Sunday, July 11, 2010

Culture: World Cup Celebration, 2010

Spanish fans began their celebration at John and Wellington Street as a big-screen television showed their team reacting to their win in the FIFA World Cup on 11-July-2010

TORONTO, ONTARIO - As the FIFA World Cup Final moved to extra time today, I found my way to the outdoor viewing area the CBC had set up outside their headquarters at John and Wellington Streets here in Toronto. The crowd was well-mixed, though the Spanish fans seemed to be just a bit louder than the Dutch. A group of friends with one very clear fan of The Netherlands stood in front of me. A Canadian moment occurred when Spain scored what would prove to be the only goal of the match. One of her friends leaned over to her and said, "I'm sorry."

A group of Spanish fans walked Spadina Avenue in Toronto, Ontario after Spain's World Cup victory, chanting "España, España, whoo whoo whoo" on 11-July-2010

When Spain held on for the victory, the obvious thing to do was to walk over to College and Bathurst Streets where the main Spanish celebrations had occurred as the team had advanced in the World Cup. Within minutes, cars with sunroofs were already noted flying the Spanish flag in the streets. As I turned up Spadina Avenue, I walked for a time behind what appeared to be a Spanish family who chanted "España, España, whoo whoo whoo" and broke out into continuous cheering whenever a vehicle adorned with the Spanish flag passed by.

In what will likely be the iconic image from Spain's World Cup victory for Torontonians, fans danced on top of a TTC streetcar on College Street near Bathurst on 11-July-2010

Sure enough, by the time I reached College and Bathurst, abut the closest thing to a riot that ever occurs in Toronto was in progress. People adorned with Spanish flags were dancing on top of a TTC streetcar, on top of transit shelters, and on top of buildings. Besides flying yellow and red flags, fans blew into vuvuzelas, the controversial background horn of this World Cup. Like all World Cup celebrations here, it was all just good fun and peaceful. People dressed in the Dutch orange colors wandered past the heart of the Spanish celebration without incident. The worst damage appeared to be windshields that cracked when people slipped reaching the roofs of vehicles.

A Spanish fan blew into a vuvzela--the horn which may be the symbol of this World Cup--as he approached the heart of the celebration on 11-July-2010

For the second straight World Cup, my favorite moment in the aftermath of the final match came from a man of Chinese descent. While following the Spanish flags down Spadina Avenue through Chinatown, we came upon a Chinese man selling vegetables along the street. He had a stern look on his face, and seemed nonplussed as group approached. After the "España, España, whoo whoo whoo" chant, though, he vocalized a long, powerful "whooooo!" (probably the loudest noise I heard this day that didn't come from a vuvuzela) and smiled. He had the World Cup spirit after all.

The lineup of cars, many of them sporting Spanish flags, along College Street stretched as far as the eye could see near Ossington Avenue during the World Cup celebrations on 11-July-2010

As I walked home from the heart of the Spanish World Cup victory celebration, traffic--much of it consisting of vehicles with Spanish flags--backed up on College Street from where police had closed it at Grace Street all the way past Dovercourt, a distance of about a kilometer. This part of Toronto was coming to a halt, but considering that the World Cup final comes just once every four years, how could it not? "España, España, whoo whoo whoo!"

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