'This means everything': Deliriously happy Bombers fans swarm Portage and Main
Thousands of football fans swarmed Winnipeg's most famous intersection Sunday night to celebrate a championship that was almost three decades in the making.
By the time the final gun sounded on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' 33-12 Grey Cup victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Portage and Main was already filling with blue and gold-clad fans of all ages and backgrounds, coming together to celebrate the city's first CFL crown in 29 years.
Police had blocked off access to the famed intersection expecting a large, raucous crowd — and fans showed up in droves.
Absolutely manic. This team loves their Head Coach. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlueBombers?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BlueBombers</a> <a href="https://t.co/At3HIzSije">pic.twitter.com/At3HIzSije</a>—@AhmarSKhan
Their voices told the stories with chants of "O'Shea, O'Shea, O'Shea," praising head coach Mike O'Shea, then shouting "Andrew Harris, MVP," in unison, as they jumped up and down.
Some poured beers into miniature Grey Cups, others threw around a football, but everyone got in on the fun in their own way.
In the heart of the crowd, Rajbir Singh, sporting his Bombers blue turban was yelling and jumping with the entire crowd.
"[This win] it means everything, for me, for this city, for everyone here. There's nothing like it, this is what we wanted, this is what we waited the whole season for," Singh said.
"We did it, we finally did it."
Singh said he had never been a part of a celebration of this nature, but was not surprised by the amount of people who turned out to take part in the joy.
"Celebrations are everything, sports are what makes this city, it's what we breathe. We breathe hockey, we breathe football, we love the Blue Bombers, we love Andrew Harris, this is our cup, our season," he said.
At ground zero in the midst of the party, Chris Sytnick, who worked for the team 40 years ago and has seen all the ups and downs over the years, was wearing a smile.
"It's the best feeling in the world, you can't describe it, I mean it's great," he said.
When pointing to the fans over his shoulder as he was wrapped up in a Bombers flag himself, Sytnick took a moment to soak in the magic of the night.
"This is family here, Bomber family, that's it," he said.
The party wasn't only at Portage and Main, as Don Johal celebrated the historic win with more than 20 of his friends and family at The Canadian Brewhouse on Kenaston.
"Who better to celebrate with, these people are the next generation, old fans, new friends, this is the best," he said.
Johal hopes the Bombers' win will be a reminder of the good in the city that's seen its share of bad headlines in recent weeks.
"It's something positive, it's not something we've had, and it's something to get behind, and it's not over yet," he said.
The positive vibes from the Bombers' win were also felt by longtime fan Jamie Bednarz.
"This win means everything, I hope it means an awful lot and people can come together and stop some of the silliness that's happening in Winnipeg and just be good people," she added.
Just across the room at the restaurant, Cavan Chan and a table filled with friends took in the game, staying until the final seconds counted off the clock.
"Twenty-nine years, 29 years, that's huge bro. We are long overdue, our city is fabulous … we showed up, I'm so proud of the Bombers," he said.
Chan said he's happy the Bombers capitalized on a national stage, doing so as the underdog.
"These guys showed up, these guys worked their asses off, and that is a representation of this whole city. Everyone is amazing and just grinds it out and we just love life."