December 10, 2019

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Hundred of Bombers faithful get taste of Grey Cup glory

Hundreds of fans lined up for a chance to have their picture taken with the Grey Cup, including Chloe Bailey, and her parents Jeffrey and Alayna. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Hundreds of fans lined up for a chance to have their picture taken with the Grey Cup, including Chloe Bailey, and her parents Jeffrey and Alayna. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)

The city's celebration of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers first Grey Cup win after a 29-year drought continued on Saturday, and this time the party was a fun-filled family event.

Following a parade on Tuesday and a social on Friday night, the third floor of the RBC Winnipeg Convention Centre was converted into a free Blue Bomber fan-friendly zone for hundreds of people who came to meet current and former football players, slide down a giant slide, see Buzz and Boomer, and — of course — get a photo taken with the Grey Cup.

Natalie Bargen and her 11-year-old son, Declan, came running into the room after driving in from Carman to find the lineup to see the Grey Cup had just closed, but after a quick conversation with a security guard, they became the last to get into line, 45 minutes before the end of the event.

"I told them I didn't come here from Carman to get in line to see the coach," she said. "I didn't come in to line up to see Buzz and Boomer.

"We only came here to see the Grey Cup, and it is just great to see it."

Hundreds of people turned out at Saturday's free family event at the RBC Convention Centre to celebrate the Bombers Grey Cup victory. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Hundreds of people turned out at Saturday's free family event at the RBC Convention Centre to celebrate the Bombers Grey Cup victory. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)

Declan said he was just glad to see the Bombers win.

"I kind of knew they were going to win," he said. When asked how he knew he added "I just knew."

At one end of the room, the chance to get a photo with the Grey Cup had a long line snaking back and forth. People were estimating it was about a 40-minute wait to get to the front.

Alain Cenerini and his 12-year-old son, Adriel, were thrilled they got a photo with the championship trophy.

"He has been a sports fan since he was young so this event is great for him," Cenerini said.

"This is a time to celebrate."

Winnipeg Blue Bomber alumni Chris Walby (left) and Stan Mikawos (right) sign autographs for fans Saturday at the convention centre. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Winnipeg Blue Bomber alumni Chris Walby (left) and Stan Mikawos (right) sign autographs for fans Saturday at the convention centre. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)

Adriel said he enjoyed the chance to celebrate the victory with hundreds of Winnipeggers.

"It is really time and all these people are supporting the Bombers. I'm a Bomber fan for life now."

At the opposite end of the room from the Grey Cup, current and former players were signing autographs, answering questions and getting photos taken.

"It's really awesome," linebacker Adam Bighill said about the event.

"We play, not only for ourselves, but for the fans. We play for everyone who bleeds blue and gold... it's just great to be able to share these moments with them and be able to come out and see the love and excitement and the joy that we are able to bring them."

Nearby, a player from another Bomber era who has two Grey Cup rings from 1988 and 1990, retired cornerback Rod Hill, said the appreciation from fans brought back memories of the support his teams received from Winnipeggers three decades ago.

Irene Linklater, a school teacher from Pukatawagan Sakaastew School, brought a picture of her students to be photographed with the Grey Cup. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Irene Linklater, a school teacher from Pukatawagan Sakaastew School, brought a picture of her students to be photographed with the Grey Cup. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)

"But I think this is even more fantastic for the fans because it has been so many years in between them," he said.

"They played well and they earned it, and the fans appreciate it, and it is good for the city, good for the community, and good for Manitoba."

In the lineup for the giant slide, seven-year-old Quinn Remillard, along with her sisters, six-year-old Kylyn, and five-year-old Paige, were sporting Bomber logos on their shirts and jumping up and down like they were having a sugar high instead of a Bomber high.

"This is good. I couldn't see them holding the cup, but now I can see the cup," Quinn said.

"I cheered — and then I had to go to bed," added Kylyn about last Sunday's game.

Their dad, Justin, said the Bomber event was a great way to continue instilling a love for the local football team with his three daughters.

The wait to get a photo with the Grey Cup was about 40 minutes. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

The wait to get a photo with the Grey Cup was about 40 minutes. (Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press)

"The excitement of a championship continues with excitement to be a fan, and letting them experience something like this, with the rest of the city, that is great," he said.

Out in the hallway, head coach Mike O'Shea had a continuous line in front of him with fans asking for autographs, photos and a chance to talk to him for a minute.

One young fan, two-month-old Carolina, won't remember meeting O'Shea, but she'll remember someday when she is shown the photo taken of her with the coach — and if the family keeps this article.

"She's only been waiting two months for the Bombers to win the Grey Cup, but we've been waiting a lot longer," said proud granddad Brian Goodman, holding a baby not much bigger than a football.

"This is so good. It's great to be able to interact with the players and the coach."

Goodman's daughter, and Carolina's aunt, Margaret, said she also has been a Bomber fan from a young age, while her mother, Pamela, said about the event, "I just love it," and about the win, "I think it's about time."

 

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason
Reporter

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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