I'm admittedly not a huge sports person. I grew up watching baseball a little bit, but I am more of a bandwagon fan when my home team is doing well. I got into the playoffs a few years ago when the Toronto Blue Jays were doing well, and when the Toronto Raptors made their playoff run this year I really got into it.
I come from a generation of people who don't really know what it's like to see a Toronto sports team win a major championship. I was ten years old when the Blue Jays won the World Series the last time, so when it looked like the Raptors could win NBA Championship I (like many others) got really excited. Despite my excitement, the skeptic in me spent most of the playoffs not fully believing we could win it all, so when we actually won I was pumped and ready to participate in the victory parade.
On the morning of the championship parade and rally, Sean and I left our place around 8 a.m. in an attempt to get a decent viewing spot at Nathan Phillips Square (where the rally took place). Before we left we checked the news, which was already reporting that the crowd was building but we figured we were okay. When we got to Nathan Phillips Square around 8:30 there was a lot of people, but I managed to find us an open spot close to the 'Toronto sign'.
Everything was okay until about 11:30 when Nathan Phillips Square hit its capacity and everyone who had been waiting for the last three or four hours started to get antsy and climbing the arches in the centre of the square. At this point it was starting to get hot outside and everyone was getting tired of waiting for the team, who were delayed on the parade route.
I really started to begin to worry for our safety when people started pulling down the fences to get closer to the stage because we were sitting directly in front of one of fences. Even though I really wanted to get out of there before things got really dangerous, we couldn't figure out how to because were surrounded by people. Eventually I saw a bit of an opening and the people around us cleared a path for us to move. As we tried to navigate our way through the crowd a guy offered to help us leave. Things looked promising until we hit a damn one inch curb. The guy who was helping us and a few other people offered to lift our 300 pound power wheelchairs over the curb and even though I was hesitant at first, I let them do it.
When it was all said and done, it took us about an hour to leave Nathan Phillips Square and another half an hour to get home after cutting through the Eaton Centre. When we got home just before 3 p.m., we put the TV on and saw that the rally had just started. At one point the rally festivities suddenly stopped because of reports of an incident at Nathan Phillips Square. The incident turned out to be a shooting at Nathan Phillips Square and a stabbing at Eaton Centre.
Like everyone, I was freaked out and sad that the Raptors celebrations took a violent turn, but I refuse to focus on the negative. What I saw while we were at the rally were thousands of really passionate fans sporting their team's first-ever win in its 24-year history. We had people guide us out of a potentially dangerous situation. They didn't have to do that but they did and I'm grateful for it. I believe that people are generally good and that Toronto is a safe place to live. I'm sure people think Sean and I were completely crazy for deciding to go to the championship rally, but we didn't want to miss out on the experience of being with everyone celebrating the Raptors' win. Do I regret going to the rally? Not really. Sometimes you have to take risks to have experiences.