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.
Raptors victory parade: Slow crawl leaves impatient fans ‘soured’
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.”
The crowd is getting antsy. The #RaptorsParade is running quite late. One part of the crowd ripped down a few fence pieces and another chanted “We want music” after the TVs were turned off for a bit. Strangely the parade isn’t been shown on the big screens a majority of the time. pic.twitter.com/1lGYTPMexl
— Nick Westoll (@NWestoll) June 17, 2019
Raptors victory parade: Drivers leave cars on Gardiner Expressway to watch parade
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.
— Caryn Lieberman (@caryn_lieberman) June 17, 2019
Fire district chief Stephan Powell said firefighters are dealing with about a dozen calls for dehydration in the packed NPS.
Raptors victory parade: Fans crash through barriers at media area at Nathan Phillips Square
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.
Trains are filling up here at Union— You may have to wait until next one to get home. pic.twitter.com/xf8j3L0GJM
— Jamie Mauracher (@JamieMauracher) June 17, 2019
Lots of people have climbed onto this police vehicle to view the parade at University Ave and Armoury St, some damage has been done to it as a result. @globalnewsto #WetheNorth pic.twitter.com/P7qJ5J3E1R
— Kamil Karamali (@KamilKaramali) June 17, 2019
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.
Taking the #TTC from downtown?
LINE 1: head North or South for Line 2 access (Osgoode, Queen, and Dundas stations are closed but trains will bypass to continue routes)
504 KING: regular service is resuming. You can connect to Line 2 DUNDAS WEST or BROADVIEW STATIONS
— TTC Customer Service (@TTChelps) June 17, 2019
PLEASE USE THE ENTIRE TRAIN: Our GO service is experiencing unprecedented demand this afternoon. We are running at full capacity. To ensure we can move as many people as possible, as quickly and safely as possible, please be sure to move upstairs to the second level of the trains
— GO Transit (@GOtransit) June 17, 2019
Toronto Police, Fire and Ambulance have set up a medical post in the intersection on Bay Street, South of Dundas and just East of City Hall. If you or others are feeling unwell, please look for the parked ambulance to get attention. #WeTheNorthDay #WeTheNorth #RaptorParade ^ams
— Toronto Police (@TorontoPolice) June 17, 2019
If children go astray during the parade or rally, police will bring them to 52 Division at 255 Dundas Street West. 416-808-5200. If an emergency, please call 911. #WeTheNorthDay #WeTheChampions #WeTheNorth
— Toronto Police (@TorontoPolice) June 17, 2019
Line 1 Yonge-University: Queen, Osgoode, Dundas Stations are closed due to overcrowding at street level.
— TTC Service Alerts (@TTCnotices) June 17, 2019
Nathan Phillips Square is at capacity, no one else will be allowed on the Square. Watch the parade + rally on big screen at Coronation Park. Everyone onsite: please celebrate safely… @TorontoPolice want you to be able to enjoy the entire event! #WeTheNorthDay #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/D9AfdMnEZr
— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) June 17, 2019
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.