EDITORIAL: Oh, how far we’ve come

We’ve come a long way, baby.

The huge crowds that have gathered at downtown viewing sites to watch the Vancouver Canucks’ drive to win their first Stanley Cup have been celebratory and well-behaved. No matter that they’re crammed onto narrow city blocks straining to see what they can on distant big screen monitors.

The surrounding municipalities have also jumped on board, multiplying the sites as the series moved to Boston for games three and four. Surrey, Burnaby, Abbotsford and Richmond all set up big screens for large gatherings of fans to soak in the Stanley Cup vibe.

It’s human nature to share the company of others at monumental occasions, be they happy ones, like a victory in the Stanley Cup or the arrival of a new year; or tragic, like the 9-11 terror attacks or the assassination of a beloved world leader.

Most world-class cities have some sort of easily accessible location to host huge gatherings of people: New York has Central Park; Paris has the Champs de Mars below the Eiffel Tower, London has Hyde Park, Berlin has the wide boulevards and parks around the Brandenburg Gate.

Limited space and short-sighted urban design have left Vancouver without such a venue. That absence was a contributing factor to the 1994 Stanley Cup riot, when post-game crowds ran amok downtown because they had no place to go, and the ensuing chaos left a black mark on the city’s reputation.

But the lessons learned from that experience were put to good use during the 2010 Winter Olympics, when organizers created satellite gathering sites to serve the crowds seeking some Olympic buzz. It worked. A good time was had by all.

That spirit has fueled the Stanley Cup street party, and was only slightly (and temporarily, we trust) dampened after the Bruins’ 8-1 drubbing of the Canucks on Monday night.

The addition of suburban sites has spread the party atmosphere around the Metro Vancouver region.

The lack of stories on the nightly news about stabbings and liquor seizures at these sites are testimony to how well they’ve been managed and how far the region has really come since ’94.

And if the home team can hold up its end of the bargain, there might be a whole lot more worth celebrating in the next few days.

– Burnaby News-Leader


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