It was the best of times… it was the worst of times.
Ok, so maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but that was the phrase that kept echoing through my mind yesterday as I stood in downtown Seattle along with my two youngest children and about 700,000 other people in the bitter cold to celebrate our Seahawks winning the Super Bowl.
I’ve had a lot of people ask me the same question- was it worth it?
It’s one of those questions that’s not a simple yes or no. But if I had to pick one, I’d say yes. It’s a lot easier to say that while I am currently indoors with the heat blasting, but I will tell you, I know the exact moment when I realized that yes, it was all worth it. And I was still a human popsicle at the time.
Let me back up a bit, first.
OH MY GOSH THE SEAHAWKS WON THE SUPER BOWL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It’s still a little surreal. Every once in a while I have to repeat that and pinch myself to believe it.
As I said in my post http://kbjackson.com/what-danny-bonaduce-guinness-and-colin-kaepernicks-eyebrow-all-have-in-common/ I have been a football fan pretty much my entire life. I became a Seahawks fan shortly after moving to Washington State in the late 70’s. I attended games in the Kingdome with my family. I cheered on Jim Zorn and Steve Largent, Dave Krieg and Kenny Easley. I watched my Hawks get into the playoffs many times in the early 80’s and lose to Oakland or Denver. It seemed we just were never quite good enough to take it all the way. Mostly, we were perpetual losers.
And then came 1996. The owner at the time moved my beloved team to Los Angeles. I’d like to go on record as saying that while I believe in general a business owner has every right to move his business elsewhere, it’s a nasty, awful thing to take a sports team away from its fans. We’ve had it done not once, but twice.
Thankfully, that nasty old earthquake death trap Kingdome had an iron-clad lease that prevented the move from happening. Local Microsoft billionaire and homegrown boy Paul Allen bought the team, invested in the team, and is a huge reason why the Lombardi trophy is in Seattle.
We had a close one in 2005. We here in Seattle don’t like to talk about that Super Bowl.
So when the parade to celebrate this city and this team was announced, I knew I had to be there.
With a parade start time of 11am, I began to calculate the time we would have to leave home to get there. Turned out that was at nofreakingwaycouldIleavethatearly o’clock.
Plan B: rent a hotel room in Seattle.
I went online and rooms were booking fast. At one point, Expedia said “1143 people are also currently looking at this hotel.” Many of the reasonable, close hotels were booked. I switched to Priceline. They had an express deal they were calling “Downtown Seattle-Pike Place” 3 star for $99. I jumped on it.
Funny thing, though, apparently Priceline considers Capitol Hill Downtown/Pike Place. No matter that it’s nearly a mile and a half straight downhill to get to the market, and nearly a mile and a half straight uphill on one of the steepest grades in the city of Seattle to get back.
I got onto Priceline chat and the person I chatted with told me in no uncertain terms I was locked in. I said, “Have you heard of Sir Mix-a-lot? When he sings about his posse being on Broadway… THIS is the area he’s talking about. Capitol Hill is NOT downtown/Pike Place.”
She was not swayed.
Turned out the hotel itself is nice, and that area of Capitol Hill is a lot safer than I had remembered from my college days. It’s right across from Seattle University and Swedish hospital. Other than an empty bottle of vodka sitting on a wall that Zoe “accidentally knocked over,” it was pretty clean.
On our way down into Seattle, I looked up at the sky and as I looked at the clouds, I thought I saw an image. I snapped a quick picture.
When I posted and tweeted it, I didn’t suggest what I thought it looked like. I only said I saw something interesting. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who saw it, because soon the picture went viral.
I’m not sure if it’s visible, but as of this morning, the posting on the local news station’s website has over 3500 likes on the photo and over 2200 shares.
If you can’t see it, look at this, and then look at the cloud pic again.
Like someone said, maybe you have to be a Hawks fan to see it. It doesn’t bother me if people think it’s a stretch. I thought some comments were unnecessarily rude. And it did make me realize that anonymity is a beautiful thing. With my name on the photo and people making not always positive comments, I felt a little bit like I had a target on my back. Turns out my skin is pretty thin. I may have to work on that.
