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Plan the Parade

I have been accused of excess negativity about today's Vancouver Whitecaps playoff game. To make amends, here is my proposed MLS Cup parade route.

Google Maps, modified by Benjamin Massey

Obviously, when the Vancouver Whitecaps win the MLS Cup, we're going to need a decent parade route. When the previous incarnation of the Whitecaps won the 1979 NASL Soccer Bowl, 100,000 people lined the streets of Vancouver to welcome their conquering heroes[1] (and if that seems like too much of an exaggeration to you yes, there is video).

Vancouver loves victory parades. But when the BC Lions won last year's Grey Cup, they celebrated not with a parade but a "victory party" at BC Place[2]. People said that it was because of "weather" and "fun" and "it's a lot harder to riot inside a stadium", but standing outside cheering yourself hoarse in the rain is half the fun of a parade and, besides, we only riot when we lose.

It's time the Whitecaps turned that around, as they have turned around so much else. Here is my proposal for the Vancouver Whitecaps victory parade when we have won the MLS Cup (probably off an 86th-minute Russell Teibert olimpico corner kick).

  1. Begin at the Olympic Torch. The 2010 Vancouver Olympics symbolized much that makes this city great (community, excitement, spectacle, triumph, and beauty), and much that doesn't (not choking at hockey). The torch, which non-Vancouverites may be surprised to learn is still standing rather than being torn down instantly as the architectural monstrosity it is, is also a convenient public gathering place for parade-watchers and fans. Being right next to the seawall, it'll receive plenty of casual traffic as passers-by wonder what is going on. And it provides easy access to the streets of downtown Vancouver.

    Don't light the torch, though. Because this isn't the Olympics. Don't be tacky.

  2. Turn left onto Canada Place. The parade will pass in front of the Vancouver Convention Centre, where convention-goers will be able to gawk through the windows that line the length of the building, and both fans and tourists will be able to line up peaceably on the wide sidewalks. Traffic on this street can be surprisingly low mid-day, meaning a road closure isn't the end of the world. And those who find themselves tiring can refresh themselves at one of the nine thousand coffee shops along this street.

  3. Turn right onto Howe Street. Howe Street is a major thoroughfare and closing it for the duration of the parade would throw a monkey wrench into Vancouver's traffic route. But it's also extremely convenient for parade commuters, adjoining a Canada Line station and spitting distance from two Expo Line stations. It passes the Vancouver Art Gallery, which has vast lawns of wood chips and dead plants that would allow thousands to cheer their lungs out. It's also the only way to get onto Robson from the Olympic torch without either farting around on Cordova (turns on a parade route are death) or rampaging through the pedestrian-only portion of Robson.

  4. Turn left onto Robson Street. Robson Street will lead the parade straight onto Terry Fox Plaza, outside BC Place. With the street closed as a parade route, fans will line the pavement cheering their heroes into their home. Past Granville it will run with the traditional Vancouver Southsiders march to the match route, a nice piece of symbolic symmetry I know the Southsiders will appreciate. Those who fear the rain will be glad to know there are plenty of awnings along Robson, which will protect them from the elements and also prevent them from seeing most of the parade, as punishment for their wimpiness.

  5. Arrive at Terry Fox Plaza. As the vastness of BC Place looms up before them, Terry Fox Plaza will be an ideal spot for gatherings, food carts, and just generally cheering and whooping it up. The parade would end here, not that the celebration would have to.

    If you're feeling ambitious, the parade could loop back towards Cambie Street and from there Pacific Boulevard, proceeding from there into BC Place where it could proceed directly onto the field to the joy of whatever thousands of fans had gathered within. A parade and a party. Why not?

  6. [1] — Vancouver Whitecaps FC. "History." Accessed November 1, 2012.

    [2] — "BC Lions to be feted with party, not parade.", November 28, 2011. Accessed November 1, 2012.