What a night, Toronto!
The 2015 Parapan Am Games and Panamania came to a close on Saturday night at Nathan Phillips Square, after eight days of inspiring sports competition. Thousands filled the square with incredible energy to celebrate the largest Parapan Am Games in history, with 1,600 athletes from 28 countries.
Toronto singer and songwriter Sean Jones opened the ceremony with a stunning rendition of "O Canada."
The crowd then danced and clapped along as Franco-Ontarian urban folk band SWING performed an energetic tribute to the athletes.
The performance was so catchy, in fact, that the athletes couldn’t resist breaking out into a conga line.
Rugby star Zak Madell proudly carried the maple leaf for Team Canada, as flagbearers from each country bid a final farewell in the Parade of Nations. The 21-year-old wheelchair rugby player from Okotoks, Alta., led the Canadian team to a gold-medal victory over the United States on Friday, securing them a spot in the Rio Paralympics next summer.
Toronto2015 CEO Saad Rafi called the Games the "largest, loudest and best Parapan Am Games ever."
"In the past week, we've seen athletes from across the Americas demonstrate incredible courage, strength and athleticism, thrilling and inspiring fans," he said. "Tonight is about celebrating and thanking these athletes, as well as the people of the region who supported these Games, which will leave a legacy of not only sport, but diversity and inclusion, which will be felt for generations to come."
He also thanked the volunteers, who brought their "personality and energy."
Jose Luis Campo, president of the Americas Paralympic Committee, echoed Rafi’s sentiments. "You have raised the bar for future organizers, and I have to say these have been the best Parapan American Games ever," he said.
To the athletes, Campo added: "You have entertained us with your high level performances, and shown that life is about maximizing ability and not perceived disability," he said.
The Americas Paralympic Committee flag was then lowered, and Toronto Mayor John Tory passed it over to Luis Castañeda Lossio, mayor of Lima, Peru, the host city of the 2019 event.
Spoken word artist Mustafa the Poet extinguished the Parapan Am flame with a powerful poem, officially bringing the Games to a close.
Later in the evening, Meghan Patrick, an up-and-coming country singer from Bowmanville, Ont. took the stage and pumped up the crowd before being followed by Grammy award-winning superstar, Wyclef Jean.
Jean returned to Nathan Phillips Square after opening Panamania last month. He got the crowd dancing, jumping and singing along to hits including Bob Marley's classic "No Woman, No Cry," Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie," and his own "Sweetest Girl."
The ceremony finished with a bang as fireworks lit up the square over Toronto City Hall. As the crowd oohed and aahed, Serena Ryder's "Together We Are One" played in the background, the official song of the Toronto 2015 Pan/Para Am Games.
A big congratulations to all of the athletes, and of course, to Toronto for hosting a memorable Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.
What was your favourite moment from the Parapan American Games? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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