Overcrowding becomes issue as millions of fans turn up for Raptors championship parade
Access to Nathan Phillips Square as well as several other public areas, including subway stations, was closed due to overcapacity as millions of fans showed up in the downtown core to celebrate the Toronto Raptors‘ historic NBA Championship win.
Yonge-Dundas Square put the parade on its screens in an attempt to get fans to move away from other overcrowded locations.
The parade kicked off at 10 a.m. at the Princes’ Gates, located on the Exhibition Place grounds.
It was supposed to then travel east on Lake Shore Boulevard West to York Street and north towards University Avenue before entering Nathan Phillips Square for a celebration rally with fans from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
However, by 12:30 p.m., the parade was still making its way on Lake Shore Boulevard West. At 2:30 p.m., they were still on York Street.
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At around noon, the City of Toronto closed the entrance to Nathan Phillips Square and said it was at capacity. Fans were urged to watch the parade at other locations, including Coronation Park, where big screens were set up.
City of Toronto spokesperson Brad Ross told Global News that fans have started to walk behind the parade as it passes by them, but asked that they stop doing that.
“Please don’t do that. There is no more room in Nathan Phillips Square,” he said.
“Police have responsibility for public order. But overall we are doing OK given the sheer numbers.”
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Several fans climbed the arches at Nathan Phillips Square to get a better vantage point. The festivities were put on pause while officials went on the loudspeaker to tell them to get down due to safety concerns.
Just before 1 p.m., officials went on the loudspeaker again to tell people to stay safe and hydrated as the temperature continued to rise and the sun was out in full force.
Ross said people are suffering from heat stroke but that paramedics are on scene to treat.
A child that appeared to be semi-conscious was pulled over by the crowd by security and put on a stretcher.
Fire district chief Stephan Powell said firefighters are dealing with about a dozen calls for dehydration in the packed NPS.
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The ramp to city hall was blocked off, but police were lifting people who want to leave up and over the wall. Emergency services set up a medical post at the intersection on bay Street, south of Dundas Street and just east of City Hall. They ask if anyone is feeling unwell, to look for the parked ambulance to get medical help.
Just after 1 p.m., fans at NPS began climbing the arches again before being told – again – to get down.
Other fans jumped atop a police cruiser to get a better vantage point, damaging the vehicle in the process.
Raptors victory parade: Fans climb on police car in attempt to watch parade
At 2 p.m., fans breached the media area at Nathan Phillips Square and outlets, including Global News, were forced to relocate.
Before the Raptors had even arrived at NPS, Union Station was already full with fans and other people looking to get out of the city.
The TTC also closed Osgoode, Queen and Dundas subway stations due to overcrowding. Fans were told to make their way north or south to other stations.
Police tweeted that if any children are found lost will be taken to 52 Division for parents to pick up.
After the parade and rally were over, transit around the city remained packed.
Go Transit tweeted reminding riders to use the entire train, as the service was “experiencing unprecedented demand.”
The TTC tweeted directions users could follow in order to find a subway to take home.
An official number of attendees hasn’t been released but the City of Toronto estimates over two million people were in attendance.
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