PHILADELPHIA - The championship parade Philadelphia has dreamed about and agonized over — year after year, decade after decade, across generations of faithful but frustrated fans — well, it's here, Philly. It's finally here. Your beloved Eagles are heading up Broad Street.
The city's first Super Bowl parade steps off Thursday, capping a glorious week for jubilant fans celebrating an NFL title that had eluded them for nearly 60 years. Led by backup quarterback Nick Foles and second-year coach Doug Pederson, the Eagles beat the New England Patriots 41-33.
Schools, museums, courts, government offices and even the Philadelphia Zoo will be shut down as the city fetes an underdog Eagles team that few outside Philadelphia thought had a prayer of beating the mighty Patriots. The parade starts near the team's stadium and, fittingly, ends its 5-mile (8-kilometer) trek at the art museum steps that Sylvester Stallone climbed in the "Rocky" movies.
Organizers said they're preparing for as many as 2 million people to jam the parade route. No official estimate was released for the parade after the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, but experts have said that crowd likely didn't exceed 750,000.
Fans made their way to the parade route and art museum through the overnight and early morning hours, braving frigid wind chills in the low 20s, for a prime viewing spot.
Other fans lined up for mass transit just to get to the parade. The city's two subways will be free all day, but fans coming in from the Pennsylvania suburbs might have a trickier time getting into the city.
All 50,000 special parade day tickets for the SEPTA regional railroad lines are sold out, though weekly and monthly passes remain valid. The rapid transit system connecting Philadelphia and southern New Jersey also sold parade tickets, but warned having one wouldn't necessarily guarantee a ride. PATCO suggested an alternative: Walking across the nearly 2-mile-long (3-kilometer-long) Benjamin Franklin Bridge.
Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney asked fans to celebrate with passion and pride after Sunday's wild postgame celebration was marred by "knuckleheads" who resorted to violence and vandalism.
"Now remember — act responsibly, don't ruin this for the fans who have waited decades for what will be a historic day as the Eagles finally parade up Broad Street," he said. "We are, after all, the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection."
The parade has touched off a bit of a beer war.
Bud Light will offer free beer to revelers at two dozen bars along the parade route, thanks to a promise its brewer made to Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson before the season.
Not wanting to be upstaged by an out-of-towner, Philadelphia-based Yards Brewing said it will offer fans a free Philly Pale Ale on parade day in the brewery's taproom.
"We might not be able to get everyone a beer but we can try," the brewer tweeted.