Anyways, we checked into the hotel and then made our way down to the restaurant for dinner. Other than Zoe accidentally ending up in the men’s room, it was pretty uneventful. We went to the pool for a bit, met other fans who were there for the parade, and then headed back up to go to bed. Zoe passed out first, and Parker ended up discovering the movie “Spaceballs.” All day yesterday he kept saying, “Yogurt! I hate Yogurt! Even with strawberries!”
The alarm went off at 7am with “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore playing. Seemed an appropriate start to the day.
The kids were moving in slow motion, and by the time we got downstairs it was 8 o’clock. I saw a group of people sitting in the lobby in Seahawks gear. I said, “Is this the waiting area for the shuttle?”
They said, “Oh no. We aren’t waiting for the shuttle. It’s full until 9. We’re gonna walk.”
They gave us directions on how to get downtown.
I looked at my kids and said, “Well, it’s looks like we’re walking.”
We started heading down Broadway towards James. (I later found out we could have taken Madison and saved us a lot of time and energy) There was a homeless man walking across the street in front of us. Coming from the opposite direction was a tall black kid, maybe about 19 years old, carrying a backpack. As he passed the man, he held out some money, no words other than a “thank you” were said. I looked at Zoe and said, “That was beautiful.” She smiled and nodded her head.
Parker dawdled most of the way downtown.
My thought was that once we got to 4th Ave and scoped out the crowd, we would find a place to get coffee and something to eat. I was not prepared for lines at the three coffee places in the center we went into to each have lines that rival Disneyland. Starbucks had like 75 people in line. The other two, maybe 30 each. I picked a bakery and got in line. I overheard one of the girls who was working there say “This morning we’ve already gone through as much coffee as we normally do in a week.” It was 9am.
I waited for about 30 minutes before getting my turn to order. They were already out of milk chocolate, so the only cocoas they were selling were white chocolate. I ordered a drip coffee for myself, plus two bacon and egg sandwiches and some oatmeal. Another 30 minutes later, and the food was ready. I found out at that point that the coffee was self serve and I could have gotten it right away. About 10 minutes later, the white hot chocolates came up. Both of my kids took one sip and grimaced.
We would never survive an apocalypse.
We found a spot that I considered primo- it was a fenced off area in front of a closed restaurant. It looked like the kind of area where they set tables out on warm summer evenings. I liked it because there was a permanent separation from the passing crowd, and if I needed to put Parker on my shoulders, I wouldn’t be blocking anyone.
Zoe wasn’t having it.
We walked closer to the start of the parade route, only to find the crowd thickening. I convinced her to turn back and go further south. Eventually we found a spot that was right behind two rows of chairs. People had been camping out all night for curbside seats. I put a blanket down on the ground, and stood behind the kids. They bundled up close and tried to keep warm in the 26 degree temps with a 19 degree wind chill. We stood there for a bit before three women and a boy showed up. They started moving in between me and the kids to get to a sport further up. I said, “You’re not really going to go in front of us are you?” Apparently they were surprised that I would actually comment. One of the girls stood with the boy in front of me, and another said, we just want to make sure he can see.”
I was trying not to be a bitch, but I wasn’t happy.
One of the women assured me they would make a spot for Zoe and Parker when the time came.
Then the rest of their group showed up. They began pushing in front of me also.
I said, “How many of your group are planning on getting in front of me?”
They looked stunned that I said anything. The guy said, “We just want to make sure he sees, I don’t really care.”
I said, “I get that. But we were here first and now all of you are trying to get in front, and it’s a little frustrating.”
Meanwhile, one of the girls, maybe 13 or 14, who was seated in the front row chairs, had taken it upon herself to start taking care of Zoe and Parker. I looked down and said, “Whose blanket is that?”
Zoe said, “It’s hers. She put it over us.” Throughout the morning, I saw the girl continually adjusting the blanket to make sure the kids were covered and warm. Faith in humanity restored.
Soon, a group of teenage boys were crawling past us, going onto the street. The people who had been there all night were getting upset because the police were not making everyone stay on the sidewalk, and crowds were filling in in front of their chairs. I watched several women kicking newcomers out of the area. Some moved on, some didn’t care what they said. They had shown up at the last minute and were going to get a good spot, regardless. It was starting to make me anxious.
I looked across the way at the courthouse building where I could see people looking out floor to ceiling windows. I contemplated getting myself arrested just to be able to watch the parade from indoors.
