The Royals had their victory parade on Tuesday. If you know nothing about this event, you: A. never found the most obscure cable channel ever created, Fox Sports 1; B. traded your AM radio for a weather radio, which is amazing at warning about hurricanes and tornadoes but nothing else; or C. you just returned from a trip to the International Space Station and have some catching up to do.
If, on the other hand, this is old news, then odds are you were probably at the parade. With a reported 800,000 fans in attendance, statistically the crowd likely included you, your kids, your cousins from Holyrood, Kanopolis, Wilson and that great Uncle from Victoria no one talks about. Heck, you may have been that tall guy standing in front of me at the corner of Pershing and Grand who kept moving his head around every time I had good line of vision.
But if you were in the minority who did not attend the parade, I’ve got your back. I’m going to give you a first person account of what transpired.
I suppose I could resort to clichés like “it was a complete and utter zoo of people” or “imagine the entire population of China squeezed into a land mass the size of Ellinwood” or “whoever ordered the port-a-potties should be fired, and then forced to wait nine hours to use one of the three facilities he ordered for everyone.” None would do it justice.
Look, I don’t want to be the skunk at the garden party. Far be it for me to be the Debbie Downer. After all, authorities today are saying twice the population of KCMO attended. So yes, stuff happens. And as far as I could tell, everyone was nice, pleasant, accommodating. And to be sure the Royals gave us the dream season that we’ve been waiting for “you know how many years.”
But none of this will stop me from writing this column.
Because a couple facts need to be shared. Any team would welcome new fans. And Tuesday there were many new fans who suddenly were ditching their Cardinals jerseys, or only owned Chiefs jerseys and thought they were at a football rally. This became clear when the parade started and moms near me needed explanations, for instance, like “who’s Christian Colon?” As every true fan knows, he was the one … wait. Remind me? YES. Hit in the winning run in game five. He will never need a credit card at any bar for the rest of his life.
So yes, we had a lot of bandwagon fans.
But there were a couple other things that happened that probably won’t make the local news,like this tidbit:
The parade started at noon, and we were near the end of the route. So at 12:45 we’d seen no evidence of any parade. None. We stood at the corner where the parade route turned to the west and we couldn’t see anything. Correction: I could see the back of the guy’s head very clearly.
And just when we wondered if the parade took a detour we heard it. Some people behind us started yelling. “MEDIC! MEDIC!” The word was being passed up to the front of the parade, which meant it had to be passed through a couple thousand people. Finally a policeman got the word and made his way through the crowd. And that’s when I heard what the commotion was about. “A lady is in labor” one person said to the cop. The policeman responded “that’s not my specialty.” He proceeded on to investigate. Other policemen followed, none presumably, trained in cutting umbilical cords.
About a minute later a lady returned from the mass and said to us “I’m a nurse. Yeah, she is having delivery pains. I’m not sure what they can do. She has a couple kids with her.” So yes, on the day we were crowning a new champion, she was crowning. And where did they take her? Yes. Crown Center.
You can’t make this up.
And this was a good 15 minutes before we saw the first evidence the parade was coming to our position. And when it finally arrived it was amazing.
There were fans in a tree near us. The tree was right along the street and gave an incredible view of the parade. So naturally this huge tree had one kid in it. Everyone looked at the tree and wondered? Can I get there? I sure did. And his dad was forbidding anyone else from climbing into it. The tree was his. He owned it. We called him various names, like tree hugger, tree man, Father Nature, scary man. Not to his face, of course. We didn’t want a confrontation because all the cops were busy yelling “PUSH! PUSH!” Scary man, probably worked for the TSA in his real job.
So the parade went by and there were many observations but here is another one you won’t see in the Wichita Eagle. First base coach Rusty Kuntz doesn’t simply resemble Robert Redford. That doesn’t capture his allure. The man made mothers – thousands of them – stop breathing for a minute, maybe two. And maybe a couple guys.
Rusty has game.
Where else in the world will you read those words conjoined?
When the parade was over, we needed to travel maybe an eighth of a mile to get to Union Station for the pep rally. This required some effort. My wife left to the safe confines of my office which is near Crown Center, so my brother-in-law Mike Riley and I decided to attempt the walk to Union Station. Ever seen how salmon swim upstream and then die? That was sort of like what we tried to do. There was no way to get through the people. But we tried. And eventually succeeded.
But between Crown Center and Union Station, the sun came out, the heat bore down and it happened. The ambulances started to arrive. You’ve probably never seen an ambulance attempt to part the Red Sea. Not even Moses could accomplish this feat. I saw it all, happily from a rare spot where there was shade.
Mike and I eventually made it close enough to the pep rally to be able to identify ant-like figures on the stage speaking to the masses. It was pretty cool but there was one moment, just one moment, when I wondered if it would be more comfortable watching from my couch.
Everything ended, we walked back to my office, got in our car, and then endured two hours of traffic to return home to Leawood.
It was an awesome day, month, and year. And for next year’s parade (and there will be one) I’m bringing stilts.