I’d like to introduce a great new writer I found, in the process of personally venturing out to find someone, who was actually there, to document Nathan MacKinnon’s day with the Stanley Cup today in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her name is Ameeta Vohra. She is a freelance journalist from Halifax. Please follow her on Twitter @AmeetaVohra
By Ameeta Vohra
Halifax, Nova Scotia – On a hot, sunny summer Saturday in Halifax, I ventured down to the city’s downtown core to see our hometown hero, Nathan MacKinnon, hoist the Stanley Cup.
As I approached the intersection of Spring Garden and South Park Street around noon, I could already see that the burgundy, blue, black, and grey waves had taken over the city.
Halifax was ready to celebrate, and the atmosphere felt euphoric as people were beaming with pride from ear to ear. People from different walks of life and generations lined up in the streets wearing #29 jerseys, t-shirts and other Avalanche apparel. I spotted a couple of Cale Makar and Joe Sakic jerseys in the crowd.
On both sides of me, families with young children were awaiting the moment when Nate was going to come down the street. To my left, a young boy in an Avalanche jersey kept looking to make sure he didn’t miss his favorite player. He kept asking his parents how long it would be until Nate arrived. The parents were checking on their phones to get an update.
As the parade was inching closer and closer, people took their lawn chairs to the curb to secure their position while others were getting their phones and camera ready to capture the special moment. The screaming and cheering were getting louder, and so were the bagpipes and drums that were part of the parade procession.
At 12:37 p.m., the moment finally arrived. The police motorcades circled to stop cars from cutting into the parade route. Behind those police cars was the sea of a red marching band playing while the crown was getting into it, clapping, and dancing all around.
Then, roars and applause erupted as the crowd enjoyed a surprise. Nate’s teammates Gabriel Landeskog and Andrew Cogliano rode up the parade route in a wagon powered by a couple of horses and steered by a man in a cowboy hat. An elderly couple next to me screamed so loud that Cogliano did a stare back as a nod to the couple. It made the couple’s day. Landeskog and Cogliano soaked in the sights of the city while boasting huge smiles.
After the Halifax Mooseheads car passed by and the players handed out souvenirs, the crowd’s energy reached a fever pitch. Turning around the intersection was a red naval fire truck with a sharp, screeching alarm. There was no mistake about who was coming next, and children were jumping up and down while being giddy.
Nate went around the corner waving to people and then hoisting the Stanley Cup over his head, proud to bring it home. His parents and entourage were also on the truck and were happy to see people and waved.
To the right of me, a father was motioning at his young son, and I recall him saying, “this is going to be you one day.” It was a surreal moment.
It made sense to me at that moment why Nate chose Halifax instead of Cole Harbour to do his Stanley Cup Parade. Halifax has been a special spot for MacKinnon throughout his life. His mother worked for the city, and he led Mooseheads to the Memorial Cup championship at the Scotiabank Centre in 2013. He was bringing back the most outstanding championship trophies to the very spot where his career flourished. It was a full circle moment for the hometown hero.
While Sidney Crosby and Brad Marchand have held their parade processions after winning the Stanley Cup, this one was special for the city and the province. After restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic and other events we grieved in the past couple of years, this was the first joyous occasion we could celebrate something positive, and Nate brought a city together again.
Seeing families gather again, taking selfies of themselves while the parade was going on, cheering, applause and smiles demonstrated our city is alive and happy again. Nate made this happen, and I hope this is the start of many more Stanley Cup parades for him and this city.