Some children skipped school and adults did the same with work to join the crowd at a Grey Cup parade in Regina on Tuesday.
The parade and rally were held to celebrate the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ 45-23 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday in the CFL’s championship game.
Flatbed trucks carried players from Mosaic Stadium through part of downtown Regina that has been dubbed the “Green Mile” to the Saskatchewan legislature. Fans dressed in green and white cheered along the route, then followed the players to the rally at the provincial legislature.
The biggest cheers were for Riders head coach Corey Chamblin, quarterback Darian Durant and running back Kory Sheets.
“Let’s go Riders,” Chamblin shouted when he stepped up to the microphone at the rally, and the crowd echoed back.
“I love it,” said Chamblin. “This is a special place, with special people, with a special team and we deserve the cup. On behalf of the premier and the mayor, we all have the month of December off.”
Then came the chants of Darian, Darian, Darian” and the Riders quarterback was greeted with wild enthusiasm.
“I remember when we came back from Calgary in 2009 and I told you guys that we’d be playing for plenty of Grey Cups ahead and I made that promise to you. And now I’m so glad, with the help of my guys, to finally bring that Grey Cup right back here to Saskatchewan where it belongs,” Durant said to the crowd.
“I just want to thank everyone, especially in Rider Nation for all your support, not just for me but for this team.
“We had a lot of ups and downs this season, but we stuck together, you guys stuck with us, and now this is the ultimate reward at the end of the day. There’s no better feeling than to have won this Grey Cup right here in Saskatchewan, where it belongs.”
The crowd screamed when Durant went inside the legislature and raised the cup on a balcony over their heads.
The path to winning the CFL championship was years in the making for the Roughriders. The organization, including general manager Brendan Taman, had been working to put together a championship winning team since 2011, when it was announced that Saskatchewan would host the 101st Grey Cup.
Saskatchewan last won the cup in 2007. This was the first time the Riders have won the Grey Cup on their home turf.
It was also the last Grey Cup to be played at Mosaic Stadium, which will be replaced with a new facility in 2017.
The players were high-fiving and hugging fans, who stood shoulder to shoulder at the rally in temperatures that dipped into the minus teens.
But Regina resident Dean Dohms said he wouldn’t miss it. Dohms brought his two children to the parade and rally, saying he has “authorized the hooky (from school) today.”
“It’s just such an amazing thing that we feel they need to take part in the whole thing,” said Dohms.