‘I’ll probably tear up a little bit’: Raptors victory parade to take over Toronto

After a nerve-wracking and historic playoff run that ended with the Toronto Raptors winning their first NBA title, the time has come for the team and its fans to bask in the glory of victory.

Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), the corporation that owns the Raptors, will host the team’s official championship parade and rally in downtown Toronto on Monday.

Looking for the details on the parade timing and route? We’ve got you covered.

By 6 a.m. ET Monday, an excited crowd was already filling Nathan Phillips Square in preparation for the rally and lining the parade route.

MLSE is expecting two million people to attend.

At a media event Sunday afternoon, head coach Nick Nurse and some of the top Raptors players spoke to media at the Raptors’ training facility — and they all said they’re excited to celebrate the historic win with the city.

And fans are more than ready to enjoy the moment along with them.

Some devoted Raps fans started camping out in Nathan Phillips Square yesterday morning to secure a good spot for the rally.

Morteza Hashimi said he “grew up watching basketball” and fell in love with the Raptors at a young age. He spent the night on the concrete of the square because he wanted to have an unobstructed view.

“It’s really important because the amount of years we’ve spent watching this team, the amount of heartbreaks, the devastation that we’ve had in playoffs and the really bad years that we’ve gone through,” Hashimi reflected.

“To finally have this great achievement, it’s really important to have front row seats to be able see and witness everything.”

He’s preparing for an emotional day.

“I’ll probably tear up a little bit to be honest with you,” he laughed.

Dave and Darren Pierre came down from Ottawa, backpacks stuffed with blankets and supplies, to “witness Canadian history.”

“I mean, this could be once in a lifetime. Having a championship in Toronto, especially in Canada, I just can’t miss this,” said Dave.

The pair figured they’d have to arrive early, given the crowds that filled Jurassic Park through the playoffs.

“I just want the best seat in the house. I want to be able to see it with my own two eyes,” said Darren.

“It’s something I’ve been waiting for since I was a kid. All that emotion, all that joy. Watching them over the years — it’s unbelievable.”

‘We the North Day’ in Toronto

Ahead of the festivities, Toronto Mayor John Tory declared today “We the North Day” in the city.

“This victory is also for the passionate Toronto Raptors fans, who are the best in the league and filled Jurassic Parks in Toronto and across the country,” Tory said in his official proclamation.

“This championship is the culmination of years of patience, support, devotion and belief. Toronto has proven that it is a basketball city and that the game thrives in The North.”

The team, along with the Larry O’Brien Trophy, will be riding in open-air double-decker buses during the parade, which is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET at the Princes’ Gates at Exhibition Place.

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are also getting in on the fun, with a planned flyover of the rally at around 12:30 p.m. ET.

The parade route and schedule:

  • The parade will leave the Princes’ Gates at 10 a.m. and head east on Lake Shore Boulevard.
  • It will turn north on York Street and continue north on University Avenue.
  • It will turn east on Queen Street to enter Nathan Phillips Square at 12:30 p.m.

The post-parade rally is scheduled to wrap up around 1:30 p.m.

A viewing party will be held at Coronation Park at 711 Lake Shore Boulevard W. on the waterfront.

There will be lots of traffic and transit disruptions throughout the parade, as police plan to enforce rolling closures along the route. Raptors players, coaches and staff started returning to the city on various flights on Saturday to throngs of cheering fans gathered at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Since their Game 6 win over the Golden State Warriors last week, many players have been celebrating in Las Vegas alongside rapper Drake.

Nonetheless, Raptors president Masai Ujiri said in a statement that the team will be ready to keep the party going.

“This means so much to our city and to many in Canada, and we are looking forward to showing everyone the Larry O’Brien Trophy on Monday,” he said.

“Bringing the NBA championship to Toronto is the realization of a goal for our team and for our players, and we are thrilled to be able to celebrate together with our fans.”

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