Massive love fest at Eagles Super Bowl parade

Philadelphia welcomes home its returning champions

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Jason Kelce has a message for all youse guys who thought the Philadelphia Eagles couldn’t do it.

“We’re a bunch of underdogs. And you know what underdogs is? It’s a hungry dog … Hungry dogs run faster!” the Eagles center shouted, accidentally spawning a new hashtag (#HungryDogsRunFaster). “Everybody who said we can’t get it done? F*** you!”

It was the most Philly of speeches for a team fans feared would never win a Super Bowl.

But of course, they did, bringing home the Vince Lombardi trophy in a 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots last Sunday.

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And today was the party, a day to savor the long-sought title and give doubters the finger — or rather, the Phinger.

After a five-mile parade from the stadiums to the Art Museum steps, the team took turns at the podium thanking fans and basking in their love in an hour-long ceremony that was equal parts bragging and beatdown.

Kelce won the day as he ran through every criticism or snub ever levied at the current team, pounding the podium, until he was hoarse and his teammates were guffawing in disbelief.

“No one wanted us, no one liked this team. No analysts liked this team to win the Super Bowl, and no one likes our fans,” said Kelce, who wore a sparkly and feathered Mummers costume (because of course).

More than 2 million people packed the city to see the Super Bowl LII champions parade through the streets.

The players, coaches, cheerleaders, and mascot Swoop waved to fans from a caravan of 24 green-and-white buses along the parade route, while a drumline kept time, and confetti fluttered through the air. Skywriting planes wrote the joy above the city in puffs of smoke that spelled out “Philly Philly Dilly Dilly.”

For most of the length of the parade, there was barely a square inch of space to spare between jubilant fans.

A few players and Coach Doug Pederson thrilled the crowd when they stepped off the parade bus, Lombardi trophy in hand, to high-five fans along the parade route near Broad and Pattison.

As crowds grew rowdy further north, a police supervisor warned on police radio: “Make them understand, if they do that in Center City, we’re going to lose everything.”

Crowds have packed the parade route since before the sun rose, including at the Art Museum, where bundled-up fans chanted the Eagles cheer into the frigid morning. As the parade passed them by, a few fans threw cans of beer to Eagles players, who guzzled them down. The footballers, in turn, tossed knit hats and t-shirts to fans.

Fans spent the morning rewatching the big game on the Jumbotrons along the parade route, and people gasped and reacted to it like they were watching it for the first time.  Gov. Tom Wolf was among the crowd gathered at the Art Museum, and he wore an Eagles scarf.

Even so, he refused to declare the Birds better than the Steelers, saying he’s a “Pennsylvania fan.”

“All 12.8 million Pennsylvanians are proud of the Eagles,” Wolf said.

The Eagles took the Art Museum steps shortly after 2 p.m., as Meek Mill blasted from the speakers and fireworks shot into the air.

The players danced and took selfies, shot video of the crowd, and mostly beamed with joy at fans who returned the love. Of course, there were plenty of dog masks.

“This time, this town, and this team were perfect together,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie told fans: “This Super Bowl championship is for you! You are the most passionate and deserving sports fans on the planet. We couldn’t have done it without you.”

And Pederson promised this would not be Philly’s last victory parade.

“We are not done yet!” Pederson said. “This is our new norm, to be playing football in February.”

Nick Foles, the Super Bowl’s MVP who pulled off that famous Philly Special, earned deafening cheers.

“We finally did it!” Foles shouted. “We’re Super Bowl champs!”

Players took the podium, one by one, to thank the fans for their support and revel in their victory.

Chris Long, in a full-length fur coat, and Lane Johnson, in ski goggles, barked and gave an underdog howl into the microphone.

“We want to break a world record,” Long shouted, as he and Johnson led fans in an Eagles chant that had to be heard on the moon.

“I hope y’all can get used to this,” Carson Wentz, the team’s MVP, told the crowd.

Malcolm Jenkins hoisted the Lombardi trophy.

“Everybody in here doubted us as players, and all we did was step up, love each other, fly more,” Jenkins said. “This is for the city of Philadelphia.”

As Queen’s “We Are the Champions” blared from the speakers, a few players stepped forward to sing off-key into the microphone, as the crowd sang along.

Fans drank it in.

“This has meant everything to us,” said David Davenport, 55, of Gloucester County, New Jersey. “We finally did it.”

Fan Eileen DeMarco joked that she used to want her pallbearers dressed as Eagles so “they could let me down one more time.”

But this year?

