Air force chopper brings the Grey Cup to Hamilton ahead of CFL final

December 7, 2021
Air force chopper brings the Grey Cup to Hamilton ahead of CFL final
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Jeff Kawamoto said Tuesday felt like 1972.

That was the last time the Hamilton Tiger-Cats played for the Canadian Football League’s (CFL) Grey Cup at home.

“I know it’s been battered and broken and fixed, and I think it’s beautiful,” the 60-year-old said.

Forty-nine years later, he stood among a crowd of at least 100 and marvelled as two Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CH-146 Griffon helicopters descended upon a snowy Bayfront Park and delivered the CFL’s prized possession ahead of the championship game Sunday.

Hamilton isn’t isn’t just hosting the big game — the Tiger-Cats will also play in front of the home crowd at Tim Hortons Field. They’ll face the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who beat them in 2019. It’s the last year the Grey Cup happened because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of two Royal Canadian Air Force CH-146 Griffon helicopters descends in Hamilton on Tuesday with the Canadian Football League’s prized possession — the Grey Cup. The Tiger-Cats will face the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL championship game Sunday. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Members of the Royal Canadian Air Force carry the Grey Cup in Bayfront Park. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Two RCAF members, wearing black helmets, carried the shiny silver trophy to a podium for all to see.

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said getting the Cup to Hamilton, after being unable to hold a championship game last year amid the pandemic, was a testament to everyone’s resilience.

“It may be almost perfectly fitting to be in Hamilton for this Grey Cup, for all this city stands for,” he said.

“There’s a little rumour out there we may be back for 2023.”

Leroy Hill, a traditional Haudenosaunee leader, addressed Ticat fans in Hamilton on Tuesday. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Tiger-Cats caretaker Bob Young was literally jumping with joy standing next to the Grey Cup on Tuesday as fans cheered him on. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

He commended the work of Ticats caretaker Bob Young and the rest of the staff for building the team into a championship contender.

He also said kind words about late Ticats legend Angelo Mosca.

“Who you’re seeing today is 12-year-old Bob Young,” he said, literally jumping with joy while standing next to the cup.

“How much better does it get for a community, for a league, for our players than to play at home in the Grey Cup?”

Haudenosaunee leader Leroy Hill, Mayor Fred Eisenberger and former Ticat Andy Fantuz also addressed the crowd, expressing excitement about the Grey Cup game.

Cory and Jeff Kawamoto said they would be at the Grey Cup game on Sunday and want to see the Ticats win. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Lexis, Chantal and Lauren Johnson said they were excited to see the Grey Cup in Hamilton. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Lauren Johnson, 15, said she’ll be at the final with her younger sister Lexis and their mother Chantal.

“It’s amazing to see the whole community come together for something,” Lauren said.

She said she and her sister and mother are all watching for one thing on Sunday: “A Ticat victory.”

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