TORONTO — Toronto sports fans are enjoying a rare treat — a championship party in their own backyard.
The Toronto Argonauts have started their Grey Cup parade through the streets of Canada’s largest city today to celebrate their 35-22 win over the Calgary Stampeders in the 100th edition of the CFL championship game.
The procession started near Union Station and is proceeding up Bay Street to Toronto City Hall, where city officials will declare it “Toronto Argonauts Day.”
A fleet of 28 pickup trucks and one convertible is carrying quarterback Ricky Ray, running back and Grey Cup MVP Chad Kackert, wide receiver Chad Owens and others along the parade route.
Defensive tackle Adriano Belli, a known character, lounged on the roof of one of the trucks as it made its way down Wellington Street.
Fans lined the sidewalks of the parade route, many dressed in the team’s trademark double-blue and some accessorizing with flags, tuques or wigs. The players waved and signed autographs from their vehicles.
Team cheerleaders waved white and blue pompons while the Argonotes marching band played the team’s fight song “Go Argos Go.”
It’s the first championship parade in Toronto since the Argonauts won the Grey Cup in 2004 and will be a shot in the arm for the city’s long-suffering sports fans.
Canada’s largest sports market has also been its most underachieving. Baseball’s Blue Jays have not won a championship since 1993, hockey’s Maple Leafs have been shut out since 1967 and basketball’s Raptors and soccer’s Toronto FC haven’t even come close.
The Argonauts seemed destined to break Toronto’s sports curse since the beginning of the CFL season. They acquired Ray in a blockbuster trade with the Edmonton Eskimos, making it known they were serious about participating in the 100th Grey Cup on their home turf.
The team started to come together late in the season and took that momentum into the playoffs, where they easily handled Edmonton in a East Division semifinal before winning a tight East final over the rival Alouettes in front of a hostile Montreal crowd.
They were never in danger against Calgary in the title game, with Kackert racking up 195 total yards and the defence keeping the Stampeders out of the end zone until late in the fourth quarter.
A rowdy sellout crowd of 53,208 took in the game, which bodes well for an Argonauts team that struggled at the gate during the regular season. The team drew just 25,792 to cavernous Rogers Centre for the East semifinal against Edmonto