Friday, July 9, 2010

Culture: World Cup Celebration, 2006

College Street in Toronto's Little Italy was packed with people after Italy won the World Cup on 9-July-2006

TORONTO, ONTARIO - With the final two matches of the FIFA World Cup set for this weekend, it seems an appropriate time to look back to four years ago today, when Italy defeated France to win the 2006 World Cup held in Germany. I had recently moved to Toronto at the time, just in time to really experience the World Cup. My first residence was in the Little Italy neighbourhood, so I had become a fan as Italy advanced through the tournament. While I had chosen to watch the final match at an Italian restaurant closer to my present residence in the Kingsway area, after Italy had won, I knew I had to head for my old neighbourhood to join the celebration.

Even the chihuahuas wore the jerseys of Team Italia on the day of the World Cup final (9-July-2006) in Toronto's Little Italy

Approaching from the east at Bathurst Street, traffic was still moving on both College and Bathurst, and there were plenty of vehicles decorated with the Italian flag cruising the streets in celebration. The police had already closed College west of Bathurst by the time I arrived, and walking west into the heart of the neighbourhood, the crowds steadily grew.

A replica of the World Cup was making only very slow progress down College Street toward the celebration as it stopped to allow people to pose with it on 9-July-2006

In what can only be described as a Toronto moment, I soon passed an older Chinese man towing a replica of the World Cup (not the only one seen this day) on a wagon toward the celebration. He made only very slow progress, as people were constantly asking to pose with his artwork. When asked why he was such a fan of Italy, he just stated, "Chinese love Italians!" On this day, everyone loved Italians.

The CHIN building in the middle of Little Italy was decorated with probably the largest Italian flag on the day Italy won the World Cup, 9-July-2006

By the time I reached College and Clinton, the corner withe Cafe Diplomatico, the restaurant where I had eaten my first meal after moving to Toronto, it was difficult to move. The streets were packed with people in Italy's blue jerseys or wrapped in the green, white and red of the Italian flag. In classic Toronto fashion, there was no incipient crime, just a group of very happy people on the streets.

The intersection of College Street and Clinton Street in the heart of Little Italy was ground zero for celebrations in Toronto, Ontario after Italy won the World Cup on 9-July-2006

I stayed for probably only half an hour, having to go to work the next day. The celebration would go on for hours; the police did not even try to re-open College Street until late that night. Furthermore, Little Italy wasn't the only place for celebration--Toronto has multiple Italian areas. By all accounts, the Corso Italia was even more packed on St. Clair Avenue, and the party there went on even longer. It was truly a happy day and a popular 2006 World Cup victory in the multi-cultural city of Toronto.

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