“After the third game, when they kicked the 61-yard field goal, I said: ‘This year is divine intervention. Somehow, someway, this year is gonna be the year,’ ” DeMarco said. “And every week when somebody would get hurt and the next man would step to the plate and take over, it just kept making more and more sense.”

The excitement was palpable along the parade route, as fans milled around, shoulder to shoulder, hours before the festivities started.

On a day when they might otherwise be sitting down for breakfast, plenty of partiers today spent their morning in bars along the parade route, perhaps lured by the warmth indoors or the free beer.

At the Sit on It Bar in Point Breeze, fans like Earlene Stith touted their Philly native pride. “This is where I come from. This is what we do,” Stith said.

Just down the bar, Laverne Daves was ebullient. Her joy goes deep. Her son was diagnosed with cancer in 2005 and receiving treatment in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia when the Eagles sent a few players to visit. “Since I see how they feel about the kids, I’ve been a fan,” she said.

On every block, a few entrepreneurial folks sold T-shirts and other goodies. Pretzels were going for $5 down by the stadiums. “That markup is 1,000 percent,” said a fan who decided he’d wait to eat. T-shirts were going for $15, and beanies, $20.

At Benna’s West cafe on South Broad Street near Dickinson Street, co-owner Jossie Newman  revelled in a busy day of “absolute madness” that somehow stayed sane. “It’s been the best day,” she said. “We’ve let people bring their beer in, but everyone’s been courteous and there’s a new thing where people cheer when the bathroom door opens.”

Some fans waved signs with slogans like “We Won This Jawn,” “Big Dick Nick” (complete with anatomically correct illustration) and “Public Enemy Number One” (picturing commentator Chris Collinsworth, who questioned the Eagles touchdowns during the big game).

There was even a protest. A small group of religious people waved signs down by the stadiums. An army of police stood watch, as passing fans ignored them or shouted insults.

The police scanner was hopping long before the parade started, with police scrambling to remove fans who had climbed trees and clambered onto rooftops (including one along the Ben Franklin Parkway that was starting to cave in from the weight), restore order to convenience stores ravaged by boisterous fans, assist those hunting port-a-potties, and connect lost children with parents. Paramedics kept busy making rescue calls for everything from unconscious parade-goers to broken bones to at least one fan so drunk he could no longer walk.

Kahnisha Childrey, 32, of Lawncrest, was excited to share the parade with her kids — even though son Kyleaf says they should’ve gotten more than a day off from school.

Childrey was too nervous to watch the whole Super Bowl, so she turned off the TV halfway through. After the game, she wasn’t sure if she heard fireworks or gunshots outside.

“I called my friend, I said, ‘What happened, what happened?’ I started jumping up and down,” Childrey says.

Many commuters had a tough time getting to the parade — and getting home afterward. So some got creative as they tried to sidestep traffic congestion.

Kate Burke of Huntington Valley rented a yellow school bus to shuttle 45 kids and their parents from their neighborhood to the parade. Most of the kids on the bus got a school-sanctioned holiday to come celebrate — except Robert Mottershead’s kids, who go to Abington. He called them out sick. As a Philly schoolteacher, he was off today, so it’s only fair, he figured.

“A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Mottershead said.

Karen Dean from West Deptford, New Jersey, walked through the parade crowd with a crutch after she tore the meniscus in her knee while celebrating too hard after the Birds’ NFC win.

“When I realized that the Eagles were going to the Super Bowl, I started crying, jumping up and down. A little later, I said, ‘oh, my knee hurts!,’ ” Dean said. “So Carson Wentz —  love you, buddy! You’re coming back — guess what, (her injury) didn’t keep me from here!”

As early as 5 a.m., lines at many Regional Rail stations snaked around walkways and parking lots, as revelers tried to beat the rush into the city.

Rocco Granato, of King of Prussia, is taking his son Christopher Strohm to the parade. “It still hasn’t sunken in,” Granato said about the Eagles’ win.

Kyle Roberts, 23, of Newtown, spent the frigid day in shorts, the only bare-legged fan among a crowd bulked up by winter wear.

“I gained a little weight, and I don’t fit into any pants,” he explained. “These shorts fit magically, so I’m going to rock these today. I went for a two-year streak without wearing pants, my freshman and sophomore years of college, so I think I’m well-weathered to sustain this [look] during the parade.”

Fan Prince Awo drove from Baltimore to watch the parade.

“I’ve been looking forward to this for years! 57, to be exact. I’m not 57 years old, but that’s how long,” Awo said, referring to the last time the Eagles won a championship. “Celebrate all day, all day! Dilly Dilly!”

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