Thousands of people line the streets in the pouring rain for the Grey Cup Parade.
Photograph by: Nick Procaylo, PNG
Orange, black, blue and gold, and every other Canadian Football League colour were visible in downtown Vancouver as the Grey Cup Parade made its way through the streets Saturday morning.
Despite a heavy rain, thousands amassed along Burrard Street as dozens of floats and roughly 800 participants danced, drummed, drove and marched their way north toward the waterfront.
Marching at around fourth spot in the procession were some 50 Scouts Canada members from the Fraser Valley, carrying an enormous, round Canadian flag.
“Let’s go Lions, let’s go,” a young scout yelled, mounted in a kayak on a float trailing the massive taut flag.
Young players from the Vancouver Mainland Football League riding on a float, received one of the loudest cheers in the early going.
“B ... C ... Lions!” the young athletes chanted, followed closely by a small group of older kids guiding a massive inflatable football.
Dozens of little football players clad in their own team colours scrambled behind, joined by mini cheerleaders, waving pom poms.
Then came the grown up cheerleaders. The first group to go past wore the familiar green of the Saskatchewan Roughriders—one of the most common colours downtown after the Lions’ orange, and the Bombers’ blue and gold.
At 10:50 a.m., outside the Marine building at Burrard and Hastings, a group of longtime Lions fans dressed in Blues Brothers costumes—known as the “Booze Brothers”—dragged a dummy of Blue Bomber quarterback, Buck Pierce, behind a car. They caught heckles from a trio of Bombers fans as they passed, taking turns kicking the limp QB.
“Hey,” screamed Paul Koltek, taking a few dramatic steps toward the marchers. “That’s a travesty.”
Koltek said he hasn’t been able to shake his allegiance to the blue and gold since moving to B.C. in 1988. “I’m a big Bombers fan,” he understated, adding that he had season tickets in Winnipeg for 25 years before heading west.
Koltek said he nearly got beaten up by locals during his ride on the SkyTrain this morning thanks to his Bombers jersey and his little golden, fabric helmet. “We were trying to turn them into Blue Bombers fans,” he said. “We’re having a wonderful time. It’s a little chilly.”
Drawing a rising cheer, festival Grand Marshall and Glee star, Cory Monteith made his way through Dunsmuir Street in the back of a pickup truck.
Wearing a Lions jersey with number 11 on the back, Monteith smiled and pointed to parade-goers, while onlookers shot photos and took videos on their phones.
Behind him marched the Felions, the hometown cheerleaders. As they passed, a little boy on the sidewalk growled at one of the cheerleaders nearest him.
“Rawr,” she growled back, smiling.
Half way down the parade route, the Mackowetskys of Kelowna stood wearing local orange and black enjoying the parade with couple wearing Roughrider green.
“We all have one thing in common though, Dale Mackowetsky said, pointing to a white pin displayed on each of their jerseys: “Bombers suck.”
Asked if it’s appropriate to fraternize with Riders’ fans, Mackowetsky said they had to. “We’re related.”
Joining the Mackowetskys were Riders fans Warren and Autumn Zimmer, attending their second Grey Cup in as many years. “B.C. is going to win,” predicted Autumn. “I’d say about 30 to 20.”
The crown jewel of the CFL and the highlight of the parade came toward the end of the march. Driven in a white convertible sports car and escorted by a trailing convoy of Mounties in their ceremonial red serge, the Grey Cup captured a loud burst of applause.
Saturday’s parade signalled the start of the weekend’s festivities for many Vancouverites, if the thousands of colourful Canadian Football League fans roaming downtown hadn’t already tipped them off.
Festivities continue throughout the weekend culminating in the 99th Grey Cup, contested by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the BC Lions at BC Place, Sunday at 3:00 p.m.
The Vancouver Sun would like to thank The Sutton Place Hotel for providing a space from which to film a live stream of today’s parade.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun