Thousands of Bombers fans celebrate historic Grey Cup win
Twenty-nine years ago, Edgar Purganan cut class to attend the Blue Bombers Grey Cup parade. On Tuesday, he – and several thousand other dishard Bombers fans – were on Portage Avenue to celebrate the end of a 29-year Grey Cup drought.
Back in 1990, Purganan said he managed to climb onto the truck carrying the quarterbacks and ‘liberated’ the sign with pivot Danny McManus’s name which he proudly showed off Tuesday. A photo of him with the sign appeared on the front page on the next day’s Winnipeg Sun.
“I skipped school to go to the parade and then I got exposed the next day on the front page of the Sun,” recalled Purganan, who was 18 back in 1990 and drew a scolding from his mother as a result of missing school for the parade.
Purganan had no such fears as fans lined both sides of the eastbound lane of Portage and cheered as a parade of trucks carrying the Bombers players, coaches and team officials – with President and CEO Wade Miller in the lead truck – and the Grey Cup made their way down the city’s main thoroughfare past the historic Portage and Main intersection to The Forks.
Jaelynne Wormenor felt compelled to bring her daughters Jubilee and Journey and son Justice to the parade even though it meant missing a half day of school. The family dressed up in blue and gold with their faces painted and carrying signs, prompting some of the players and head coach Mike O’Shea to take pictures of them.
“It’s the once a year that they can put makeup on,” said Jaelynne. “(I wanted the children) To be part of the bigger picture and celebrate something in Winnipeg.
“I’m a teacher and sometimes it’s disheartening to hear all of the negative but it’s great to see positive things and people come together and celebrate.”
Winnipeg Police estimates that there were upwards of 10,000 people who attended the parade. No issues were reported during the parade.
“I’ve been a Bombers fan since I was a child,” ,” said long-time fan Mark, holding a sign reading “Winnerpeg Once More.” “I watched games on TV with my dad and he took me to my first game when I was about seven or eight years old. I saw Dieter Brock throw the ball like no other (quarterback) an I’ve been hooked every since.”
“I’m just so excited for (the players),” said fellow fan Debbie Kashmark. “I was sitting on pins and needles, even when we had it in the bag. I still just kept thinking what those announcers always say, that anything can happen in (the last) three minutes.”
Unlike the West Final which went down to the last second, Kashmark was happy for a less-exciting finale.
“We did it and they are such a great group of guys. I just loved it when I saw (Nic) Demski and (fellow local product and Grey Cup MVP and Most Outstanding Canadian Andrew) Harris skipping off the field arm-in-arm. It was so good to see.”
Even those in the crowd who weren’t around in 1990 or were too young to remember were reveling in the moment.
“It’s fantastic, it’s super-exciting, super-exciting for our city,” added Tracy, who said she was eight in 1990 and has no memories of that year’s Grey Cup. “Winnipeg gets a bad wrap and it’s so nice to have something to celebrate. It’s fantastic.”
The biggest cheers of the day were reserved for Harris and quarterback Chris Streveler who held the Grey Cup while wearing a fur coat but showing off his bare chest underneath. The truck carrying Streveler and the other Bombers quarterback stopped several times so that Streveler could share beers with the crowd.
The parade wrapped up with a massive rally at The Forks, featuring speeches by Premier Brian Pallister, Mayor Brian Bowman, the chair of the team’s Board of Directors Dayna Spiring, Miller and O’Shea as well as numerous players including Harris and CFL Defensive Player of the Year Willie Jefferson.
During his speech, Bowman announced the honourary renaming of Chancellor Matheson Road between University Crescent and Pembina Highway as “Grey Cup Champions Way” in recognition of the Bombers’ Grey Cup victory.
Honourary “Grey Cup Champions Way” signs will be installed later this week and will remain in place for the next five years after which they will be donated to the Bombers organization.
“Winnerpeg is bursting with excitement and we’re incredibly grateful to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for ending the Grey Cup drought and bringing it home to Winnipeg,” said Bowman. “The honourary street renaming will remind Winnipeggers of this victory for years to come while this season’s historic playoff run will live on in memories of Winnipeggers forever!”