Fans flock to Grey Cup festivities in Toronto ahead of big game
Published Saturday, November 24, 2012 12:13PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, November 24, 2012 8:42PM EST
Toronto is in full-blown Grey Cup mode as the city entertains thousands of CFL fans who have descended on the city ahead of Sunday’s hotly-anticipated match-up between the Toronto Argonauts and the Calgary Stampeders.
CFL fans were treated to a traditional pancake breakfast at Nathan Phillips Square Saturday morning ahead of a day-long street festival featuring live concerts from acts such as Our Lady Peace and Fefe Dobson, an outdoor rib fest and beer tents.
During the breakfast -- a Calgary tradition -- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi made appearances and mingled with fans. The two mayors exchanged fighting, but friendly, words.
“Toronto’s going to give you guys a whooping like you’ve never had before,” said Ford, as the two mayors exchanged team jerseys.
Nenshi accepted the Argos jersey and shot back “I really do need something to wipe down my car when I get back.”
Jabs aside, Ford said the rivalry is all in good fun.
“Everyone gets along. There are no problems,” he said. “We should do this more often, if we could. I’d love to host the Grey Cup 20 years in a row, if we could, but you can’t do it.”
The two made a friendly wager earlier this week through Twitter, with Nenshi suggesting the mayor of the losing city donate his weight in food to a food bank located in the victor's city. The losing mayor must also wear the opposing team’s jersey for an entire council meeting.
Ford gladly accepted.
Meanwhile, a few blocks away at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, CFL cheer squads held their own competition.
Decked out in their team colours, cheerleaders from the Stampeders and the Argos flipped and tumbled in front of fans.
Argos cheerleader Anna B told CTV Toronto how excited the group is to perform for the city and their team.
“We are so pumped to have it not only in our city, but to be a part of the final,” she said.
A section of Front Street is closed for several Grey Cup events, while Yonge-Dundas Square near the city’s famed Eaton Centre is hosting several concerts. There’s also a mini football field set up where budding football stars can try out their skills.
CP24’s Jackie Crandles said the events are all the culmination of what has been days of build-up.
“Typically, festivities start a couple of days before the Grey Cup, but not this time. The city has been home to CFL festivities for the last 10 days and they will continue right up until the game tomorrow,” she told CTV News Channel Saturday, from outside the Metro Convention Centre where even more activities are taking place.
The event that many fans are most looking forward to, Crandles said, is Sunday’s Grey Cup Fan March.
For the first time – and in what CFL organizers hope will become a tradition -- fans will be able to get really up close and personal with the actual Grey Cup trophy as they pass it along, person to person, through the downtown core ahead of the game.
“This is something completely new to Grey Cup festivities,” says Crandles. “It’s an opportunity for fans to really get their hands on the Grey Cup itself. It’s going to leave Varsity Stadium and make its way to the Rogers Centre by way of fans and alumni players.”
CFL commissioner Mark Cohon says any fan can show up and carry the Grey Cup. The only thing he asks is: please don’t drop it.
That might be tough, since fans will be likely be bundled up in mittens and scarves. Sunday is expected to be the coldest day the city has seen this season, with a daytime high expected to reach only minus 3 Celsius. But for veteran CFL fans, a few flurries and a wind chill are nothing they are not used to.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Ashley Rowe