Fans cheer on Phillies at parade
Hundreds of thousands pack streets to celebrate Series champs
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
Hmm, can’t wait to see the rebroadcast of this on CW 57 on Sunday. It’s going to be worth it while waiting for the Eagles-Seahawks game to start. 🙂
It is the rough road that leads to the height of greatness.
PHILADELPHIA — Those words begin the highlight video that was played on the giant screen in left field at Citizens Bank Park before each game during the Phillies’ run to a World Series title, and on Friday, the road was an unbelievable parade route through town and the perfect ending to a perfect October.
Maybe you felt it at City Hall, where the world’s loudest parade took a right turn and there was a sea of red humanity in every direction.
Maybe it was the sign “SKIPPED SCHOOL ’08” held by boys who were like so many other youngsters on this day, here to see their heroes and decided not to be in classrooms. It made you wonder if anyone went to school Friday.
Maybe it was at Broad and Locust streets, where you first saw how deep they went, hundreds and hundreds of rows back, filling every nook and cranny, perched on roofs and packed tightly and clinging on tree branches.
Maybe it was the chants of “Stay, Pat, Stay!” and “Pat the Bat!” every time the Clydesdales passed fans wearing “BURRELL” and No. 5 on their backs. He was up front and up high next to the reins, hair slicked back with a black sweater and jeans and showered with love every inch of the route.
Maybe it was when the route bottlenecked at Broad and Bigler, with irrepressible crowds pushing right against the vehicles, as they cheered at Cole Hamels and Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley and Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino and all those people who had just touched their lives in a way no one ever imagined.
The parade finally happened in Philadelphia. They never have to wonder when the parade will come again, even though they look forward to more. This was a cathartic moment in America’s fifth-largest city, for roughly hundreds of thousands strong, the confirmation that what they just saw really happened, that the Phillies are 2008 World Series champions.
It began at 20th and Market streets, and it carried the players and team personnel to Citizens Bank Park, as well as Lincoln Financial Center. The players stopped first at the latter facility, where the Eagles play, and players like Victorino and Jamie Moyer showed them the Commissioner’s Trophy and spoke to the adoring crowd. Then it all went back to the “Bank” — the scene of the Wednesday clincher over Tampa Bay.
They needed to fill that venue as well, because there were simply too many Phillies fans for the number of seats. When tickets went on sale Thursday afternoon at Phillies.com for the concluding events, they vanished in an hour and a half. This is what everyone waited for, many for their whole lives.
“It’s amazing — better than Christmas,” said Annette Mira of South Philly, wearing a grass skirt and a lei and waiting for Victorino, the Flyin’ Hawaiian. “I am so happy. My father [Anthony] brought me here, and I saw him cry. It was a beautiful cry.”
“It’s been 25 years of waiting, and hopefully it won’t be another 25,” said Howard Sperling of Voorhees, N.J. “My kids stayed home from school. They should have just closed the schools today. You can see that they’re all here. I want to see Cole.”
Soon after he said that, Hamels passed by. Everyone had a favorite player to see. You realized as you walked along with this parade that it was not just any parade. Each winning city has done something superlative with its celebration, and it is hard to single one out. Every city probably thinks it just threw a parade like no one else.
This one’s pretty close, if you’ve been to a lot of them. The concentration of humanity was just beyond belief. The outpouring of glee, just indescribable. It had bottled up for so long. They partly released it on Wednesday night, when they all stayed around at the ballpark or spilled out onto the streets to party. But this was the moment. No place has been like Philly in terms of always talking about the “P word” — how it was often described by long-frustrated fans who were afraid that saying it would jinx it.
It has always been about the parade in Philly.
Now they have done it. It was beautiful.
It was loud. The consistency of the noise level from start to finish eclipsed almost anything you could ever imagine, any indoor venue.
“It’s not only a dream come true, but it’s all to see this city engulfed in community,” said David Rosenzweis of Philadelphia.
Ryan Leven, 15, of Doryleston, Pa., had been waiting five hours, hoping for that first glimpse of Hamels, the World Series MVP. Then it happened.
“I’m lucky enough I’m able to be here early,” Leven said, meaning “early” as in young age. “My hockey coaches and my baseball coaches always told me how long they had to wait. I hope they do it again now.”
One fan held up a sign that read: “PATrick or Treat.” The fan, Rachel Hezlep of Philadelphia, wore No. 5 and she swooned when the Clydesdales click-clacked past carrying Burrell, his wife and an English Bulldog.
“We tried to make up a Halloween theme sign,” she said. “I love him. He’s my favorite.”
“I broke both wrists clapping for the Phillies,” said one sign, held by a man with a red cast on each arm.
The Phillies are 2008 world champions. Hundreds of thousands of fans were able to complete the picture with a parade they needed a long time. (H/T Phillies.com)
Hopefully when can do this again next, unless one of the city’s other teams finally win it all. Hear that Eagles, Flyers, Sixers. It’s your turn to win one.