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Massive crowd engulfs downtown for Montreal Alouettes victory parade

MONTREAL - The celebration was typical Montreal.

MONTREAL - The celebration was typical Montreal.

Tens of thousands of people, dancing, singing what was actually a Spanish soccer song appropriated years ago as a hockey cheer at games of the city's beloved Canadiens.

And why was this sea of humanity singing a hockey song in Spanish?

Because they were at a victory parade for the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes.

Chants of, "Ole-Ole-Ole!" rang out as crowds engulfed the city's downtown core while Montrealers spent their lunch hour cheering on the Grey Cup champions.

The Alouettes have been a dominant force for years but had lost their last four Grey Cup appearances since winning in 2002.

They appeared set to lose again until a stunning string of events on Sunday's final play triggered a reversal of fortune with no time left on the clock.

People tossed confetti from windows onto the passing players, who pumped their fists skyward and waved at the crowd as the passed by on flat-bed trucks.

"It's truly amazing," said Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo.

"As many times as we've disappointed, the fans have been disappointed, they still come out here and respond by supporting us and coming to this parade."

As for the controversial final play of Sunday's game, which capped an improbable Alouettes comeback: "That's why you play 60 minutes. If you're going to beat yourself in your head than you have no chance - but we never gave up."

Louise Laroche, a season-ticket holder for the last five years, waved her arms and shouted as the parade rolled by.

Asked how nervous she was in the final seconds of the game, she said she nearly had a heart attack.

"In the Canadian Football League, it's not finished until zero-zero seconds," said Laroche, who drove about 65 kilometres from St-Hyacinthe for the parade.

"We have proof of that."

The team was also celebrated during a Canadiens-Tor NHL game Tuesday night by a chanting crowd at the Bell Centre, and signed the municipal registry at city hall.

One woman interviewed by a French all-news channel, summed up the sentiments of many in the hockey-mad city.

"We hope the Canadiens can do the same," she said.

Many Montrealers have noted the irony in recent days that their soccer and football teams are both champions this year but the team they love most - the one in the NHL - is highly mediocre.

A top Canadian on the Alouettes concurred with the obvious.

"It's definitely a hockey town," said Ben Cahoon, who was chosen as the Grey Cup's best Canadian player.

"Driving home in traffic the day after we won the Grey Cup and they're talking about hockey so we know where we rate, I think.

"But we sure appreciate the support today and we appreciate the support all season. This has been a magical memory for all of us."

He said players who'd never experienced a victory parade before were "blown away" by the event.

Police on horseback joined in the parade and so did the city's mayor, Gerald Tremblay, who sat atop an open convertible.

The mayor - whose administration has been rocked by a corruption scandal - was the only person booed Wednesday.

 
 
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