Glimpses from the Toronto Raptors NBA Championship Parade

Publisher-Editor SimergphotosSimerg, and Barakah

The Toronto Raptors ParadeEnjoying the moment – Malik Merchant of Simergphotos.

The parade’s start time of 10 AM had passed by the time I boarded a bus on Wynford Drive for Eglinton Station. I found myself seated in front of an excited 4 year boy named Qayyum who kept on challenging his dad, Alykhan, with numerous questions. Alykhan graciously and accurately answered the questions, a quality I greatly admired. Parents should never be dismissive to questions that their children ask. My late dad had told me during my teen years that when I was a child of about 4 or 5 I used to ask him some difficult questions – often of a scientific nature – and he greatly regretted ignoring my insightful remarks and questions at the time. It is an advice that I will pass to everyone through this small anecdote.

During the last moments in the bus Alykhan taught Qayuum the beat for “Lets Go Raptors,” – clap clap, then a momentary gap before clap, clap, clap and then “Lets Go Raptors.”

We wished one another well for the day as we reached Eglinton. It was announced, as I reached the platform, that train services were back to normal. After a fairly slow ride, I finally reached St. Andrew Subway Station and positioned myself at the corner of King Street and University Avenue.

Crowds at intersection of University Avenue and King Street. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

Crowds at intersection of University Avenue and King Street. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

Crowds at intersection of University Avenue and King Street. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

Crowds at intersection of University Avenue and King Street. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

Crowds at intersection of University Avenue and King Street. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

There was every expectation that the parade party would reach the intersection in the next hour or so. No one could accurately tell where the parade was at, since mobile services were jammed. From time to time, sirens sounded giving us hope that the parade was close to us. A team of employees working above the CIBC Banking Centre across the street had access to the latest news, and wisely decided to keep us updated about where the parade was by putting up small signs on their windows every 15 minutes. We cheered their displays. But it was a crowd at the top of a building that got us truly excited, when the parade finally reached their street.

Fans at top of building, South of King Street on University Avenue. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

First glimpse of the Toronto Raptors Mascot. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

…And for kids, the Toronto Raptors mascot was the real thing! The mascot simply known as “The Raptor” is one of the most energetic and consistently hilarious mascots in professional sports. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

First glimpse of the Raptors team buses. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

The parade finally reached us with the the players waving at us from open buses. The feeling was simply incredible — seeing faces of our team members as well as their coaches and managers who a few days earlier had won the 2019 NBA Championship for the first time in their 24 year history. This was a moment of history and I am delighted I was there to catch glimpses of the parade. A few weeks earlier I was present for the game when Kawhi Leonard shot a 3-pointer at the sound of the buzzer against the Philadelphia 6ers and led the Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Raptors Parade 038Police cordon off location of incident in which gun shots were fired, wounding 4 people. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

However, as much as I was excited about the victory and being at the parade I cannot ignore an incident that took some joy out of the parade. It took place when hundreds of people who were watching the proceedings on a jumbo screen adjacent to the grounds of City Hall, started started running westwards on Queen Street towards me. With a camera case in one hand, an Ipad in the other hand I saw frightened looks on people who moments earlier were applauding the Toronto Mayor’s remarks at Nathan Phillips Square. Was there a gunman on a shooting spree? How far away was the gunman? Would we escape the bullets? What if we were to be shot and injured or even be killed? What if anyone fell and was trampled? My family members and especially my daughter and mum came to my mind. I turned around and started running. A woman next to me ran with me pushing a stroller with a little child in it. It was the scariest moment in my life. Both of us found a little opening in a steel gate to the City Hall’s grounds and squeezed into it, while the stampede outside the grounds continued for several more minutes. But what if a gunman, if indeed it was a gunman, came into the Park? These are thoughts that run into your mind in an incident such as this? Fortunately, all those random thoughts of life, injury or death were just thoughts.

Estimates vary but a million to two million people braved hours to see the historical parade. Raptors mania had gripped the entire country and Canadians stood united behind the team that brought the NBA trophy to Canada for the first time.

Raptors players on a parade bus. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.
Joyous fans respond to TV crew. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.Marc Gasol raises the tempo at the parade. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

A glimpse of the NBA Championship trophy. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.Parade bus! Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

Serge Ibaka! Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.
Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

The Raptors Mascot who never ceases to encourage his team, whatever the state of the game! Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.
Danny Green waves to crowd at other side of street. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.
A parade bus! Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

The parade buses inch their way towards Nathan Phillips Square. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.
A parade bus displaying final score 114-110 to Raptors in Game 6 against the Golden State Warriors. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

Marc Gasol, the greatest player entertainer in the Raptors parade! Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.Kawhi Leonard with his MVP  trophy. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

Toronto Raptors paradeFans watch the parade from their office windows. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

Totronto Raptors ParadeFans enjoying the moment! Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.
Celebration! Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

Volunteers distributing Toronto Raptors Team victory photo! Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.Toronto Mayor John Tory and Raptors Mascot on stage at Nathan Phillips Square with Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy and Kawhi Leonard’s MVP trophy. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

Raptors Parade 014An obvious reference to the Raptors MVP Kawhi Leonard. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.
Fans watching a large screen relaying ceremonies taking place at Nathan Phillips Square. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.Rap star Drake, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, players and other local leaders and dignitaries on centre stage at Nathan Phillips Square. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.
Fans carry Pascal Siakam and Kawhi Leonard posters. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

Raptors Parade 035Fans with Toronto Raptors game announcer Matt Devlin. In the 10 minutes that I was around him, never did he decline a request for a photo! He was courteous and extremely polite. What a wonderful person! Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant. 
Centre stage photo opportunity for fans. Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

Raptors clothing and posters! Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

Toronto Raptors Mural on Queen StreetToronto Raptors Championship mural for all times! Photo: Simergphotos/Malik Merchant.

Date posted: June 21, 2019.


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