Parade, rally to celebrate Raptors draws huge crowds downtown

The streets of Toronto have swelled with Raptors fans as Toronto celebrates the team’s NBA championship with a parade downtown.

Hundreds of thousands of fans have lined the parade route, which began at Exhibition Place and will end at Nathan Phillips Square, where a rally will be held.

The parade was expected to wrap up at 12:30 p.m. but overcrowding has made it difficult for the vehicles to pass through the area.

Along the crowded parade route, fans could be seen on top of trucks, buses, and police cars trying to get a better view.

Fans arrived at Nathan Phillips Square as early as Saturday night to get a spot for the rally and at noon on Monday, the city said that the square was at capacity and no one else would be allowed in.

Screens at Yonge-Dundas Square are now showing the parade and rally for fans to watch.

“If you are feeling too crowded around the route and at Nathan Phillips Square, please move to Y&D,” police said in a tweet.

The city noted that fans can watch the events on the big screen at Coronation Park on Lake Shore Boulevard.

A spokesperson for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment previously said that as many as two million people could show up for the big event on Monday, which has been declared “We The North” day.

The city is advising members of the public to take public transit if they plan to come downtown this afternoon.

“If you’re coming down to celebrate, whether it’s at Nathan Phillips Square or to take in the parade anywhere along the route, leave the car at home,” City of Toronto spokesperson Brad Ross said.

“Take public transit – you’re guaranteed to get there instead of sitting in traffic.”

But the TTC has experienced its own issues due to overcrowding and has been forced to close Queen, Dundas, and Osgoode stations.

Five open air double decker buses are carrying Raptors players along their family and friends. Raptors global ambassador Drake has his own float while Raptors President Masai Ujiri and head coach Nick Nurse are travelling in separate convertibles with their families.

Raptors superfan Nav Bhatia is the honourary parade marshal.

The following road closures are in effect as of 9 a.m.:

  • Bay Street between Dundas Street and Richmond Street West.
  • Queen Street West between Yonge Street and University Avenue.
  • Chestnut and Elizabeth Streets will be fully closed.
  • Armoury Street will have restricted access
  • Eastbound exit ramps from the Gardiner Expressway for Spadina and York-Bay-Yonge

Several TTC routes will be on diversion as a result of the festivities:

  • 5 Avenue Rd
  • 6 Bay
  • 29 Dufferin
  • 121 Fort York-Esplanade
  • 501 Queen, 504 King
  • 509 Harbourfront
  • 510 Spadina
  • 511 Bathurst.
  • The 510 Spadina will not be available at Union Station.

Go Transit previously said that all regular routes will be running Monday and Union Station will remain open.


Codi Wilson,

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