It was priceless.
Young fans climbed on tops of phone booths. Adults hung from construction scaffoldings in an attempt to view the street. The crowds were enormous, as all knew they would be, and many became agitated with the fact that once they were part of the crowd, they remained that way without exit. Expletives were shouted in thick accents as onlookers were thrust into each other trying to make room. Countless grew weary, but as soon as the roar of the crowd on the adjacent side street closer to the parade began to grow, everyone silenced their complaints and raised cameras and camcorders in anticipation, cheering and trying to distinguish which player was atop the passing float.
At Friday’s New York Yankees’ ticker-tape parade, a sea of navy and white flooded the streets perpendicular to Broadway, all inching forward for the chance to see their champions, and to further identify with the players dressed in street clothes who brought so much joy to so many in attendance.
At that moment, when Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter or any Yankee passed, waving and smiling, and as confetti fell from buildings, filling the New York sky, there was never a better moment to be a sports fan.
When that surreal feeling hits and life seems like cinema, a fan can stop, look around and realize that yes, this is actually happening. All of those nights of anguish, praying for a two-out hit or a double play are worth every wrinkle. Those red eyes caused by 15-inning marathons and SportsCenter highlights are worth the sleepless nights. That spackled hole in the wall created by the 2004 American League Championship Series was worth the trip to the hardware store.
The ticker-tape parade is the pinnacle of all sports fandom.
Never are more jubilant fans together in one place for one common reason – to celebrate a World Championship. Does “World” mean superiority over all other teams on this planet? No, it generally refers to America, but no matter the sport, fans will proudly claim their teams are the greatest in the land, and that feeling of winning is like no other. That feeling of being on top, living vicariously through a group of people that were fans once as well is unexplainable. When fans associate storming the field at Yankee Stadium with a little league championship trophy they once raised above their head, and remembering how that felt is almost awe-inspiring.
After the floats passed, Broadway opened and fans flocked to nearby City Hall Park, where a massive screen allowed them to view the preceding City Hall ceremonies. Once they were no longer packed on side streets, fans spread out and began to take pictures to commemorate the day. Families and friends squeezed into shots capturing the event, while other crowds formed, tossing the fallen confetti back into the cool air, creating paper fireworks. Thousands high-fived and chanted pro-Yankees and anti-Phillies slogans. It was a day for the fans.
Perhaps what makes a ticker-tape parade so special is that, like seeing any phenomenon, fans never know when it’s going to happen again, so they take the day off, pull their children out of school, cope with the crowds and cherish the day for what it is – a potential once-in-a-lifetime moment that will never be replicated.
So many critics moan over the lofty dollar amounts professional athletes, namely Yankees players, bring in annually, but when the team that took millions and millions of dollars to build brings millions together for a positive purpose, the numbers fade into memory. Fans do not remember 2009 for a team’s budget, but for when they became a part of a World Series victory. They remember the final pitch, and they remember walking the city streets, knowing they were a part of something bigger than them, a team of millions, all wishing for the success of a few.
When those few succeeded, everybody won.