Thousands of fully vaccinated fans cheer for the Blue Bombers at the home opener

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are back in their hometown, and for the 30,000 fully vaccinated fans who welcomed them back to the field—it was a moment nearly two years in the making.

The Bombers kicked off against the Hamilton Ti-Cats Thursday night at IG Field in Winnipeg—the first CFL action the city has seen since the two teams fought for the Grey Cup in November 2019.

For many fans, the return of the Bombers to their home field was an emotional moment.

Rebecca Rider-Hepner was the first in line at her gate, eager to get into the stadium.

“It’s a mixture of emotions, I feel like I am going to burst into tears,” she said, adding she has been going to games since she was five years old.

That tradition was interrupted with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a part of me that got taken away from COVID,” she said. “Just to be here, I feel like I’m at home finally.”

Bombers' fans waiting to get into IG Field for the first game of the 2021 season. Aug. 5, 2021. (Source: Danton Unger/CTV News)

“It’s surreal, I probably will cry,” said Vanya Reimer, who was among the first fans at the stadium—decked out in a blue jumpsuit and gold wig.

“I’ve been going to Bomber games since I think I was three. I’m part of the fan base that just bleeds blue and gold, so I’m just pumped to be back and ready to cheer them on.”

This is among the first large-scale sporting events in the province since the pandemic. Around 30,000 fully vaccinated fans were expected to attend the game.

Long lines of fans waiting to get into IG Field for the first Winnipeg Blue Bombers' game in nearly two years. Aug. 5, 2021. (Source: Danton Unger/CTV News)

Those attending had to show their immunization card and photo ID to get in.

For Bombers’ fan Judy, who was one of the health-care professionals involved in handing out thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses to Manitobans

to be at the game Thursday night was a welcome moment after the work she put into the vaccine rollout.

“It was fabulous, it was great to see everybody step up and get their vaccines and I’m just hoping that more people do,” Judy said.

Bombers fans Nellie and Cherrille were both at the Blue Bombers championship game against the Ti-Cats in Calgary in November 2019.

“To come back and see the rematch, we are both just very excited,” Nellie said.

“We think it is going to be just as good,” Cherrille said.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers' fans walking toward IG Field for the first CFL game in nearly two years. Aug. 5, 2021. (Source: Danton Unger/CTV News)

And after a nearly two-year wait, Bombers finally got to see the championship banner unveiled.

“This is an amazing feeling to be honest with you, being here at the home opener and being able to see them raise their banner—it is an amazing feeling,” said Alvin, a Bombers’ fan while waiting in line to get into IG Field.

RAISING OF MÉTIS AND TREATY ONE FLAG, A PROUD MOMENT

Along with the unveiling of the 2019 Grey Cup championship banner, the Bombers also raised the Métis flag and the Treaty One flag for the first time.

For Richard Genaille, the minister of sport and youth with the Manitoba Métis Federation—it was a proud moment.

“Right here where we are standing—this is the heart land of the Métis nation,” Genaille told CTV News.

“Finally we’re going to have partnership with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and our flag is going to be flying high above IG Field.”

Genaille said he hopes fans who see the flag take the time to learn about the Métis nation.