journeying around the eastern United States prompted speculation that, due the presence of racers as young as twelve years old, The Amazing Race's producers decided to jettison the program's traditional transcontinental around-the-world (or at least mostly around-the-world) race course format and instead adopt a North America-only course. However, just when it seemed that there was little doubt that The Amazing Race 8 had embarked on a "great American family road trip" type of course, the racing teams seemingly disappeared off the U.S. map following their supposed departure for Talladega, Alabama, with few subsequent credible domestic eyewitness sightings surfacing.
Instead, reports that the teams were in Central America began emerging, with eyewitness reports that the competition visited Panama and Belize and that Race host Phil Keoghan was sighted in Costa Rica's San Jose International Airport surfacing during mid to late July.
Then, after nearly three weeks with no North American sightings, Internet message boards once again began buzzing this weekend with eyewitness reports that The Amazing Race 8 family teams had been spotted in both eastern Canada and New York's Niagara Falls area.
According to numerous online eyewitnesses, The Amazing Race 8's five remaining teams visited both Toronto and Montreal on Saturday, July 30. While in Toronto, the teams visited the Toronto Harbourfront and participated in a task in which they had to find the Kajama, a 164-foot three masted schooner that normally offers tours of the Toronto harbor on Lake Ontario. In addition to the various racing teams, The Amazing Race co-creator Bertram van Munster was also said to have been spotted on-location. After completing their visit to Toronto, the teams are said to have flown to Montreal, where they arrived around 5PM local time.
While it's unknown what the teams did in Montreal, the Tonawanda News newspaper picked up the racers' trail on Sunday, July 31. According to the News, the teams visited the American side of Niagara Falls, with eyewitnesses spotting the teams racing to a clue box set up at Terrapin Point on Goat Island in Niagara Falls State Park. The newspaper's eyewitnesses saw at least one team of four -- containing two adults and two children -- race down the nearby stairs and, with cameramen trailing and a nearby production assistant ensuring that no one interfered with the clue box before they arrived, grab an envelope containing the course's next clue. After that, other eyewitnesses reported that teams headed to nearby Joseph Davis State Park, where, although unconfirmed by park officials who apparently signed CBS confidentiality agreements, the The Amazing Race: Family Edition is rumored to have concluded.
One online eyewitness who was allegedly visiting Terrapin Point complete with video camera also provided detailed physical descriptions of the three families that are said to have reached Niagara Falls (highlight the below white area to see.) According to an EZBoard poster who alleges to have recorded the last team's arrival at the Terrapin Point clue box, the last family -- which trailed the other two final teams by about an hour -- was a Caucasian family comprised of an "average looking" father who was wearing a shirt stating "Festival Party," his "out of shape, light haired wife," and their two daughters. One of the daughters was described as bring a "fairly good looking" dark haired girl in her late teens while the second daughter was about 12 or 13 years of age and wore eyeglasses.
Based on his conversations with other folks at both Terrapin Point and Joseph Davis State Park, both of the other two earlier teams are also said to be comprised of "fairly average" white families with children, with one park ranger telling him that although the two teams were jumbled together when they ran by, one team appeared to comprised of three children and only one parent.
As for how the family edition race itself unfolded, according to at least one former The Amazing Race competitor, longtime Race viewers apparently aren't the only ones concerned about how the surprising decision to include young children and drastically tamper with the two-time Emmy Award-winning program's format might effect the show. According to a recent online posting by former The Amazing Race 6 contestant Hera McLeod, the producers had "a lot of problems" during the course of the family edition race. In fact, according to Hera, the decision to allow teams of four containing young children to compete resulted in so many "problems" that "it may actually not be a rumor that it all gets canned." Despite Hera's comments, according to CBS press materials released today, The Amazing Race: Family Edition is still scheduled to air as part of the network's Fall 2005 primetime schedule.