Toronto·Point of View

I camped out with Raptors fans in line for Jurassic Park — here's what happened

When Makda Ghebreslassie heard that Raptors fans were camping out to be among the first to get into Jurassic Park for Game 5 of the NBA Finals, she decided she would join them for the night.

Makda Ghebreslassie spent the night with dozens of people in line to get into Jurassic Park

A Toronto Raptors fan gives the thumbs up Sunday night while waiting in line to get into Jurassic Park, the viewing area outside of Scotiabank Arena. Over 50 fans camped out overnight to watch Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night from Jurassic Park. (Spencer Gallachian-Lowe/CBC)

When I heard that Raptors fans were camping out to be among the first to get into Jurassic Park to watch the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors battle it out in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, I thought it would make for a fun story if I joined them for the night. 

So Sunday evening I packed up my sleeping bag, comforter and all the tech toys needed to file several stories throughout the night and made my way over to Scotiabank Arena.

Fans camping out for a spot in Jurassic Park for Game 5 of the NBA Finals were greeted by Raptors president Masai Ujiri. He said he showed up because "they are cool, best fans in the world." 0:15

There I found about 30 fans already lined up and Jurassic Park regular Alex Brown was among them.

"They call me 'Jersey boy,'" he said.

His number five, white Raptors jersey bares the names of hardcore fans like himself.

"Game 4 I had everyone in this line up here sign this jersey," he said.

So of course I signed my name on it too.

Alex Brown is also known as 'Jersey boy.' He's a hardcore Raptors fan who has spent a lot of time at Jurassic Park during the NBA playoffs. (Spencer Gallachian-Lowe/CBC)

'It's just our home away from home'

I also met Mark Milman and Zack Stemar who gave me a tour of the tent they set up for the night.

"We've got a pretty good thing going here. We've got snacks. We've got a comfy place to lay down," said Millman.

"It's just our home away from home to set up to watch the Raptors win the NBA championship tomorrow after waiting all these years," said Stemar.

Makda Ghebreslassie spent the night with dozens of people in line to get into Jurassic Park. (Spencer Gallachian-Lowe/CBC)

By 11 p.m. more than 50 people were in line. As the crowd grew so did the chants and cheers: "Raps in five! We the north!"

And many of them came with signs of support. Roberto Bernabe held one up that said: 'Raptors Fans from Philippines.'

"The Philippines is a huge basketball-crazy nation," he said.

Bernabe then flipped the sign around to show the other message: 'Warriors exit here.'

Masai Ujiri surprises campers

Just as things were quieting down an unexpected guest arrived. Raptors President Masai Ujiri showed up to take pictures and sign autographs.

I asked him why he decided to come out and see the fans and he said: "because they are cool. Best fans in the world."

Tarps cover fans from the rain as they wait in line to get into Jurassic Park for Game 5 of the NBA Finals. (Spencer Gallachian-Lowe/CBC)

One of those fans is also a birthday boy. Right at midnight the crowd of  friends and strangers came together to sing Happy Birthday to Prashan Siva.

"I feel so great," he said

It doesn't take much to figure out what this 33-year-old is wishing for now.

"We're making history on my birthday. That's it."

Eventually the party died down and by 4 a.m. most of the fans were fast asleep protected from the rain by tarps. I wonder if they're all dreaming of a Raptors win come Monday night.

Fans get some sleep Sunday night while in line to get in to Jurassic Park. (Spencer Gallachian-Lowe/CBC)

About the Author

Makda Ghebreslassie

CBC Toronto reporter

Makda is a CBC Video-Journalist, who from time to time fills in as TV news anchor and a newsreader on Here and Now and Fresh Air. She worked in newsrooms in Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and Windsor before moving back home to Toronto. makda.ghebreslassie@cbc.ca

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