Huge crowds pack downtown Toronto for championship parade
ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 18, 2019 10:47 AM
Photo c/o @NBA
TORONTO (AP) — Droves of jubilant Raptors fans packed downtown Toronto on Monday (earyl Tuesday, PHL time) for a parade for the NBA champions, raising safety concerns as problems with overcrowding persisted.
The parade route ends in a square outside City Hall, where police have begun to lift those seeking safety over barricades to help them escape the crush. A child pulled over a barrier and onto a stretcher was among those evacuated. City officials have prevented any further entry into the square and have shut down several subway stations near the parade due to overcrowding.
Mayor John Tory previously urged every resident to come celebrate the Raptors’ first championship and declared Monday “We The North Day” in Toronto, after the franchise’s slogan.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was scheduled to attend, as was Ontario Premier Doug Ford. Rapper and Toronto native Drake, among the Raptors’ best-known fans, was celebrating alongside the players on one of the parade buses.
Some 1.5 million fans withstood the conditions to attend the parade. Nicolas Caramanna, 21, said the crowd started to get rowdy shortly after he arrived at 9 a.m.
“I’m really hot and tired, but I’m going to stick around,” he said. “When else am I going to get a chance to do this?”
Many others chose to miss school or work. Cypher Sabanal, 15, said his mom let him skip class to attend the celebration.
“I actually have exams this week, but being here is worth it,” he said.
John Moreira called in sick to work so he could be part of Toronto’s first celebration of this magnitude since the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series in 1993.
“I told my boss I wanted to be at the parade and he said there wasn’t much he could do if I called in sick, so that’s exactly what I did,” the 31-year-old said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the whole team. They all work so hard and deserve all the fans being out here.”
As the parade inched forward — discernibly behind schedule — a number of Raptors could not help but marvel at the fan response.
“It’s been amazing,” star forward Kawhi Leonard said. “Thank you Toronto, thank you Canada for the support, we did it.”
Several fans were seen carrying signs imploring Leonard to re-sign with the Raptors. The two-time Finals MVP will be a free agent this summer.
Star guard Kyle Lowry, the team’s longest-serving member, was seen hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy while his teammates smoked cigars.
“This is unbelievable,” he said.
????? @Raptors PA Announcer Herbie Kuhn takes us through the journey from calling Toronto's 1st game in 1995 to winning the franchise's 1st Championship! ????— NBA (@NBA) June 17, 2019
Watch the @Raptors Championship Parade live on @nbatv, https://t.co/Pqxh2EPubW & the NBA app! #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/n2nUH7X1Jw
Big Big Congrats to the @Raptors and Canada for winning the @NBA championship. So many longstanding relationships with people deeply involved. Couldn’t be prouder of far the game has grown in our incredible country. Enjoy the parade! ????????????????????????????????????????????— Steve Nash (@SteveNash) June 17, 2019
The party continues in Toronto! pic.twitter.com/z1ha20grUp— NBA (@NBA) June 17, 2019
“Canada, the NBA title is yours!”@Raptors play-by-play announcer Matt Devlin gives his impression on Toronto's title run!— NBA (@NBA) June 17, 2019
Watch the @Raptors Championship Parade live on @nbatv, https://t.co/Pqxh2EPubW & the NBA app! #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/33miQdamOC
MVP ???? pic.twitter.com/6WNSOPzlEl— NBA (@NBA) June 17, 2019
"Anytime that it's a first time, it's a big deal" @Raptors coach and 2x #NBAGLeague champ Nick Nurse reflects on the impact winning the first @nba title has for the city of Toronto ???????? ???? pic.twitter.com/dk8W3oaX4c— NBA G League (@nbagleague) June 17, 2019
"The work that I put in. The work that this team put in... We knew we could do something special and we went out there and did it."@npowell2404 on the grind to become an NBA Champion. #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/ReOBoqSobz— NBA (@NBA) June 17, 2019
The plant’s been delivered! pic.twitter.com/HK7pf5Iotk— NBA (@NBA) June 17, 2019
"I want to thank all the fans that we have out here... We wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for you guys." @Klow7 shows the fans love at the @Raptors Championship Parade. #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/6vxmahHRG8— NBA (@NBA) June 17, 2019
"You guys were along the ride with us every step of the way... Enjoy this moment, enjoy this time, enjoy this championship."@npowell2404's message for all @Raptors fans. #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/1sd4azyhe2— NBA (@NBA) June 17, 2019