My Day On Broad Street: Remembering The Eagles’ Super Bowl Victory Parade.
Written By Scott McGinnis for Goombay Tally | Goombay Tally | www.goombaytally.com | Please contact [email protected] for feedback, content or advertisement requests | Philadelphia Eagles
As we count down the clock to 40-something days left until the start of the 2018-19 NFL season, I thought I would slow things down a little and ceremoniously savor the experience that myself and millions of other Philadelphia Eagles fans were blessed with in February.
In a little over a month, newly rebuilt, resupplied, and hungry NFL teams will be gunning for the Eagles like an avid hunter on Safari in Western Africa.
For Philadelphia Eagles fans, last season was obviously a dream come true … finally a heavenly prayer, gloriously answered for a City that’s been void of a Super Bowl Championship for its franchise history.
We’ve all witnessed the suffering, the heartache, the taunts from evil Dallas Cowboys fans … all came to a crashing halt, mere seconds after Tom Brady’s final Hail Mary pass bounced harmlessly into the end zone. An entire City exhaled with relief.
At that moment, most of us were in various stages of shock — jumping around in the middle of the street, in the sports bars, or in our living rooms as the game clock flashed “00:00.”
Yes … perpetually frustrated Eagles fans have cried, lived, and died … never to see a Super Bowl victory parade on Broad Street; never witnessing the pride and thrill of seeing their beloved team slowly ride through hysterical (incredibly drunk) crowds … holding up the coveted Lombardi Trophy.
Yes, like thousands of Eagles fans across the world, I still secretly pull out my iPhone at work just to watch a clip of the “Philly Special” one more time, before getting back to more spreadsheets and answering inconsequential emails from Human Relations and Operations.
So, I don’t live in Philadelphia anymore.
My family moved from our quaint, but noticeably rundown rowhouse in North Philadelphia, on Columbia Avenue (now Cecil B. Moore Avenue) back in the ’70s. I thought it important to relay that to you even though you probably could care less.
My Journey Back to Philly Begins.
My “mecca” journey back to Philadelphia, PA started around 3:30 A.M. on February 8, 2018. I can remember my alarm going off. My wife slept straight through it and didn’t as much flinch.
Russia could essentially volley an ICBM straight into Main Street, and my wife would snore through it. Giants fan, sheez, I said to myself as I glanced over at her. Sleeping Giants, more like it. Caveat: My wife was born in New Jersey and to family of lifelong Giants fans.
I walked over and peered out the window and into the back yard. The ducts on the side of the house were blasting out steam into the frigid 20 degree North Maryland air like a steam engine racing toward Baltimore in the middle of the night.
Today is gonna be epic, I thought to myself. But unfortunately, that day would also be as cold as penguin snot.
But that didn’t matter.
Philly has been waiting a long time for this day right? I was gonna hit I-95 like thousands (maybe millions) of other fans and watch that trophy glide down Broad Street. Cold weather or not.
Now, I may not live in Philly, but you bet your last Benjamin Franklin sitting in your wallet that I remember that parking in the City on a normal day is frustrating and soul-snatching enough. If you don’t believe me, find that old A&E series, “Parking Wars” on You Tube. Yep, they wrote an entire reality T.V. show about the “lovely” Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA).
Anyway, after matriculating my way to I-95 at approximately 5:30 A.M., my eyes felt heavy from only getting about three hours of sleep that night. I needed coffee soon. If I didn’t get coffee quickly, I swear I’ll need to pull over at the Chesapeake House service area for some of the strongest … nastiest black brew they had percolating.
So I did just that.
The steam from the hot coffee cup rose, then dissipated in the early morning air. The trip continues.
The closer I got to the city, I tuned into the local radio stations as the parade day preparation entered its final hours. You can feel the excitement in their voices … there was electric in the air. A feeling that hasn’t been in the city for years.
I think I heard Kevin Hart giving comical commentary on one of the radio stations.
I like Kevin Hart. Anyone who can make a complete fool of himself on live television during the Eagles’ Lombardi Trophy presentation following the game — shake it off, and joke about it in a hilarious, self-deprecating way on the late night television shows the following week … is O.K. in my book.
Oh, by the way, Good Lord … did I mention; it was still cold as snot in Philly that day.
Soon, the volume of traffic on I-95 began to increase as I crossed the Pennsylvania borderline. I also began to see more Eagles bumper stickers, flags, window stickers, helmets, drivers and passengers wearing Eagles jerseys, and so on.
