This could have easily been entitled A Royal Celebration To Forget as well. Considering the majority in attendance had no idea what to expect from this event, things could have gotten out of control in a nasty way. Take an estimated 800k people and cram them into a place that forces people to forget any notion of personal space. When you’re shoulder to shoulder (if you’re lucky enough to have that much room) and everyone wants to be as close to the action as possible, tempers can flare with little provocation.
One man with his toddler on his shoulders was trying to force his way through the crowd to “get back to his family”. Maybe he was, I don’t know for certain. What I do know is the family standing next to me tried politely asking him to be patient as they were also trying to move down, but no one was able to move so forcing the issue meant he was stepping on their son’s foot. A few exchanges between the wife, her husband, and this man escalated quickly as he was telling her to keep her mouth shut and then he asked the husband if he wanted to step back a few feet. He actually reached up to take his child off his shoulders so he could take the husband up the hill a bit, take off their shirts, and see what’s what. Yes, in a crowd where no one was really able to move, this jerk wanted to start what might have been the biggest outdoor bar fight. Fortunately, everyone around just squeezed closer together so he could leave without further issue. Other than some rude people (who apparently dropped the words “excuse me” from their vocabulary) nearly knocking me over into a child sitting in a plastic red wagon, the rest of the time was pretty exciting.
My intention was to meet up with my friends Michael, Josh, and their respective families, but work forced us to drive separately. Once we parked and headed down to the parade and rally areas, however, nearly all cell reception was lost and I never found them. Rather than try to walk around hoping to run into them or walking out of the area so I could possibly call them, I just parked myself about where I’ve marked the above picture. Aforementioned rude people aside, everyone else was pleasant and we all chatted like the big, happy, Royals family we’d become over the past couple years. Since we were at the end of the parade route, we had plenty of time to chat about the team or the amount of people attending. The above picture doesn’t tell the whole story on the attendance. There were people hanging out of windows, there were people on rooftops, there were people who climbed up in trees, there were people on top of vehicles (until the cops got them down), there were people on light poles, there were people EVERYWHERE.
Once the parade finally made its way down to our spot, of course, cell phones were out so folks could see things through their five inch frame. I will admit, some of it was necessary since you couldn’t always see around the folks with kids on their shoulders, the guy who was quite possibly seven feet tall, or the people in front of you with their cell phones out. Sometimes it felt like I was the mole in a Whack-A-Mole game as I tried to change my viewing angle. Regardless, even if you couldn’t see who was passing by, someone nearby who could see would say and that garnered ooohs & ahhhs or, more appropriately, Mooooooooose & Hozzz. This may be the closest I’ve ever come to experiencing the hive mind mentality as each time someone new passed, the crowd was abuzz. Quick aside: seeing all the players passing by with Thanks Kansas City pennants was a classy move.
Moving from parade-mode to rally-mode took a bit, but once it began… wow, just wow. When Fox Sports KC broadcaster, Ryan Lefebvre, opened with “Is this a baseball town?” the crowd erupted. We then heard from Governor Jay Nixon, Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders, Mayor Sly James (who really knew how to work the crowd), General Manger Dayton Moore, Owner David Glass, Vice President of Baseball Operations and Hall of Famer George Brett, Manager Ned Yost, and then the players took their turn. Some of the highlights I really enjoyed:
- Hearing 800k chant “Let’s Go Royals!” was chilling.
- Hearing each player expressing their love for the fans and admitting the fans fuel them when things get tough was endearing.
- Hearing Jonny Gomes, a man who didn’t see a minute of World Series action, breakdown the Royals’ success and finish with a mic drop was priceless (see below).
- Hearing Jeremy Guthrie give a behind-the-scenes look into the clubhouse as he detailed their celebratory antics was surprisingly intimate.
- Hearing Edinson Volquez admit he was so overwhelmed by the love from the crowd that he was about to cry and also asking Ned to let him pitch after the death of his father was touching.
If you’d like to watch the celebration, Fox 4 has it posted here (at least for now). The only thing that would have made this event better would be having my friends and family beside me. Oh, and in case you were wondering, as of this moment, there are 108 days until Spring Training.