Wednesday, February 5, 2014
SEATTLE — Seattle, are you ready to show your love?
In 1979, when the city threw a parade for the NBA World Champions Seattle SuperSonics, about 300,000 ecstatic, screaming fans leaned in from rooftops, fire escapes, tree branches and light poles.
City leaders say they expect as many as half a million spectators to crowd downtown Seattle streets today for the parade and rally to celebrate the 43-8 Super Bowl beatdown of the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
Fans wonder, given the 12th Man’s reach across the Northwest and into Canada, if the crowd might be even bigger.
“I don’t think we’ve seen anything like it ever,” said Kate Carcelen, who attended the 1979 parade at age 8. “I’ll never forget that day, but this is that times 100.”
So sudden is this championship, and so inexperienced is the city, that officials enlisted the help of Seafair to manage logistics and marshal its legion of about 350 volunteers to produce and direct the parade — on three days’ notice.
“We had some very high-level conversations with the Seahawks and the city last week, but we didn’t want to jinx the game,” said President Beth Knox of Seafair, which stages the annual Torchlight Parade and hydroplane races.
The Seahawks paradewill travel on Fourth Avenue through downtown Seattle, starting at 11 a.m. just south of Denny Way and ending about 1:30 p.m.
At CenturyLink Field, Seahawks season-ticket holders have been invited to a rally after the parade, where head coach Pete Carroll and others will speak. Fans can arrive as early as 10:30 a.m. to watch the parade on the stadium’s video boards.
Thousands more fans — nonseason-ticket holders — will be admitted to Safeco Field starting at 10:30 a.m. Tickets to that event are required and were made available online to print for free on a first-come basis. Spectators in both stadiums will be able to watch the parade and an on-field presentation from a big screen.
Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a Moment of Loudness at 12:12 p.m., urging fans to make “as much noise as possible for 30 seconds.”
Seattle Public Schools Superintendent José Banda relented on his decision not to excuse students who wanted to attend. At the urging of Mayor Ed Murray and indignant children across the city, Banda is now leaving it up to principals to decide if students can get an excused absence with the permission of their parents.
Several other school districts, including Northshore, Lake Washington and Highline, said they would excuse students going to the parade with their parents’ OK.
City officials say bring your voices, wear your team colors, but don’t bring confetti.
The 1979 Sonics parade featured ticker tape, toilet-paper rolls, shredded newspaper and clouds of fluttering green and gold confetti, the team colors.
And while Paul Allen’s First and Goal organization is paying for the parade, city leaders don’t want to pay to clean it all up, said Kyle Moore, spokesman for the Seattle Fire Department, which is helping coordinate the parade and staff the city’s Emergency Operations Center.
Moore said the weather report is for sunny but cold weather. He suggested people layer-up in warm clothes. He also said that because Wednesday is a workday, many downtown-parking garages will be full. Everyone is advised to set out for downtown early and take transit when possible.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman last week described some of Denver quarterback Peyton Manning’s passes as ducks. During the Super Bowl, a couple of those fat, fluttering passes were picked off by the Seahawks’ dominant defense.
So maybe it’s appropriate that team members will Ride the Ducks the length of Wednesday’s parade route, as well as some open military vehicles.
The amphibious Ducks, ubiquitous on downtown streets during tourist season, ride high off the ground and will give spectators a good look at the players, coaches, staff and the handful of elected officials who have been invited.
“I’m so excited I can’t stand it,” said Brian Tracey, owner of Ride the Ducks of Seattle. He said the Seahawks have asked for 11 Ducks, but that Duck #12 will definitely be in the parade.
And he added that planning was in flux about who would be riding in which vehicle.
He was confident that people would be able to see Russell Wilson, wherever he’s seated in a Duck or Humvee.
The Seattle Police Department has called in all of its officers who aren’t sick or on military leave, with reinforcements from the King County Sheriff’s Office and the State Patrol.
Fire crews and medics will be posted along the route. Seafair’s emergency- management plan includes crowd observers for heightened security.
Assistant Seattle Police Chief Paul McDonagh said the fans have been respectful all year. “Hope they will have the same attitude tomorrow” during the parade, he tweeted Tuesday.
Former Mayor Charles Royer, who rode with Sonics head coach Lenny Wilkens in a vintage convertible in the 1979 parade, said that not a single street tree or shop window was broken.
At the time, he said, everyone thought professional-sports championships would become routine for the city. But only the Seattle Storm has brought home world-championship trophies in the intervening years, winning WNBA titles in 2004 and 2010.
Fans, though, believe that the young and talented Seahawks team is capable of bringing back the Lombardi Trophy before another generation of kids is AARP-eligible.
Still, you never know, and they don’t want to miss the celebration Wednesday.
Carcelen said she will wear the Pete Carroll autographed Seahawks jersey she won last week at a raffle and plans to scream her love and lungs out at CenturyLink Field.
“We know it’s going to be the beginning of something big,” she said.