Why 700,000 people braved 10-degree windchill to stand around all day

How the Seahawks' fairy tale Super Bowl bridged Seattle's racial and economic divides.

Every sports market deserves one. None of them will do it like Seattle did Wednesday.

So cold that seals shivered. So warm that cops cried. So compelling that Pete Carroll, king of the run-on sentence, was nearly at a loss.

"There's not enough words to describe the emotion, the exchange," he said. But true to his mantra, "always compete," he tried.

"The consistency of the intensity of the fans along the route was amazing," he said, talking to reporters after a final ceremony on the home field. "The frustrating part was not being able to touch everyone and feel the gratitude we have . . . I can't imagine one [celebration] better than that. That was over the top."

Over the top. Police estimated 700,000, Seahawks owner Paul Allen said nearly a million. But measurement was not about quantity. It was about quality. From babies to oldies, happiness raged.

The Seahawks make their way through the crush of fans at a super Bowl celebration in Downtown Seattle. Photo: David Sizer

"The thing that struck me was the little kids," Carroll said. "Some were screaming and hollering, some were a little intimidated, but they had this moment, and will remember this connection with their parents."

Those who witnessed a similar Seattle parade in 1979 when the Sonics won the NBA Championship will tell you where they stood, which Sonics they saw, how the air smelled and how they met their spouse that day. For a new generation, those same things happened Wednesday.

The sensory richness of thousands sharing delight in concert is not to be forgotten. In 2064, some guy will tell his grandkids about how, when he was a little boy, Brandon Mebane smiled at him. Another will describe how his cheeks felt when Marshawn Lynch hit them with Skittles. A woman will giggle telling about the time she and Richard Sherman made eye contact, and he winked at the little girl.

They all will remember, man, was it cold. Some lasted hours in it – a living, pulsing REI catalog flowing through downtown. It just enhanced the adventure.

The processional was late, slow and a shocker for players and fans alike. Neither was quite ready for the other. Some fans came from Alaska, others from Canada, Montana, Idaho, Oregon. There was the guy who walked from Bellevue over the I-90 bridge. Some slept in tents on Fourth Avenue concrete.

The crowd was a lot like the Seahawks roster – from many places. Only Wide Receiver Jermaine Kearse is homegrown, from Tacoma's Lakes High School and the University of Washington. Can we have a 253 amen for the brother who broke five tackles on the way to a Super Bowl touchdown?

The Seahawks have the biggest geographic monopoly in the NFL, one reason every single downtown hotel room was sold out on Tuesday night. Lots of people in the region, in the soon-to-be-immortal words of Lynch, are all 'bout that action.

That's why the Seahawks achievement has a value beyond a sports trophy. Seattle is drawing thousands of technology workers from around the country and the world. Microsoft's new CEO is from India.

There are so many new people here who came for the jobs and have only minimal social connections. Seahawks success provides a universal touchstone around which people connect; something besides the next app – even if they don't exactly know that's why they care about Golden Tate's yards after catch.

Same with the Sounders. The international appeal of soccer directly connects to the thousands of tech workers whose ethnic heritages reserve a prominent place for futbol. Think about it: The Seahawks and Sounders lead their sports in ravenous consumption by home fans. It's not the coffee.


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Comments:

Posted Sat, Feb 8, 7:48 a.m. Inappropriate

Beautifully stated, Art. Thank you.

Posted Sat, Feb 8, 11:06 a.m. Inappropriate

A perfect day. Even the rain would not rain on this parade!

Posted Sat, Feb 8, 4:01 p.m. Inappropriate

Thank you for this, Art! What I loved about the championship game itself was the marvelous professionalism of the players - no wasting of energy in victory dances for "Me Me Me," but a steady, careful focus on each instant of the work to be done, and on using one's own hard-won skills to the nth degree, but as just one member of a team. This is what made them champions to me. Their performance feels like a model for all kinds of the work we do with each other.

Posted Sat, Feb 8, 4:01 p.m. Inappropriate

What a world class city! On a par with Mayberry!

It can't hold a parade AND run buses downtown.

Posted Mon, Feb 10, 4:31 p.m. Inappropriate

Art, You hit the nail on the head. Glad to see a fellow Vashon Islander reading the tea leaves right. Bill Mitchell

Posted Fri, Feb 14, 11:35 a.m. Inappropriate

I hadn't thought of this:

"There are so many new people here who came for the jobs and have only minimal social connections. Seahawks success provides a universal touchstone around which people connect; something besides the next app – even if they don't exactly know that's why they care about Golden Tate's yards after catch."

Thanks for the insight!

sandik

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