Penn students joined local Philadelphia residents and longtime Eagles fans from out of town on Thursday afternoon to celebrate a historic moment for Philadelphia.
For the first time ever on Feb. 4, the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl, sparking chaos across the city. After city officials announced plans for a parade on Thursday, various institutions made plans to suspend operations, Penn included.
While the city will not release official data on the crowd size, estimates suggest around 700,000 people braved the wind chills to catch a glimpse of the winning team.
After starting off at the Lincoln Financial Field stadium at Broad Street and Pattison Avenue, the parade travelled north until it reached Benjamin Franklin Parkway. From there, it continued until the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where thousands of attendees were packed together, elbow-to-elbow.
Just before 10 a.m., larger waves of students trekked down to City Hall, the closest point on the parade route to campus. Just outside Hill College House, droves of Penn students marched together toward City Hall yelling, "F**k Tom Brady!"
This year’s Super Bowl was the first football game that College and Engineering freshman Arun Kirubarajan had ever seen. Hailing from his hometown of Mississuaga, Canada, Kirubarajan said watching the Super Bowl helped him “assimilate into American culture.”
“The Super Bowl has allowed me to understand how integral football is. At the riots after they won, they were crying and hugging each other, even grown men,” he said on his way out of Hill College House at 9:30 a.m.
College sophomore Paige Adams said she woke up at 6:15 a.m. this morning because she was "too excited." Walking down Locust Walk at 9 a.m., the longtime Eagles fan was completely decked out in Eagles gear, from a green number nine jersey to a pair of sweatpants with “PHILADELPHIA EAGLES” plastered all over them.
Adams said she was relieved that normal operations had been suspended on Thursday not just at Penn but at institutions across the city. As a mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters, Adams said she would have skipped the parade to meet her mentor if the Philadelphia public schools had not suspended operations for the parade.
Around City Hall, a sea of green poured out from all directions. Men, women, and children were decked out in Eagles apparel while babies were wrapped in green blankets in their strollers. People in their late 60s and 70s sported jerseys of retired Eagles players, while some of their younger counterparts showed off green faces, beards, and capes.
The area around City Hall was packed by 8 a.m. but fans had started filtering into the sidewalks outside City Hall hours before. Almost all businesses were closed along the parade route, but many awnings and balconies held people up who were hoping to catch a view of the parade or at least escape the strong smell of marijuana on the cramped sidewalks.
Multiple vendors offered free food and drinks for people at the parade. Approximately 40 food trucks were stationed along the route, as well as 850 portable toilets. Nonetheless, many fans attending the parade opted for some other spot to relieve themselves along the five-mile route. Near the Philadelphia Art Museum, there were dozens of men lined up against a fence to urinate.
Along the route, there were also people selling Eagles t-shirts, people on stilts, and fans holding signs covered in glitter above hats depicting actual eagles filled the streets. Others brought along a copy of Monday's newspaper, emblazoned with headlines of the historic victory.
As attendees waited for the floats to come by, many grew excited to see a group of planes create phrases like "Philly Dilly" and "Eagles" in skywriting. While some attendees tried tracking the progress of the parades on their phones, many relied on the cheers of fans further down the road to signal the appearance of their athletic heroes.
Pat Suplee, who was with her husband Dennis Suplee, said she appreciated how down-to-earth the Eagles players were as they passed by on the parade floats, handing down trophies for fans to touch. She added that her favorite moment was when Jason Kelce, the Eagles center now gaining Twitter fame for attending the parade in a , waved to fans from atop a float.
For many Philadelphia natives, this victory was long overdue and there was little that would stop them from attending the parade.
Grace Youngren, an 18-year-old who goes to school at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, missed six classes in order to come back to her home city and attend the Eagles parade.
Outside the museum, fans were singing and dancing to music playing on the speakers. There were also two large screens playing the Eagles' Super Bowl game against the New England Patriots. Every time the team scored, the crowds cheered like it was game night.
In the hours leading up to the arrival of the floats, some brave fans entertained themselves by climbing on trees, telephone poles, and sculptures, while people around them threw beer cans in an attempt to take them down.
The loudest cheers of the day might have come when Eagles’ All-Pro center Jason Kelce took the mic at the ceremony held outside the museum. Dressed in traditional mummer's garb, Kelce brought the chants and applause to a roar repeatedly during his five-minute speech.
“We were a bunch of underdogs. And you know what an underdog is? It’s a hungry dog,” Kelce shouted. “Everybody wonders why the Philadelphia Eagles’ aren’t the nicest fans. If I don’t eat breakfast, I’m f**king pissed off.”2004 College graduate Jason Brown, 36, and his wife Vanessa, 35, were also taking in the sights near the museum. They traveled from Wynnwood, a suburb just outside the city, with their entire family of six.
“This has been a family ordeal and I imagine that we’ll be Eagles fans for generations to come," Brown said. "I want [my children] to look back and say, ‘through all the craziness, through all the cold, mummy and daddy took me to the celebrations.'"
“They’ll remember this for the rest of their lives.”
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