Cup Craziness on 17th Avenue

In describing the scene following Saturday night's Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals featuring Calgary against Tampa Bay, one might use the term "gong show ". A crowd nearing 50,000 (rumored estimate) packed the streets (or rather, avenue,) of 17th to yell, shout, scream and otherwise celebrate (involving alcohol and other various substances,) the Flames' most recent victory.

Ringing bells - and ears

Andrew and Mike watch the game at a Boston Pizza on 17th and 10th.

I'm one of those kind of people who watches hockey during April through June, and that's usually about it. This year has been different than others though in that the local guys are doing really well, so I'm kind of getting caught up on it all. If for no other reason, it was about bloody well time I learned what really constitutes the "icing" and "off-side" calls in play anyways.

It didn't take much time sitting at the capacity-filled Boston Pizza on 17th and 10th while watching the game to realise how excited this city is about hockey. I found my ears ringing early on when the volume level spiked - when they turned the big-screen to the right channel. I wasn't paying attention, and started looking to the other TV's for the replay of the goal that had apparently just been scored!

Countless "Go Flames, Go!" and other chants and jeers later, people literally spilled onto the streets (not unlike many drinks) looking for "the next big thing," that of course being 17th Avenue itself.

The Red Mile Gong Show

A crowd on 17th Avenue minutes after the Flames beat Tampa Bay in Game three of the Finals. The score: 3-0.

Thousands of people managed to squeeze onto 17th Avenue shortly after the game ended. Many were dressed in the Flames color of Red, hence the "Red Sea" and "Red Mile" references. It was interesting being in a large crowd, and definitely would not be an opportune time to realize one's own claustrophobic tendencies. The crowd moved in waves; at times it was like being stuck in a current. In some places people were effectively gridlocked, and in others you had no choice but to slowly (and with much pressure on all sides) move slowly down the street - hoping not to fall or push too hard on anyone around you, the latter being nearly impossible. After getting stuck in a busy area at one point, it took me a good five minutes to move fifty feet and get out of the congestion.

The police were out in good numbers as well, keeping an eye on the goings-on and maintaining the peace. Not that there was reason to fight.. I'd imagine there weren't many Tampa Bay fans in the area. I saw a few dumpings of alcohol and various other things being thrown away (not voluntarily, I might add,) people stumbling in and out of bushes, trees and other areas. All in all it was indeed a gong show, but good times for all.

I must have high-fived several hundred people walking down the street, not including the cars I later did the same to while running down the middle of 17th avenue itself. There was an unbelievable amount of energy in the air; the combined sound of car horns, people yelling, cheering and hollering, horns and other noise-makers going off was an enjoyable aural assault, and a well-needed break from the peace this city seems to usually rest in. Car horns and yelling continued to be heard on the way home, and later on at night sounds could still be heard from cars going down Memorial Drive. I arguably left a bit early, before 17th turned into a "Girls Gone Wild"-style breast-faring extravaganza (Out of respect for good taste, no link - I leave it to the resourceful to hunt down the relevant URL.)

It's good to see people get excited about things; one amusing thing I find in this is that when the finals are over and the cup has gone somewhere for a year, that is the end of the story. Is it possible that a city that gets this involved in a sport could also get involved in other important public things that affect their lives in some way? I think we have one of those election things coming up.. Better get out and vote. Come to think of it, there's another big event I need to start learning things about.

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