Yesterday was the Parade in Philadelphia to celebrate the World Champion Phillies. Philly has done this before. Like... 4 times. And not since 1983. This one was going to be special though. The population back in the 80's was like, what? 3 million? Today it's close to 6 million, and a large percentge of that number falls within the demographic of 25-40 years olds.
That means that most of those people have never witnessed a championship in Phila. They heard, watched and read about the '80 Phils, the '83 Sixers, even the 70's champs of the Flyers.
But they have never witnessed a parade or celebtatrion that has been spoken about in the press, and by family members who were there. This was their opportunity to show off their pride, celebrate with the other fans, and show their appeciation to the team and organization.
The first correspondence I got about the parade was around 11:30pm wednesday night. About 2 hours after Lidge K'd Heinke. It was from my oldest brother and it read, "taking the train down friday?" I knew what he meant and figured there would be a lot more planning that would go into it before then. Thursday was a bunch of phone calls, posts on the RPT boards, and emails from several different group of friends all solidifying their plans and sending invitations to everyone who wated to go.
The Phils had offered seats to both the Linc and the Bank Park for people to be able to sit and watch the festivities after the parade down broad. As a season ticket holder, we were entitled to 2 seats. The rest would be put up for grabs on the Phillies site at 3pm Thursday. First come, First serve. I heard all 112,000 seats were taken in like 45 minutes, and within the hour their were some up for sale on Ebay. Some going for $300 a piece. Capitalism baby! Who said it's dead?
I decided that having to be back in time for Halloween, I would just go for the Parade, and head back by three in order to help with the kids.
One group was heading out of the Devon area. Taking the R9 train into Suburban Station. Another group was heading out of Norristown. Their plan was to hop the R6 express to the same destination. Yet another group was heading out of Bridgeport on the R100 speedline. This took you into 69th st, and from there you could catch the "EL" into center city. They figured the express lines would be jammed up and the transfer route would be the way to go.
Thursday night came and I got a call from a dear friend who lives in the Allentown (yes, of Billy Joel fame), area. This is a guy who I have taken to many games throughout the last 10 years. We both are huge fans of the game, and the Phillies. He said to me that he was thinking of taking Chase down to the parade. Chase is his 10 year old boy who grew up with my daughter.
I thought about it for ten seconds and thought, "OK", we can take the kids, I guess.
Taking the kids never entered my mind. I thought the situation would be too volatile to try and keep track of them, keep them safe in a huge crowd like that, and selfishly, I didn't want to either. I wanted to celebrate. I didn't need two little urchins running along side of me, trying to keep up, getting ran over, having to go to the bathroom, etc.
He said he was going to talk to the wife, and call me back that night, or in the morning. We could decide then if we would take the kids. I hung up the phone and prepared myself to tell the wife what may happen. The school had sent a letter home saying it was ok for the kids to skip school in order to go to the parade, but that they would not be closing the schoool for that reason.
I was off the hook there. But the wife thought about the same things I did. Safety. Big Crowds. Trains!. Getting back in time for Halloween in time, and, of course, the question of if I was really responsible, and could be trusted enough to take care of two children. I told her, I was 11 when I went to the '80's Phillies parade. It was something would never forget. In the least, the 10 year old needed to go.
My man showed up at 9:00am on friday morning with his boy in tow. I had the two girls, C, and Syd, all ready for departure. We decided on the 10am R6 train out of Norrisown. My neighbor was getting her son into a minivan in her driveway. He is 13. I aksed if they were going, and of course the boy was, but she said something a little troublesome.
Her husband went to get the train into work at 7 am. It went right by him. Never stopped. It was him, and about 500 other people, all trying to get into the city either work, or celebrate the Phils. Word started coming down from friends as far away north as an hour giving reports that thousands of people where trying to get the trains and but they were full from either further stops. It was going to be a mess.
We loaded up the kids and headed to the train station. Norristown is the county seat, and has a very large legal community. It borders Phila, and to handle the commuters coming in and out of Philly, there are 5 stations all within 6 block of each other. We approached the first one. I could see a sea of red walking from blocks away toward the station. As we got there, the parking lot was full, there were cars parking illegally, and people walking from neighborhoods where they normally would never park for reasons of saftey.
As we drove past, we couldn't count the amount of people that were there. This station was the end of the line for the R6. It didn't go any further. There was too many people to even form a line The platform was packed, and there were lines coming down the steps that lead into a ass of people who stood around the paking lot, and into the street. The funny thing was, the same scene was another two blocks away. On the same line.
I thought for a second that taking the train wouldn't be too smart of an idea. Everyone apparently was doing it, so the roads had to be wide open. Not the case, so said Mr. Traffic reporter. "Jesus, is the whole state going to this parade?", asked my daughter.
We made our way round Norristown, into Conshohoken, and finally back towards Gulph Mills. Gulph Mills is a station where the wealthy people live! No oe takes the train from there. Plus, its in the middle nowhere. You need a car to get to the station. So I figured it was a good bet.
BOOOOOOOOOOOM! It was! We pulled up and there was a stopped train. With no one on the platform. It took us a while to park because both sides of the platform parking lots where full. I found a little side road and parked illegally not caring if the car was towed. We needed to get down there.
We were the first ones on the platform. Within 10 minutes, there was 50 people. Then 100. Then 300. It was gettting ridiculous. I called my brother and he was still waiting in Bridgeport. But he was getting the same train that was coming to us.
4 trains passed the station without stopping. Everyone was getting pissed. I thought for a second that we should drive to 69th st, and grab the "El" from there. IF we couldn't get a train, what ws the point? The I came up with a brilliant idea.
The train heading into Norristown kept stopping on the other side. I thought, lets jump it going North Bound. We could just stay on it, and the round trip from Norristown back to here was only 20 minutes. We had waited an hour already. About 1/3 of the people who were on the other side saw what I w doing and they followed. Now, in order to get to the other side of the platform, you have to walk down a flight of stairs, go through the tunnels, and come up another flight of stairs.
Here comes the northbound train, and I'm digging my plan. Only it doesn't stop. It keeps going. To add insult, here comes the south bound train.. and it's stopping! SHIT! We all take off down the stairs, through the tunnel, and back up the other flight of stairs. My brother calls me, and is yelling, "hurry up fat ass!". He was on that train and in the front car.
I was the last one up the stairs, and got into the last car. I think a few saftely violations were committed that day. We started on down the line, and everyone was singing Phillies chants, and songs, and Rocky, and everything else.
(this is a picture from the front of the last car. the kids are behind me sitting on the ledge of the front windshield next to the conductor)
As crammped as it was, everyone was having a great time. We all knew where we were going, and WHY we were going. Not one person didn't have red on. Peoplof all ages were represented, infants, to 80 year olds. It was breathtaking, spectacular, and exciting. It was relieving.
My 7 year old looked at me and said, "Hey Dad, how many trains go into the city? Like, all over the world, how many go into the city?" I responded, "I don't know, what's your point?". She said "I wonder if they are all this."
The Septa operator laughed and shook his head. "You right little one. You definately right."
We got into 69th st. station passing every single stop on the way, with each station holding at least 500 people. We got through the 69th street terminal in about 30 minutes. There are stories there, but I have pictures below that will give you an idea.
They opened up the terminal and we headed down stairs to the subway, instead of the "el" because they had added more cars. Everyone was relieved to be on the train and about 10 minutes away from party time.