MONTREAL – Tens of thousands of euphoric football fans gathered in downtown Montreal Wednesday afternoon to give a hero’s welcome to the victorious Alouettes.
The victory parade for the 97th Grey Cup Champions started just before noon with team members waving to cheering fans from parade floats as they made their way down Ste-Catherine St. in the heart of the city.
Spectators, many of them wearing the team’s colours and singing victory chants, jammed the sidewalks five or six deep to get a glimpse of the players.
Several politicians took part in the parade, including Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay, who led the procession in an open convertible. Als head coach Marc Trestman and quarterback Anthony Calvillo followed with their families.
Other members of the team and the cheerleaders rode behind on giant floats. Players Etienne Boulay and Matthieu Proulx autographed football memorabilia for dozens of fans along the route.
“I’m very, very proud of them and one thing’s for sure – we don’t have to wait for the Canadiens to see a cup in Montreal. The Alouettes brought it to us,” said Sylvain Cheral, a fan who came out wearing a team helmet.
The parade wrapped up at the city’s Place des Festivals with a ceremony in honour of the CFL champions.
“With the parade you see we have the support of fans,” said a smiling Boulay. “What happened here today is totally crazy. I shouted so much I even lost my voice.”
“Since 2002, I’ve been hearing guys tell me that the Grey Cup parade in Montreal is crazy. I never would have thought there would be this many people. The crowd here is completely hysterical and we want to share the Cup with them,” Proulx added.
Before the festivities got under way Wednesday morning, the team was welcomed to city hall by the mayor to sign Montreal’s registrar, known as the “livre d’or.” Calvillo and teammate Bryan Chiu presented the Grey Cup to Tremblay who hoisted it over his head for the crowd. Once inside, the mayor thanked each member of the team for their efforts this season.
This is the first Grey Cup for the Als since 2002. Including their 28-27 championship win against the Roughriders, the Als finished the season with 17 wins and three losses.