Philly celebrates — and keeps it real
The City of Brotherly Love marked the occasion of their first Super Bowl championship with joy — and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry.
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Standing in the cold for three hours in a crowd, waiting for the Eagles Championship parade to pass by, any newcomer to the city has an up-close and personal lesson in how Philadelphians keep it real even while celebrating like there’s no tomorrow (or at the very least, no work tomorrow) for the city’s first-ever Super Bowl victory.
Keeping it real in this case might best be defined by saying that no one escapes criticism. Yes, there’s a grown, older man who doesn’t hesitate to admit “I’m gonna cry” to some of his buddies when the parade comes through, and fans of all races and ages (with all manner of decorations) jostle shoulder to shoulder, talking about the season, what the championship means, and what their emotional play-by-play was for every moment of the Super Bowl. People cheer on the kid perched atop some sort of box attached to one of the light poles, one man gives out a free donut or two, and another man blasts music from a portable loudspeaker while beers and other consumable, celebratory items are shared.
And of course, inevitably, the most ebullient revelers scale up light poles, trees, SEPTA station overhangs, and any somewhat vertical object in their path.
The unity of the crowd, the camaraderie and euphoria is palpable — this is, after all, the stuff that makes Philadelphia live up to its name as the “City of Brotherly Love.” But as anyone with siblings can attest to, if the city truly embraces the “brotherly” part of that phrase, in all of its complication and tension, then a true Eagles Super Bowl parade means that even in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime celebration, no one gets a free pass on anything.
First, the pole climbers: their valiant efforts will be applauded...if they succeed. If not, well, the crowd reserves its praise and maintains its standards.
Eagles fans have high standards: If your pole-climbing doesn't measure up, you will probably be booed. #EaglesFansStandards #FlyEaglesFly #EaglesALDIA #philly @ALDIANews #EaglesParade pic.twitter.com/uBzz13cWsZ— Emily Neil (@E_B_Neil) February 8, 2018
Other athletic feats attempted by fans are subject to the same fine sports judgment that, after all, must be part of why the city is now home to what might be the most coveted trophy in U.S. sports. In the cold but joyful hours of waiting before the parade makes its way to City Hall, the crowd on one side of the street in front of the historic landmark passes a bright pink ball to the other side of the street. As the game of catch goes back and forth down the line, onlookers heartily cheer the best throws — but don’t fail to boo again whenever the ball falls short of the other side’s fence.
Even the T-shirt salesman persistently hawking the Super Bowl Champion regalia at the corner can’t catch a break. After a few “shut ups” and a “cállate” from the crowd, a woman looks around and suggests that everyone pitch in a few dollars to buy one T-shirt so that his “T-shirts! T-shirts” call, monotonous as an incessant car horn, will be rewarded (and perhaps quieted).
As for the successful climbers, they also don’t escape criticism. A couple of young men posing on top of the SEPTA overhang are sternly reprimanded by voices from the peanut gallery who warn of jail and arrests.
But once the parade turns the corner at City Hall and comes into view, all the disparate and differing voices of the crowd merge in one cheer and chant. Whatever sibling bickering might occur in the midst of a Philly crowd, it’s all in the family, and at the end of the day, no one forgets that it’s the underdogs against the rest of the world.