PHILADELPHIA — Turns out, they don’t call this the “City of Brotherly Love” for nothing.
I volunteered at work to make the trip to Philadelphia to cover Thursday’s Super Bowl parade — by myself.
As a young, female reporter, some of my peers and family members expressed concern about me making this solo voyage.
I didn’t think twice.
I have never lived in Philadelphia, but two of my siblings attended school there. I’ve spent enough time traveling to the city that I’ve never thought twice about walking around alone. I’ve done it before, so why couldn’t I do it again with a possible two million people as company?
My time in Philadelphia was nothing short of enjoyable and memorable.
From the moment I stepped off the bus, I constantly had people to talk to, enjoy the parade with and share life stories with.
Two girls who walked down Broad Street with me came down from Northeast Pennsylvania. They were fans and wanted to experience the parade in person. They came stocked with beer, and someone on their bus was handing out Jell-O shots, so they had a decent stock for the morning.
We ended up parting ways, and I later found myself in Marconi Plaza. There was a large influx of people getting ready to watch the parade, climbing trees, playing football and positioning their young children on their shoulders so they could see the stars of the show: the Super Bowl champion Eagles.
I ended up standing behind a young man who got into the city at 7 a.m. from Los Angeles. He grew up in Philly, and said he didn’t want to watch the parade on TV.
He talked with the young kids around him who were there with their parents.
“You’re lucky,” he told them. “I had to wait 24 years for this.”
After the parade cleared out from the plaza, we all split up. I was on my own again, making my way slowly toward the art museum. I ran into a woman who hadn’t been at the parade, and was making her way home.
She’s originally from Philly, she told me, but lived in Boston for a number of years. A weird situation for her to be in, with the Eagles and Patriots match-up. She wasn’t happy with the way New England legend Tom Brady handled the loss.
“I was appalled,” she said.
I told her I was, too. Brady could have at least composed himself enough to publicly congratulate Eagles quarterback Nick Foles and the rest of the team.
She was surprised I wasn’t from the city, and that I was traveling alone.
“How far are you going down?” she asked.
I didn’t know, I was just following the crowd. Trying to be where the action is.
“I’m a journalist,” I told her.
We talked a little more, and she told me the job I was doing (journalism in general, not the parade specifically) was important these days.
“Don’t walk too much farther down, it gets a little bad,” she warned me.
I thanked her for the advice, but I didn’t know where else to go, so down Broad Street I continued.
Along the way, I chanted with people, took pictures and videos, and tried to soak in as much as I could. I passed a few signs people had hanging from their windows. Some included Philly slang, such as “We won that jawn,” while others contained messages for Tom Brady.
People let me take pictures, videos and never did anything but smile, dance and laugh.
Even when I made my way to a cafe to sit and write my stories, people shared my table with me and talked to me about everything from the weather to my zodiac sign.
People often say rude things about Eagles fans — how they act during games and how they celebrate. And I’m not going to say there isn’t a mess to clean up along the parade route. But the heart of the city is one of inclusion and making people feel at home.
Fans of all creeds came together to celebrate both their city and their team, and they were just happy to share the moment with everyone who wanted to participate.
Bottom line: Philly knows how to party nicely.
Reach Brigid Edmunds at 570-991-6113 or on Twitter @brigidedmunds.