When the Eagles won the Super Bowl, there wasn’t a question as to whether or not we’d attend the parade. We went for the Phillies in 2008* and of course we’d go for the Eagles. After all, I’d married a devoted Philadelphia sports fan and we’d raised two sons who were also fans. The question was not if, but how. With millions of people expected, road closures planned, and limitations imposed on public transportation, my husband proposed a plan. He suggested that we ride bikes down to the Philadelphia Art Museum where the parade would end. Initially, I rejected his plan outright. I couldn’t imagine riding bikes in 31-degree weather over paths iced over by Wednesday’s heavy rains. But the more we discussed our options, the better the bike plan seemed to be.**
Before 9 a.m. on Thursday, we headed out. The whole way there, people walked in groups – all headed to the same place. As we rode by, groups erupted in cheers at the sight of my son and husband sporting their jerseys.*** After parking our bikes, we walked the rest of the way, working our way as close as we could get to the front where the speeches would take place. By 11:15 a.m., we were wedged shoulder-to-shoulder with more of my fellow Philadelphians than I’d ever seen. We had 2 hours before the parade would arrive. With nothing much happening and no space to move, the crowds chief source of excitement was the random dudes who would attempt to climb the few sycamores that lined the area where we stood.
Deciding that being in such tight quarters wasn’t worth being up close, we tried to leave. But that was easier said than done, as the crowd pressed close and didn’t want to give way. Finally, we got out, regrouped at a coffee shop and returned to a different location. By this point, it was 12:40. Music blared from speakers. People danced and partied all around us. We found our nephew and his wife and hung with them. The electric slide came on and I danced with a group of strangers. The theme to Prince of Bel Air played and everyone sang along.
Then the parade arrived. Bus after bus of cheerleaders, front office personnel and players. We cheered for them and they cheered back. The crowd was dancing and so were the football players. One guy next to me snapped photos with his phone, telling me how lucky he felt to be there.
After the parade passed by, we walked back to the boathouse to watch the speeches. The boathouse was packed and – as if we were all still outside watching it live – we cheered and clapped at the TV. And when the Eagles theme song came on, you better believe we sang at the top of our lungs.****
On the bike ride back, the crowd was quieter. Even so, as we rode by a large group, they cheered at our jerseys and we cheered back. Maybe Philadelphians don’t always live up to the city’s motto, but yesterday, Philadelphia was indeed the City of Brotherly Love.
*Our boys were 8 and 11 in 2008 and when I tell you we walked miles, I mean miles.
**Riding bikes turned out to be brilliant.
***I was sporting Dawkins #20, but it was under my parka
****Jason Kelce’s passionate speech in his Mummers regalia was the obvious highlight, despite being bleeped for a full minute or more