Yep, I was home.
Gold, Unicorns, and Legal Parking Spots.
Now, my original “parking plan” was to find a parking spot at Lincoln Financial Field (or The Linc) and catch the parade as it left the stadium. But as every parade-attending Eagles fan knows, Lincoln Financial Field parking was shut down that day so I continued to drive past the exit.
Soon, I saw the exit for Broad Street and figured that the Philadelphia Police Department probably had it shut down by now as well. But I ignored my better instincts and took a gamble. I exited.
To my surprise, Broad Street was still open. But barely. I quickly noticed that the barricades were closing down behind me, like Harrison Ford running thorough the Temple of Doom. In fact, I was one of the few vehicles on Broad that the Police allowed through before total shutdown.
Crowds of midnight green jerseys started lining the route three hours before the parade would begin. I sort of became part of the pre-parade entertainment I guess. Fans pumped their arms, signaling drivers to blow their horns.
I obliged. They cheered. Being back in Philly was great.
Soon, my Dodge Ram 1500 truck traveled as far as the Philly PD would allow me and a few other vehicles to go and we were forced to take a side street as I got closer to City Hall. That’s when the next adventure began.
What idiot would drive a huge Dodge Ram 1500 into Philly on a day when parking is not only at a premium … but nearly impossible to find anyway?
Well … umm … this idiot does. Or did.
Yes … it took me nearly 40 minutes to find a parking spot. In fact, it wasn’t a “parking spot” per se. I finally drove past an elementary school playground area about three blocks away from Broad Street, with the fence left open and roughly a dozen other vehicles parked on the basketball court.
Seems legit, I thought to myself facetiously.
I entered the school yard and pulled up next to some fans who were just getting out of their vehicle.
“Can we park here my man?” I said to one of the fans (already knowing the answer).
“Bruh … I will give you permission to park here,” the guy said jokingly.
We all laughed histarically. This random Philly fan that I just met (and was already visibly drunk at 8:30 AM) gave me permission to park on this outdoor elementary school basketball court.
After labyrinth-style driving in Philly for half an hour, that’s all I needed to know.
But seriously, big kudos to the Philly PD for their unprecedented levity and understanding on Super Bowl parade day. For a city that’s notorious for its draconian parking law enforcement syndicate, it was obvious that they had bigger things to worry about on that day.
Otherwise, the local towing companies would have made a small fortune on parade day and sent all their kids (and grandkids) to Ivy League schools and luxurious summer vacations in Greece and Italy.
I arrived in Philly early enough so I decided to walk to Broad Street and find my spot before the massive crowds showed up.
Bootleg Eagles Tees, Bud Light, Donald Trump, and Crazy Fans.
I soon noticed that the savvy bootleg Eagles T-shirt vendors were already out in force along Broad, selling “Super Bowl LII Championship” tees, underdog masks, Eagles banners, stickers, and more.
The (I called them) “Bud Light” hustlers were also out – handing out free cans of Bud Light to (of age) passers-by like energetic Pentecostal sidewalk preachers, passing out religious tracks to the “unsaved masses.”
“That’s what Philadelphia needs right now: free beer on the craziest day in the City’s history,” I thought to myself. It was a huge party and everyone was invited.
I wonder if the founding fathers would have broke out the Bud Light to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, I thought. Stupid thoughts. Obviously the cold weather was getting to my brain. I had to get some more coffee. Fast.
I wonder if the founding fathers would have broke out the Bud Light to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, I thought…
As the clock ticked closer to the beginning of the parade, I found a spot near the intersection of Federal Street and hunkered down in the brisk 20 degree temperatures (probably felt like 16 degrees wind chill).
For the next few hours, my objective was just to hold down my good spot on Broad, and get some awesome pictures of the parade that are Facebook-worthy. I had die-hard Eagles friends on Facebook who lived in places like Colorado and in Japan who couldn’t be there. I needed to gloat.
Now watching Eagles fans celebrate and have a good time on Broad was entertaining enough, without the parade as icing on the cake. Half of them were already drunk, and the other half was at least thinking about getting drunk I’m sure. I could smell Bud Light whiff across the crowd like urban potpourri.
I watched a group of 10 or so fans marching toward me. The huge 6’4 fan in the middle of the pack was wearing a Donald Trump mask for some reason. He aggressively grabbed a Bud Light from the vendor, and went on his way toward City Hall I presumed.
