Scenes From a Parade . . .

By Dennis Boone

Random observations from a once-a-half-century event in Kansas City:

  • It’s not yet 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday—four hours before the Chiefs Super Bowl parade celebration even begins well to the north in the River Market—but two miles south of Downtown, cars already line the curbs of Gillham Road outside the Midtown Costco. The first trickles of red-clad fans have begun moving north from there.
  • The temperature is sub-freezing: Mid-20s. Snow is starting to wisp around the heads of the inbound fans. There was speculation that the weather would keep a lot of people away. If it did, it’s hard to imagine the size of this crowd had this been a warm, sunny morning.
  • Chiefs red is everywhere—15 seems to be a popular number, for some reason—but there are ghosts walking among the names on those jerseys: Gonzalez. Holmes. Charles. And the great Derrick Thomas. This is a party with roots that run impossibly deep.
  • By 10 a.m., still 90 minutes before the first double-decker bus starts rolling, Grand Boulevard has achieved a critical mass of fans. Through Downtown, they line either side of the street 10 deep on the sidewalk; as the street opens up south of the loop, that density doubles, and reaches 30 deep at the intersection of 20th Street.
  • A biting wind makes that crowd size particularly impressive. Along Baltimore Street, a nicely padded ski glove sits where it fell by the curb. Someone is going to regret missing that. Soon.
  • A Missouri Highway Patrolman, asked about the level of backup, says 800 uniformed officers are working the route and surrounding area, from various jurisdictions. At least one he knows of has come in from Oklahoma.
  • For a lucky few in the office buildings or apartments elevated above the first floors, there is ideal viewing as the trucks, buses and tractors trundle by with players, coaches, cheerleaders, civic officials and others filling the parade vehicles.
  • If it has “Chiefs” or “Super Bowl Champions” on it, you can find it for sale from sidewalk vendors hawking everything from T-shirts to headbands. An enterprising few have stocked up on hand warmers. God bless entrepreneurship.
  • The local constabulary in Kansas City, we understand, routinely enforces a ban on open containers. This must not be a routine day.
  • As parade vehicles approach, cheers in a roar wash down Grand like waves assaulting a beach. Before long, people are doing the Chop and war cry outside Union Station; echoes roll across the train tracks to the north and ripple through the Freighthouse district in the Crossroads.
  • At the Union Station terminus, fans wait nearly an hour for the early-arriving parade to segue into the celebration program. The Hunt family, Chiefs ownership, management and Coach Andy Reid all pay tribute to those who made this 50-year journey possible. Fans are included in each reference.
  • Players come to the microphone—Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, safety Tyrann Mathieu, a performance we might call the WWE’s version of Travis Kelce Raw, receiver Tyreek Hill. All reflect the emotion of the moment; the audio isn’t great, but a couple of them seem to be making touching references to their mothers.
  • The celebration ends, fittingly, with Big Red himself, Andy Reid, thumping the war drum as the war cry rises across southern Downtown one more time.
  • At that point, several hundred thousand people start fanning out. Many are intent on taking Kelce up on his guidance: If you fight for the right, you are entitled to party.
  • The crowd disperses like an army moving in two ranks: Thousands make their way west through the Crossroads, east toward the 18th and Vine district or back into KC Live! in the Power & Light district before the parade even ends. They know they won’t be able to make it through the masses to get within earshot of Union Station. Thousands more hang out for the entire stage event, a red sea rivaling the great blue ocean we saw on that plaza after the World Series victory in 2015.
  • Watching the mass exodus, a Kansas City police officer shakes his head. “That,” he says, “is a lot of people.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *