PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia’s first Super Bowl parade stepped off Thursday as hundreds of thousands of deliriously happy Eagles fans jammed the city’s main thoroughfares to celebrate an NFL title many of them never thought they’d see.
Fans clad in Eagles green lined up 20 deep in spots to catch a glimpse of the champs, who rode up Broad Street in open-top, double decker buses. Bundled up against freezing winds, some fans from New Jersey walked across the nearly 2-mile long Benjamin Franklin Bridge just to get into the city.
Natasha Curley, 31, a janitor from Trenton, New Jersey, said the Super Bowl victory silences fans of despised rivals like the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.
“This stops all the hate,” she said. “They got nothing to say now.”
The players got into the Philly spirit. Center Jason Kelce walked the route in an outlandishly sequined Mummers getup — a nod to Philadelphia’s raucous annual parade on New Year’s Day — slapping fans’ hands and leading them in a profane chant broadcast on live TV. Defensive end Chris Long wore a full-length, fake fur coat atop an Allen Iverson 76ers jersey.
Parade ready pic.twitter.com/tuCQbTkOrY
— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) February 8, 2018
Coach Doug Pederson carried the Lombardi Trophy past the cheering throngs, while franchise owner Jeffrey Lurie held a sign saying “THANK YOU FANS” while standing next to the team’s three quarterbacks: Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, injured starter Carson Wentz and third-stringer Nate Sudfeld.
Dan Tarvin, 29, was pumped after getting to high-five Pederson and GM Howie Roseman, who was instrumental in putting together a squad expected to compete for championships for years to come.
“They are more than heroes. They’re legends. They’re immortal in this city, forever,” Tarvin said.
The parade caps a glorious week for jubilant fans celebrating an NFL title that had eluded them for nearly 60 years. Led by the backup quarterback Foles and second-year coach Pederson, the Eagles beat the New England Patriots 41-33 on Sunday night.
Schools, museums, courts, government offices and even the Philadelphia Zoo were shut down so the city could fete an underdog Eagles team that few outside Philadelphia thought had a prayer of beating the mighty Patriots led by superstar quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick.
Organizers prepared for as many as 2 million people, though city officials have said they aren’t planning to release a crowd estimate — making any number a guess as easily inflatable as a football (sorry Pats fans).
Craig Moyer, of Downingtown, said he came to the parade to honor his late mother.
“She was an Eagles fan who used to tell me about the old championship games. So this is for her. We’re down here for her,” he said.
Associated Press reporter Kristen De Groot contributed to this report.