A Parade of a Lifetime

View of Downtown Philadelphia

On February 4, 2018, the Philadelphia Eagles NFL team won the Superbowl for the first time EVER. The Eagles have been called the Underdogs. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. And the game was against the New England Patriots, who have been to the Superbowl like 6 times. It was Epic. The minute the game was over, the city jumped up and hi-fived itself . . . for about a week.

I was born and raised in Philly and I just love my city. Winning the Superbowl wasn’t just about football – it was about celebrating and being proud. It’s like watching your family member march down the aisle at graduation. You didn’t personally do their homework or study or take the tests, but you are beaming with pride because you know how hard they worked to get there. Their achievement is your achievement, and that is exactly how the city felt. And that’s how my family and friends felt as we hugged and hi-fived each other: the texts with comments of how we finally made it, the Instagram posts with the underdog becoming a champion, and the electric excitement that anything is possible and to never give up. It’s greater than football; in life, when you face doubt, you persist, you work hard, and you never. give. up.

I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures, the posts, and the comments, but I wanted to give you a personal take of what it felt like living through that and ultimately, celebrating at the parade. Sit back, don’t close your eyes (unless you have some audio thing that reads to you), and just imagine you are watching this on a movie screen.

So, the game finished last Sunday night. People in the city were already partying pretty late. Of course, the occasional person took things way too far and so you may have had an overturned car here and there. Yeah, Philly can be rough sometimes. But, first time ever!!! so we kinda got a pass. Monday at work EVERYONE is talking about the game. Everyone comes in wearing their Eagles caps and jackets and t-shirts. It was super cute. My friends and I start texting each other “So . . . . you going to the parade?” We have no idea when the parade is going to be but rumor has it Tuesday or Wednesday. I’m looking at my calendar for Tuesday and Wednesday, and it’s a lot of things to move around, but this is HISTORY. But how am I going to get there? Who am I going with? I live in Delaware, which is right next to Philly, but I’m sure driving would be nuts, so that was out. I could go stay with someone in Philly, but I don’t want to travel to the parade alone; no way I’d find my friends with 3 million people expected to be there. So everyone is online and on social media, waiting for word of what’s going on. Finally, an article says the city will announce at noon. Noon comes and the parade is announced for Thursday . . .most likely. Most likely?!!! Ugh!! I think they wanted to do Wed but it was supposed to rain. The next day is full of texting with people to see who is ACTUALLY going and figuring out the logistics. I have to hand it to the Mayor, Septa, and City of Philadelphia – I thought everything was organized very well. Wilmington, Delaware also did a great job with crowd control. (Clap, clap, clap).

Details came out confirming that the parade would be Thursday. The route would be from the Lincoln Financial Field stadium up Broad Street, down the Parkway and finally end at the Art Museum. There would only be 3 trains leaving Delaware, and from 1 station only. On Tuesday I decided for sure to go. I moved all my meetings that were on Thursday and blocked the day. I was headed to the train station after work to get my ticket when my friend grabbed them for me. We started texting logistics of how we wanted to catch that first train, the 6:40am out of Wilmington. We discussed parking options and carpooling to have less cars. We arranged wake up calls and pick ups for the big day.

Wednesday I was nervous. Am I really doing this? This is going to be CRAZY!! I was filled with adrenaline and we were pumped, but still a little anxious about being surrounded by that many people. WIll we even make it there? What if all the trains are full? WIll we be able to see? What if we have to go to the bathroom? With 3 million people and limited porta potty’s, these are all important questions (much easier for men, lol). Wednesday night I finished packing my bag. I originally was going to take a drawstring bag, but eventually the strings hurt your shoulders, so I decided to go with a backpack. I had everything I needed and felt very prepared. I read what was not allowed.

This is what I brought and what I would recommend for anyone going to an event like this:
Water
Snacks (chips, peanut butter crackers, nuts) – make sure to have some protein
Hand sanitizer
Toilet paper (you can get travel rolls at camping stores, indispensable!!!)
Tissues/napkins
Hand warmers
Phone battery pack (with the correct cord)
Chapstick
Sunglasses (the only thing I forgot)
Bag for trash

The temperature was about 34F, but the windchill was 23. I felt adequately dressed with:
Long johns
Long socks
Ski pants
Comfortable Boots (not fashion boots)
Thermal long t-shirt
Hoodie
Superbowl T-shirt on top
Scarf
Ear warmers
Winter Coat

Thursday was the big day. Let’s travel back in time and relive the moment:

Wilmington Train Station

The day started off with a 4:45 am wake up call. I am by no means a morning person, so this help was very important. I was also worried about being hungry so I made sure to have some breakfast. I had a blueberry banana smoothie, which was perfect. I was also glad that I had packed my bag the night before because I was deliriously tired and sure to forget something. I put some makeup on (in case we were on tv) and left my house at the crack of dawn. I picked up a friend and then we headed to another’s house. We made it down to the Wilmington train station and saw that all the nearby lots were full. We found parking further away and found our last remaining party mate. It was a brisk 10 minute walk from our cars to the train station and there we saw a massive line. It went from the train station, down some blocks into the park, around the park, down some blocks and looped around. No lie, HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE.

