At 4 a.m. they rose in Allentown. 4:30 in Hazelton.
At 5:45 a.m., Dawn Lewis of Willingboro, New Jersey, was watching as the morning news showed hundreds of thousands of happy Eagles fans cramming their way into Philadelphia for the Super Bowl parade.
That’s when she decided to join them, but she worried she wouldn’t make it, because PATCO was sold out of train passes.
“I said, ‘They out here already. Forget this. We gotta figure out how to get here,’” Lewis said.
After hours of driving and walking, Lewis landed on the apron outside City Hall.
“And as soon as we get done this interview, I’m gonna break out Meek Mill, and we gonna sing the fight song. GOOOOOO EAGLES!!!!”
It was a day of strange sights. A man blasting rapper Meek Mill on a giant, strap-on boom box. People swigging alcohol on top of parked city trash trucks. And other perched in trees chanting the old familiar phrase: E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!
On the corner of Pine and Broad streets, Philadelphians waited with uncharacteristic patience for the parade to pass. Around noon, a current of sound surged up the block as the players rolled by.
When the party got to the Art Museum, it was the players’ turn to roar back.
Star center Jason Kelce stole the spotlight with a fiery and profane speech about the team that no one picked to win, the team that relished its role as underdogs.
“And you know who the biggest underdog is? It’s y’all, Philadelphia,” he said. “For 52 years, y’all have been waiting for this. Y’all wanna talk about an underdog? Y’all wanna talk about a hungry dog? For 52 years, y’all been starved of this championship.”
On Thursday, the fans finally got to eat. They gorged themselves on happiness well overdue.
It was a long wait, made one day longer by bad weather on Wednesday.
But Thursday was perfect. Sky of blue above. Sea of green below.