I never thought that I would be in the downtown core of Canada’s largest city, on the very evening that our country accomplishes something absolutely magical, unforgettable, and unrepeatable. But on this spectacular night, I can’t think of a better place to be (oh, okay, maybe downtown Vancouver).
Through a series of circumstances, I found myself driving on Yonge St. on this evening, as the Canadian and American hockey teams headed into overtime in the gold-medal match. And all around me, I could feel that something special was about to take place. The excitement and sense of shared joy was palpable. The image of police officers crowded around a store window, staring at a tv screen along with dozens of other citizens, was amusing. The mass of fans gathered at Yonge and Dundas was energizing. And later, as I navigated downtown on foot, amidst the “Whoo”-ing crowds on the streets and the cruising cars with partyers leaning out of the sunroof, I had a sense that something almost dangerous could take place on this night of overwhelming ecstasy. (But it didn’t, of course; other than a few overturned newspaper boxes, nothing wild happened in this city of goodness.)
I’m glad that we won, for all the obvious reasons. But just as important, I wouldn’t have wanted to see our game result in a loss, purely because the vision of all those police cars, trucks, horses, and riot-ready officers tonight scared me. I lived through the Montreal Stanley Cup riots once, and certainly never want to see the likes of it again in my lifetime.
Tonight was splendid. As a famous Canadian rocker noted, “There will never be another tonight.” But oh, I hope that he’s wrong.