I live near Seattle and, as you may have heard, our local (American) football team won the big game, the “world championship” of football called the Superbowl. Sure, we don’t invite anyone from outside of this country to play, and football is a game with some fundamental issues that I will discuss some other time (yeah, I know this isn’t a sports blog, and no, I don’t actually care much about sports, but I do care about brain injuries and the way people divert attention when they’re doing something wrong, so I care about this sports story). Anyway, the Seahawks won the Superbowl, and it was the first time since the team began, and only the 2nd time that they made it to the final game (the last time some bad refereeing cost us the game), and our team is very young with an underrated 2nd year quarterback. This win was not expected. And did I mention they trounced the team led by probably the best quarterback of all time?
(In case you were wondering, no we did not go to the game. It was in New Jersey, and tickets cost $2000-3000 each!)
Seattle arranged a big victory parade for Wednesday. And I didn’t have anything else to do, and it was a beautiful, if frigid, day so I thought, why not go?
I headed down to the ferry at the usual time to get the 9:45 boat over to Seattle. I didn’t mind the idea of a full boat. But I “misunderestimated” the situation. As I walked down the hill I met a number of people in Seahawks colors walking the other way. One of them asked me if I was heading into the city. He told me the line was a mile long and there was no way I’d make it. I thanked him for telling me (especially since no one else had bothered) and said I would keep going, just to see the crowds if nothing else.
It’s easier to keep a good attitude when you haven’t built up the plan in your mind. If you don’t really care. It’s easier to have an adventure when the sun is shining and your day is wide open in front of you.
I kept walking downtown and shared the bad news with other people as I went, especially the group of young people about to pay for all day parking. (do unto others, right?) I got downtown and saw the line, many people deep, curling around up towards the condos on the waterfront. It looked pretty bad. Then I saw that the line didn’t run straight, but dipped down one street and back up the other side, before continuing along the road and around the corner and along and around and…
Wow! I had never seen this many people in town, ever. I chatted with a few other people in line, sharing the news I had heard and listening to what other people had heard. The 9:45 boat was already full with people waiting since 7 or 8, they said. It was 9:30 and the next boat was scheduled for 11:10. The parade was due to start at 11:30, but the boat wouldn’t reach Seattle until 12:10. Oh well, I wasn’t really going to see the parade anyway. I was more interested in seeing the people seeing the parade, and soaking in some of the amazing energy and happiness that everyone was feeling.
The line worked its way along the street, and then we walked down the street and started back up the other side. I think we were only moving because so many people were giving up and going home. Did I mention that it was below freezing? A bit breezy too – they said the wind chill was 18 degrees – that’s really very cold for us! And people were trying to guess whether they would actually be allowed onto the next boat or if there were too many people ahead of us in line.
I had a moment of disappointment when I realized I had forgotten my kindle. That was a major part of my survival plan. But by this time I had already considered that I might just hang out in line and enjoy the atmosphere and not actually go into Seattle.
I chatted with a lady who had a great handpainted Seahawks manicure. She let me take a picture to post on instagram, and we chatted on and off about this and that. I was chatting with anyone nearby, a group which changed as the line flowed on and people gave up. People were generally cheerful (except when talking about the ferry system). A few people were wondering if they should have gone in to work after all, or if they should try driving around to Seattle, or if they’d be better off at home. People talked about how cold it was, and celebrated when the local credit union started handing out free cups of coffee. Every so often a cheer would go up from the front of the crowd – who knows why?
Some people nearby talked about how worried they were about getting to work. They weren’t going to the parade. They were trying to get to jobs that they couldn’t call in to, couldn’t work from home on. Not just that, but they needed to cross the parade route to get to their jobs once they finally got to Seattle, and one man got word from his friend that a 20 minute walk had taken 2 hours through the crowds. I felt bad for those people.
Stories were coming out about just how long the lines were. One of the earlier ferries had left with 1076 people on board, at capacity, with another 600+ people left behind. These are commuter boats, by the way, usually quite full of passengers going to jobs in Seattle. 19,000 people took the ferries on Wednesday, and a good many of them were not going to the parade.
The rumor went through the crowd that all the tickets home were sold out until 11pm. I wasn’t sure how that could be because there aren’t assigned seats and you don’t buy tickets for a specific sailing, but at that point I decided that I wasn’t going to go into Seattle and risk getting stuck over there. It wasn’t worth it. But I stayed with the crowd, waiting in line.
For me, that line was my parade.
I was having fun chatting with strangers, enjoying the happy vibes, instagramming the event, and chatting with friends online about what was going on. When the people from the Admiral Theater came by to tell us that they would screen the parade for free I decided that I would head over there when the ferry loaded. I was going to wait and watch everybody finally get on the boat, but by that time my feet were quite numb and I felt silly moving towards the front of the line when I wasn’t going to board the boat, so I said good bye and good luck to the people I had been standing with, and headed up to the theater.
The Admiral is an interesting spot. It has been restored to its 1930s glory and hosts comedians, children’s concerts, musical events, movie singalongs (I went to Grease there last year), stunt dogs, and apparently, Superbowl parties. They had over 300 people to watch the game on the big screen the Sunday before. A dozen or so families took advantage of the heating, free hot chocolate, $2 popcorn and hotdogs, and bar when their parade plans were foiled. I wished it had been better publicized in advance so that more people had come. It would have been great to watch with a big enthusiastic crowd. As it was, the news reporters were boring and tiresome and after a while people started leaving in dribs and drabs to go home. I headed out and watched the remainder of the event at home.
As it turned out, somewhere between 700,000 and a million other people came out to celebrate. In a city of 600,000. I would have loved to be there. If I had lived in Seattle I would have been excited to see such a special, crazy day. 13,500 kids and 550 teachers called in “sick” in Seattle city alone. People had a horrible time getting into and out of the city. Police were called in from all over the region to help manage the crowds. But nothing bad happened, nobody was arrested. (There were a few incidents the night of the game, but so many Seattleites were only partying in the streets when the cross signals said “walk” that the internet was abuzz with #HowSeattleRiots jokes.) It was a special day and I would have liked to be there in Seattle, but in the end it didn’t matter.
I had a great day! Even though I was alone, even though I couldn’t follow through with my plans, even though I was pretty darn cold, I enjoyed the sun, and I enjoyed doing something completely different than anything I had done before. It was a day to remember, even without going to the parade.
Sometimes the difference between a bad day and an adventure is your attitude.
That’s the lesson I need to remember when things go wrong.
Thanks for reading my long story!
bye for now,