The first half of the 2015 Pan Am Parapan Am Games are completed and despite the worries and concerns of many Toronto residents, it was a huge success from start to finish. Sure we had some things to adjust to like the new HOV lanes and rules; however, it really was not as big an issue as originally feared.
The residents of Toronto and southern Ontario rose to the challenges and jumped in with two feet embracing everything PanAm. From the thousands of volunteers to the spectators, businesses and our Canadian athletes, Panamania was everywhere and the entire GTA was alive with excitement and pride.
2015 Pan Am Games Baseball
My first event was a men’s baseball game, Canada versus the Dominican Republic, held at the Ajax Sportsplex. We had a smooth ride out from Toronto for our 7 p.m. start time; parking was conveniently right next to the diamonds and only cost $10 for the evening.
The walk from the parking lot to the seating was lined with happy volunteers guiding us along. It was a beautiful evening for an outdoor event and pretty much every seat had a good view of the game, team benches, warm up area and the sunset.
The crowd was energetic and diverse with groups cheering for both teams. In the end, Canada won with a final score of 4–1. Getting home was also quick and easy.
My next experience was heading down to our newly renovated Harbourfront area with a girlfriend. Once again, we found parking easily and at a very reasonable cost of $10 (at least for downtown Toronto area). There was so much to see and do. Music playing, dancing, vendors, restaurants, entertainers, activities for adults and children all amounted to a beautiful setting, with the majority of it free.
Cameras were going off all around, everyone trying to get that perfect selfie with a Pan Am symbol/ item or a shot of our CN Tower with its changing colours. It was nice to see so many people offering to take the photos for couples, groups and families.
My friend and I had a wonderful evening and thought the city did a great job with the Pan Am temporary popups and the beautification of much of the area.
After watching the opening ceremonies, I was so pumped to be a part of the excitement and show support for the athletes, I had to purchase tickets to the closing ceremonies set for July 26, 2015. We decided we’d go downtown early that day and check out Nathan Philips Square and the renowned “TORONTO” sign everyone was talking about, along with the great entertainment which had been happening every day and evening during the Pan Am games.
We were not disappointed, it was so enjoyable, the crowds, the food, the décor and of course, the entertainment. There were tons of photo opportunities. After a few hours, it was time to head to the Rogers Centre for the closing ceremonies. Since we had tickets for an event being held that day, we were able to hop onto the TTC for free. We jumped onto the subway and headed for Union Station.
2015 Pan Am Games Closing Ceremony
It was a wonderful scene seeing so many people young and old, walking over to the Rogers Centre to be a part of history and acknowledge our athletes’ accomplishments. Canada broke its previous record from 1999 earning a total of 217 medals: 78 gold, 69 silver and 70 bronze.
Outside the stadium stood the colourful sculpture holding the games flame, another popular selfie spot.
Let the show begin! From beginning to end it was a spectacular evening featuring thousands of cheering fans, hundreds of volunteers, hundreds of athletes from around the world, dance, music, colour, lights and even our Mayor Mr. John Tory. The mayor was very happy and proud of how well the two weeks went and how well the people of Toronto stepped up to show pride, support, courtesy and patience.
Serena Ryder performed many great songs along with the official Pan Am anthem she wrote, “Together We Are One”. Pitbull’s performance got everyone up dancing and to close the show, Kanye West dazzled the crowd with a stripped down performance, followed by fireworks off the mini CN Tower on the stage while showing the larger fireworks display on the screen from the actual CN Tower.
It was a little sad passing by the now doused flame outside signifying the end of this half. Let the Parapan Am Games begin!!