Thousands of Raptors fans poured into Toronto Monday, overwhelming downtown streets and throwing off the planned victory parade’s schedule.
The Raptors have made their way along the Parade route, taking over four hours to arrive at Nathan Phillips Square. A fan rally took place in the square for the hundred thousand fans who have been camped out since sunrise.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mayor John Tory both spoke during the rally as Tory presented the key to the city to the Raptors and Kawhi Leonard and announced Bremner Boulevard from York Street to Lake Shore Boulevard would be renamed “Raptors Way.”
The festivities were interrupted when gunshots rang out near Nathan Phillips Square. Two people were seriously injured and another two were arrested on the scene. Several people were also treated after being caught in a stampede following the shots.
Raptors play-by-play announcer Matt Devlin spoke to the crowd, saying there had been an emergency and urged fans to remain calm.
As more and more people crowded into the city to see the parade, the TTC closed Queen, Osgoode, Dundas subway stations because of overcrowding, but they have all since reopened.
Nathan Phillips Square was at capacity long before the parade arrived so The City of Toronto opened Yonge-Dundas Square as an alternative viewing site.
MLSE had estimated that as many as two million people would be at the parade.
Raptors global ambassador Drake had his own float at the parade and Superfan Nav Bhatia served as the Honorary Parade Marshall.
City of Toronto spokesperson Brad Ross said the parade moved slower than anticipated because of the sheer volume of fans who came to celebrate with the Raptors.
“There are so many people that are so eager to celebrate with this team … Everything otherwise is going well,” said Ross. He urges people who are trying to take the TTC to walk north of the downtown.
Once players arrive, the rally lasted just under an hour.
“That’s what’s going to take some time, getting all of these people out of the downtown corridor where they need to go. So as I say, pack lots of patience. Once the team arrives in the square and things get going, we are about an hour from there.”
Mayor John Tory walked into the growing crowd outside city hall early in the morning and spoke with several fans and they were all in the mood to celebrate.
“I went down and talked to them, some of them, of course, were here all night, some have come first thing this morning, but they’re all in a great mood,” he said.
“They are happy, in some cases, that their employer actually said, as I hoped would be the case, that they could take some of the day off to go to the parade.”
At Nathan Phillips Square, there were reports some in the crowd were asking for water.
— Momin Qureshi (@Momin680NEWS) June 17, 2019
— Devo Brown (@devobrown) June 17, 2019