I didn’t even think twice about it. My brain was already cold, tired, and underperforming. Trying to figure that one out would have left me in a catatonic state I’m sure.
In fact, watching Eagles fans, in Philly, is like watching a real-life version of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” I overheard one guy standing next to me with his girlfriend and friends describing the conversation he had with his boss the day before, when he was abruptly informed that he would not be allowed to attend the parade due to a change in the work schedule.
His response: “Well … I guess this will be my 2-week notice then Mr. Jacobs,” he said in the thickest Italian-American accent you could imagine. “I’m gonna be at that *uckin’ parade tomorrow … job or no job. I’m outta here.”
I almost spit up my coffee.
Soon, the excitement and anticipation could be felt throughout the crowd as the word passed down the line that they could see the precession of vehicles slowly making its way to our location. I saw the flashing police lights in the distance. The faint sound of cheering and pandemonium yards away — and getting closer.
It was happening my friend.
The Parade … Finally!
The cellphones started coming out and the cheering began.
Seemingly, out of nowhere, I saw a person in a Mummers Parade costume walking down the line, giving fans high-fives. I high-fived him and said, “Was that Jason Kelce? … that was freakin’ Jason Kelce, dressed up in a Mummers Parade costume.” Could this day get any better?
This day did get better. Way better.
The parade began with a series of touring buses, wrapped with Eagles Super Bowl Champions LII décor. Of course, the first bus held the coaches, Nick Foles, Carson Wentz, and the coveted Lombardi Trophy. It was an amazing site to say the least.
Carson Wentz looked in awe and amazement at the size of the crowd that day. Nick Foles was proudly holding the Lombardi Trophy high in the air as they passed my location.
I quietly wondered if the whole — quarterback situation between those two super stars was still a little awkward. I’m sure it was – but today was about a team, and a City that we all love.
One fan generously threw a Bud Light can up at Doug Pederson who was proudly perched on top of the bus. I could see the police officers close to me start to react to it, but calmed down as Doug quickly reached out and caught the beer can without missing a beat. The crowd went crazy.
It was patently clear: This newly minted Philadelphia hero could do no wrong today. Or ever for that fact.
Busses with more players, cheerleaders, family, staff, motorcycle police, and others slowly paraded down the route toward City Hall and the “Rocky steps.”
It was a dream come true. A dream that Philly fans imagined would eventually come — but secretly feared that their mortality would not outlast. That day, we witnessed something special.
We all remember the amazing rally at City Hall and especially the epic speech by the Philadelphia Eagles center that gave me a high-five thirty minutes earlier. But it was now time to face the inevitable: the mass exodus out of Philly.
I’ll spare you the details of meandering through small Philadelphia alleyways, closed off streets, barricaded exits, and dodging a sea of other fans as I made my way back to I-95 toward Maryland. That adventure took over an hour to accomplish. I swear, only a few unavoidable traffic laws were broken but no Philadelphians were harmed in the commission of said offenses.
The Journey Home. Let’s Do It Again.
I was starving by now and decided to stop at the Maryland, Chesapeake House Rest Area on my way back and grab some lunch, look through my photos from the parade, and thaw out. I could see trickles of Eagles fans come in to the rest stop with their Wentz, Foles, McNabb, Westbrook, and Cunningham jerseys on.
We would give each other a polite nod and a smile when we crossed paths. There was a noticeable — added sense of pride that we all shared now. Like the day your child graduates from college or earns his or her PhD. Or graduates from USMC boot camp. “My baby has arrived…”
I eventually pulled away from the rest area and slowly merged back onto I-95. Oddly enough, Ice Cube’s song It was a Good Day started playing in my head. Today was indeed a good day.
The deeper I drove into Maryland, the more vehicles with Eagles banners and other fan paraphernalia started to dwindle away into the abyss. I was finally back to reality. I was deep into Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins territory again. Eagles fans weren’t welcomed here. Especially now.
But just as I began to mentally prepare myself for life as normal, a Dodge Charger SXT must have seen my stickers on the back of my truck and quickly raced to get in front of me. The Charger had an Eagles’ license plate holder, and numerous magnetic helmet stickers on the back as well.
The driver flashed his emergency lights and gave me a final wave. I waved back with a smile and he quickly drove off ahead into the busy traffic.
Today was our day. Today was a good day. Let’s do this again next February. E-A-G-L-E-S (Eagles!).
Written by Scott McGinnis for Goombay Tally Blog | www.goombaytally.com |