MONTREAL — Some dreary November weather didn't stop Montreal Alouettes fans from turning up in numbers at the Grey Cup championship parade on Wednesday.
Fans lined the streets of De Maisonneuve Boulevard, filled "Quartier des Spectacles" and waved their Quebec flags in downtown Montreal to celebrate the first Alouettes title since 2010, and the eighth in franchise history.
Montreal upset the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 28-24 in the 110th Grey Cup at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton.
The weather in Montreal hovered around two degrees Celsius and reached a high of four as light rain fell on and off throughout the overcast afternoon.
Quarterback Cody Fajardo, who was named Grey Cup MVP, said the subpar weather was fitting after multiple games in Montreal were delayed due to Mother Nature.
"There's been some weather delays and our fans stuck through it,” said Fajardo after the parade. “The weather wasn't very great today in the parade, but they showed out.
“I had no idea how great it was going to be and then I went to it, and experienced it, and I'll remember that for the rest of my life."
Fajardo threw 290 passing yards and completed a game-winning drive in the final minute with his third touchdown pass of the game to lead the Alouettes to a title.
The fans made sure to give their quarterback some love by chanting “M-V-P!” throughout the afternoon.
"The MVP chants are pretty high on my list (of things I’ll remember),” said Fajardo. “I got a couple of videos on my phone of people chanting MVP, and it's something that nobody will ever be able to take away from me — we're Grey Cup champs and the Grey Cup is back home where it belongs.”
It wasn’t the first rodeo for veteran defensive lineman Shawn Lemon, who won Grey Cups with the Calgary Stampeders in 2014 and the Toronto Argonauts in 2017.
The 35-year-old says neither lived up to what he witnessed on Wednesday.
"That was amazing," said Lemon. "I've never seen nothing like this, it's my third championship, I lost my voice already. I've never seen a parade and everything like that. The city of Montreal did it great by us."
Owner Pierre Karl Péladeau, a Québécois billionaire who has stayed relatively outside the public eye since buying the team in March, made an appearance on stage at Le Parterre, a public square in the “Quartier des Spectacle” and led some “Olé, Olé, Olé” chants.
The Alouettes started free agency in February without an owner and lost several key players, leading many pundits to rank the team near the bottom of the league before the season began.
They defied expectations in the regular season by going 11-7 before defeating Hamilton, defending Grey Cup winners Toronto and perennial contender Winnipeg in the playoffs en route to the title.
“Hey! Montreal! Not bad for a team that was ranked ninth by the experts!” Alouettes general manager Danny Maciocia yelled from the stage.
Multiple homegrown Alouettes players said they didn’t attend the last championship parade in 2010 because school was in session.
Wednesday’s attendance received a boost due to a provincewide public sector strike keeping schools closed between Tuesday and Thursday.
Longtime Alouettes season-ticket holder Sebastien Dreyfuss attended the parade with his Grade school-aged son, Florian, and his friend, Emilian.
Under other circumstances, that wouldn’t have been the case.
“School is more important than the Alouettes,” said Dreyfuss.
Both kids said they were happy with the way things worked out.
“I think it helped,” said Alouettes kicker David Cote of Quebec City. “So much the better that there were more kids, we’re kind of role models for them, and if we can influence more kids to want to play football and come see us play, then we’ve done our job.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 22, 2023.