"20 More Minutes, Liam!" - Experiencing the Raptors Parade with the Chase Kids
“Okay. SHOULD the Raptors win the championship, we’re going to go to the parade.”
- Me to my kids after seeing the city explode into jubilation after the Toronto Raptors punched their ticket to the NBA Finals after beating the Milwaukee Bucks in six games.
I’ll admit, I was nervous that the squad couldn't pull it off (you can read about my why in my last post) but on Thursday June 13th, the local team from Toronto, Ontario, Canada beat the Golden State Warriors in 6 games. Feelings of excitement, disbelief, relief and more filled not only fans of basketball’s only Canadian team but fans of sports across the nation (some 37 official viewing parties happened all across our great land. How cool is that?!). Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were filled to the brim with posts of people, like yours truly screaming “LETS GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” with pictures capturing the celebrations on the court and in downtown Toronto. And then I got a text that said:
“Perhaps we should go to the parade!”
And possibles became for sures at that moment. On Monday, June 17th, I was rewashing our raptors gear and I was taking my kids to the Toronto Raptors Parade.
Like a responsible adult with a budget, I made sure to bring enough snacks to last the entire day without having to visit Tim Horton’s or McDonalds and electronics to cover the down times, of which there were PLENTY because of the sheer amount of people on the grounds. We went with some of our closest friends and we all kept each other company as the parade, which should have ended at 12:30, slowly made its way towards us. People kept coming and coming and coming to the point where it became overwhelming…but in a good way. The energy was palpable and the anticipation was huge!
We arrived downtown in our spot at just after 8 AM and left downtown on the train at 4, just as news of a tragic shooting hit our phones. Between that time were some great laughs had, new friends made and the joining together with more than two million others to celebrate a great achievement. Ellie got to talk to one of the guys from OVO (I do not know what any of them do but they had their own float), we saw the Larry O’B and I have chosen Mark Gasol as my spirit animal.
“20 more minutes” I would keep saying to Liam as we would hear about how far the team was from our location…”They’ll be here in 20 minutes, pal!” 20 minutes became an hour of the kids getting free juicy fruit, starting random Let’s go raptors chants and playing Old Town Road on repeat.
But then finally the team showed up. Superfan led the way with his customary towel high in the air. “Thank you Masai” filled the sky as he and his family led the way in the first car. Coach Nurse looked super even keel even as he was cheered and waved at. Then there were floats with some staff people that we didn’t really know but hey, they were on floats, so they got cheered too.
Then we saw the OVO float. Chubbs, Baka Not Nice, Mellany Sanchez and others in Scorpion Jackets ate Subway sandwiches and just kinda sat there. One of the guys had a pretty funny interaction with Ellie but in the end, it pays to be connected to Drizzy Drake. (Also, Drake’s plane flew above the parade all day. That is a flex.) Finally, after 6 hours, the players turned from York onto the VERY packed University and made their way towards us. The long drive visibly took its toll on them because as much as they were excited to see us, they were hungry and tired (and possibly a bit tipsy too). Yet for us who waited, it was amazing.
Kawhi was exactly what you’d think he’d be, sitting in the back of the bus with his trophy on his lap.
Drake was on the same float taken aback like “I built this city with chips and the dip” (Funny moment: When he passed us, we yelled ‘Chips and dip!” and he replied “Real talk.” He knows what he is doing…).
Kyle held onto the NBA trophy like I was holding onto my kids.
Serge Ibaka led the charge and was all the way turned up. Pascal was too.
Jeremy Lin never stopped smiling…
I could go on…
After grabbing some street meat and hitting the train to go home, the mood of the adults (Rich, Ben and I) was bittersweet as news of a shooting at Nathan Phillips Square soured what was a great day for our team and our city. We were fortunate to be no where near it so our day, admittedly was more sweet than bitter and the stories we told of the day on the GO train ride home reflected that. And because my kids didn’t see or hear a thing, their memory of that Monday in June will be that Dad took them out of school*, bought them the best snacks and took them to see their friends and to see the Raptors. The thank yous I got on the way home and the faces they made throughout the day made it a full on win.
Hey Rich, Ben, Scott, Bart, Ejay, Ben, Dan, Andrew, Daniel and the other 2 million people who there there: Here’s hoping for same time and place next June.
Albeit with a better preparedness from the city and less drama.
LETS GO RAPTORS!!!!!!!!
* (Wifey jokingly wrote on their reason for absence that it was a religious holiday…lol! Before you write my employer to complain about our lack of reverence for real religious holidays like Christmas and Easter just count to ten.)