Well, we got in line, but it was doubtful if we would even get on the train. I guess people had started lining up at 4 am (something I was not willing to do). The last time I looked online there were still going to be three trains leaving from the Wilmington station.

Wilmington Train Station

Someone in line said the city added a fourth train, but still, lots of people, and limited seating. After the last train left there were no more inbound trains into Philadelphia until after 2pm. We stayed in line while we thought of a game plan – we could drive up to the Media train station, which I heard was empty on the radio. But it’s a risk. If we leave the line we lose our place. There’s also no guarantee that Media wouldn’t be full by the time we get there or that there would be available parking. We could drive up to Philly, but we hadn’t planned to so we had no idea where we would actually park – the stadium parking lot was unavailable and I’m sure that people that actually live in the city would have claimed the good spots by now. Ok, so we decided that we would stay in line and decide in an hour or so if we wanted to consider taking an Uber up to the city. With 4 of us, it couldn’t be more than $15 a piece.

The energy is the lines was happy and hopeful and anxious and nervous. Every so often the line would move up and the people within sight of the train station would get happy because they knew they would make it onto the next train. The people towards the end had a nervous look of “will there be room for me?” and the people in the middle were in a daze, not knowing which group they belonged to. But it was the break of dawn and we took off from work and we were excited. One way or the other, I was going to have an awesome day. So, no matter what, we were laughing and enjoying the wait. School kids formed dance circles, journalists interviewed my group and people around us to see how we were feeling, and to later track if we actually made it, and it was cold, so everyone was near one another and continued to move to keep the blood circulating.

After 1 hour and 40 minutes of waiting in the cold, our spot in line moved into the train station and we were allowed to board!!! Step 1 was complete. We were this much closer to Philadelphia and to the Parade. On the train ride we all sang the Eagles fight song. People commented on throwback jerseys and coats, interesting green hair and makeup. More hi-fives, and just a general happy go lucky attitude. Once we arrived in Philadelphia, we were guided outside and on our own. There were a line of porta potty’s that we decided to take advantage of, since we didn’t know when we would see one again, and made our way to the Art Museum. Most people went up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, but we went around the back across Spring Garden. I knew there were already masses of people lining up and it would be easier to navigate this way. We found our spots around 10 am and stood our ground. They had music blaring, people were pumped and dancing. Lots of sharing of snacks. As we are standing there waiting for the floats to come by we talked to the people next to us, danced, laughed, and sang. Cell phone reception was non-existent with so many people using their phones so we just took pictures and enjoyed the moment. There were jumbotrons sprinkled throughout the crowd, so we could see what was going on. The parade float started in South Philly at 11, so we didn’t even see it until about 1:30.

Panoramic at the Art Museum

The crowd cheers as the players are paraded by. They get off the bosses and come down the Art museum steps. The cheerleaders and mascot are dancing, and everyone has something to say. We listened to the National Anthem play, fighter jets zoom by (it was pretty cool, didn’t even hear them coming) and there were fireworks. The city pulled all the stops out for this team. It was endearing and heartfelt. I can’t even imagine how it feels to have millions of people come out and stand for hours, just to applaud me, so I can imagine how awesome these players felt.

We didn’t stay for all of the players’ speeches, because we knew we still had a trek home. Walking back the 2 miles to the train station, we were still on a high – pumped and excited that we were a part of history. We were there for the first ever Philadelphia Eagles Superbowl Parade. People started talking about next year, but I like to just relish in the here and now and enjoy the moment. It was awesome. No major issues. The wait home was not as exciting, because we had been standing for hours and were very tired, but it was only 1.5 hours. Soon we were sitting on the train back to Wilmington. My body was sore, I wanted a shower, and I was starving. We got back to the train station and decided to grab a bite to eat. As the food filled our bellies (our first real meal all day, for most of us), we were excited again. We actually did it. We made the long haul and were able to be a part of this magical day.

Eagle in the tree

And so that was it. I’m still smiling that my friends and I pulled it off, I will never forget the long lines, the cold temperatures, or dashing out my house in the dark to go to a parade of millions. But I’m so glad I did it. I had a blast. I’m thankful to God that we didn’t encounter any issues. And I had an absolutely amazing time. I love my city of Philadelphia, and am super proud of our Philadelphia Eagles. Fly, Eagles, Fly!

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MeliM

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