It was noon and the parade, which was supposed to start at 11, had still not arrived. My kids were miserable and cold. I made a decision.
“We’re going north. We’re going to try to find a spot as close to the start of the parade, so we can see it, be done, and go get warm somewhere.”
Parker stayed bundled in the blanket, and we started our journey. The crowds were like nothing I had ever seen before.
At 12:12, by the Governor’s decree, a moment of loudness commenced.
We were like salmon swimming upstream in a marijuana-infused stream. There were, as I heard someone say, a lot of people “smoking the state flower.”
At a certain point, though, everything came to a halt. There was no movement. I was getting pushed from behind, but there was a wall of people in front of me. Zoe was bumping into Parker, who in turn began punching her and elbowing her. I tried explaining that she wasn’t pushing him on purpose, but he was getting pretty angry. There was a lot of yelling, a lot of swearing, a lot of pushing. Eventually someone went hulk and made a path. We got pushed through and up onto a side street. There were hundreds of people on that street, trying to look onto 4th to see the parade.
I said, “I’m done fighting.”
Parker said, “I wanna go home.”
Zoe said, “I can’t see! Did we really do all this not to see the parade?”
I looked at her and I said, “Take your brother. Wiggle yourselves into a place where you can see.”
They made their way through the crowd to the intersection. I said a prayer that I would find them again.
Finally, the parade began.
The first part of the parade was the team buses with no one inside them. After they passed by, I saw Zoe and Parker running towards me through the crowd.
“We got up front! We saw the parade!”
I said, “That wasn’t the parade. That was just the beginning. Get back in there!”
They ran back through the crowd.
Just as Marshawn Lynch made his way to our intersection, throwing skittles at the crowd, my phone died. I couldn’t believe it. I still had 30% battery life, and my phone shut down and said it needed to be connected to a battery.
Later I found out that this happened to several people I know. I have heard many explanations, such as overloading of the towers, cold temperatures affecting battery life, the 911 system not working properly so callers were being asked to limit calls.
None of these explanations satisfy me. It was 26 degrees, and if phone batteries shut down when it’s 26 degrees, does that mean no one in the Midwest or east coast has been able to use their phones all winter?
I wasn’t making phones calls, or on Facebook. I wasn’t even sending texts. All I was doing was taking pictures. I wasn’t zapping cell strength or tower strength.
And shutting down the phones wouldn’t help the 911 problem, it would create a new one- people unable to call 911 because their phones weren’t working.
I plan on getting to the bottom of this, you have my word on it.
So I didn’t get pictures of the actual parade. I got pre-parade pictures.
The good news is that a lot of my friends got great shots, including my friend Gretta Kosanovich who got these shots of the actual parade:
But the best part was the look on Zoe and Parker’s faces when they came back in excitement to tell me about seeing Marshawn Lynch throwing skittles at them, Richard Sherman, “the coach” and everyone.
That’s what made it ALL worth it.
We walked with the crowds until we got to the street that we had come down in the morning. It loomed steeply before us, but we just started hiking.
Halfway up the street, we came across a rat. A squashed rat.
Parker insisted I take a picture, and I told him my phone had died. I pulled it out, attempted to turn it on, and well, whatta ya know? It turned on with 27% battery life left. Totally suspicious.
It took us an hour to get out of Seattle yesterday afternoon. We were starving so we stopped off at a Red Robin- 45 minute wait.
I piled them back into the car, but by then we were all craving Red Robin. Next mall closer to our house? 45- an hour wait. At 330 on a Wednesday!
I hear that in Seattle alone, 13000 students and over 500 teachers were absent yesterday. No count yet on the outlying districts, or the amount of people who skipped work. A woman next to me said to her boyfriend, “My boss said not to come in if I don’t feel good. And I don’t feel good- I feel great!” Over 700,000 people were at the parade yesterday, and only 650,000 live in the city. No one was arrested and people remained mostly in good spirits.
We were surrounded by people of all ethnic, racial, religious and political backgrounds, cheering together, united. This place is special, and I’m glad we were a part of it.
It was a long day. It was cold. It was frustrating at times. I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it again if I had it to do over, but I’m glad I don’t have to do it over again.
It really was ONCE in a lifetime.