Ryan Matlack/The Student
We awoke at 5:30 a.m. and were on the road by six. Driving through Hartford and New Haven was a breeze, accompanied only by the typical nine-to-five commuters. At 8:15 a.m., we exited interstate 95 in Fairfield and traded the road for the rail. The ride into New York took roughly an hour, and my fellow fan, Nate Gaetano, and I arrived at Grand Central Station. After a mad scramble for subway tickets, we boarded the number four train and took a 20-minute trip to the tip of Manhattan, the starting point for the New York Giants Championship Parade. We finally found a decent viewing point at around 10:45 a.m. The parade started at 11. We were back on the train by noon.
After roughly five hours of traveling, we spent 50 minutes spectating. So what was our final analysis of the sacrifice made to witness Big Blue traveling through the Canyon of Heroes? It was worth it.
It was my first parade, excluding of course the small-town Christmas parades I witnessed as a child. Sure there was no Santa, but linebacker Chase Blackburn’s fantastic goatee filled the facial hair void. It’s different than the game. A parade allows you to share the championship. While you take photos and videos for the men on floats, they are pointing iPads and phones out at you, doing the same exact thing. As SC senior Jen Crowther explained, the fan is given a chance to relate to the players they worshipped all season long.
“Its weird because you’re seeing them like a normal person. They’re not all geared up, [so] you don’t recognize them,” explained Crowther, who attended the game with Springfield senior Elayna Roberts and an entourage of family members. “It’s pretty cool. You watch them all the time, and then they are 20 feet away from you.”
Having lived in New England for my entire life, I have seen neighbors and friends migrate south to Boston for a championship celebration. This became a regular happening as we entered the new millennium. It is rarely an easy spectacle to attend. They usually occur on a weekday, when most fans are in school or at the office. Like this parade, only a few days separate the game from the tickertape, so there is limited time to prepare for your trip into the city. Nate and I left Springfield with a rough idea of the Metro North line and nothing more. However, regret ends up being more feared than getting lost in Harlem. No one is impressed if they hear you almost went to the parade.
According to Crowther, who attended the Yankees celebration in 2009, this year was more enjoyable.
“I liked this one more; I was closer to the route, so we were able to see everything,” reminisced the senior. “Yesterday, I think people were more excited.”
As we ventured further into the tri-state area, it became clear that we made the right decision. The sea of blue and red was a welcomed site for two fans that have lived in Western Mass. for the entire season. On New York’s sports-talk station the Boomer & Carton show played “We Beat Tom Brady” to the tune of the Tom Jones’ hit, “She’s a Lady.” Inside the office buildings bordering the parade route, the only task on hand was the shredding of paper, all used to shower on the crowds below.
Eli Manning looked like he was ready to take a nap. Punter Steve Weatherford strapped on a helmet and began wailing on a marching band drum. Tom Coughlin smiled for the first time ever.
It became clear why it was so rewarding to see the floats roll by firsthand. Our route to the parade was just as bumpy as the Giants’ route to an NFL championship. However, the rise from 7-7 to a fourth Lombardi Trophy made the ride all that more exciting.
“Half the thrill is just winging the trip in,” commented Gaetano. “You just make it work because who knows when this will happen again.”
Ryan Matlack may be reached at email@example.com