We arrived in Vancouver on Friday morning, a day later than expected, but ready to take on the city. We got as far as the first stop on the subway before we realized what our day was going to consist of — Hockey.A man in his 20s obviously hopped up on some mind-altering substance charges onto the train and directly into the conversation of two men. He runs over the conversation with talk of the Canucks and the Stanley Cup Finals. Details of player’s numbers, where they last played, and other things that no one cares about came spewing out of his mouth. All I cared about was where he said that he was going to watch the game — right outside the arena. The city sets up huge TV screens for free for fans to watch the game in the street. Bingo. Free, outside, and surrounded by tons of fans. We’re in.
As we set out to go watch the game as the locals do, it was easy to find our way. Around the Granville Street area all the streets were closed down and the crowds were funneling in one direction.We walk up and see people everywhere. Literally everywhere. Sitting in the street, standing on the curb, on top of things, around the trees lining the street, on the rooftops, sitting on door thresholds. There wasn’t a space to fill. The street lost its shape and became one mass of people.
As we inched our way bit by bit, further and further into the crowd, trying to find a sliver of space for us to stand and watch the game, we realized people were facing a different direction at some point. There were two screens!
We eventually found a cozy little spot, up on the curb, a bit above the crowd at street-level. I could peer just over the shoulders of a man and his wife, perfectly placed between a tree and some other taller people ahead. Any movement of said people and my view was obstructed. When I had a clear view, it was great, and with a fitting Canadian flag flying high, flapping in the wind, just to the left of the big screen. Van City was out in full force to support their team.
After a long scoreless game, the Canucks finally score a goal. The crowd erupts and the pulsating energy of the people take over the streets. I watched a large man as he rolled up his jersey sleeve, turned to his friend and pointed to his forearm and said, “goosebumps.” These Canucks fans don’t mess around. Boston doesn’t return the goal, and the Canucks win!
The streets are filled with chants of “We want the cup!”, horns honking and overall cheering. Everyone seems to be one, but when you really look, there are lots of individuals with jerseys, scarves, their faces painted half green, face paintings of the Canucks logo, colored mohawks. And the props! There were lots of hockey sticks, some with Canucks flags strung from them, another with a Bruins bear with his eyes X’d out. Lots of mock Stanley Cups were floating around the crowd, some inflatable, others hard plastic figures covered in tin foil.
We couldn’t walk two steps without giving a high-five. The screams and cheering were endless. Then, we turned a corner and there was music. Everyone was dancing, people started running toward the music. There were fans on each other’s shoulders, in the trees, standing on road barriers. People everywhere.
We could hear the cheers from our hotel room until 5 a.m.
And this was all just for a playoff win, they hadn’t even won the title..