‘It’s a total grassroots thing’: Procession celebrates Canadian Olympians in Toronto
Toronto residents celebrated Canadian Olympic athletes on Sunday morning as a procession rolled through part of the east end.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said the city thanks the athletes for their inspiring performance at the Rio Olympic Games. The athletes in the procession included swimmers Penny Oleksiak and Michelle Williams.
“You are all heroes to us,” Tory told a cheering crowd in Kew Gardens. “I just want to be able to say how proud we are of you.”
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Tory declared September 7, 2016 to be Toronto Olympian and Para-Olympian Day as a city tribute to the country’s athletes.
Johanna Carlo, an organizer, said the procession gave local residents a chance to celebrate Team Canada athletes for their dedication and performance at the Rio Games.
“It’s a total grassroots thing,” Carlo said Sunday. “We have a lot of history in the east end of nurturing talent.”
Residents wore red and white, waved Canadian flags and held up homemade signs in support of the athletes.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne greeted the athletes in a private location before the procession got underway.
Organizers of the procession include the Danforth East Community Association, the Beach Village BIA board, Toronto councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, Toronto MPP Arthur Potts and Toronto MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith.
All Canadian Olympic athletes were invited to join the procession. Former Olympians also took part.
Oleksiak, 16, a student at Monarch Park Collegiate, won four medals at Rio.
The procession left East Lynn Park, proceeded along at Danforth Avenue to Woodbine Avenue, and travelled south on Woodbine Avenue to Queen Street East, along Queen Street. It ended at Kew Gardens Park.
Sgt. Marc Herman, of Toronto Police Service’s 55 Division, said no roads were closed for the procession but it was escorted by police.