Excused or unexcused – my kids were going to the Seahawks parade.
I was 8 when the Broncos had their first Super Bowl sendoff parade through downtown Denver. And I remember the insane adoration my family, my street (Bronco Road), school, entire city had for that team. The similarities to this Seahawk season are crazy: a notorious nicknamed defense, the loudest stadium and most fervent fans, a Friday unwritten dress code at school, edging out their Bay Area rival at home for the AFC championship . . . my Washington-raised kids have been reliving my childhood.
My dad had to work that day, so my mom took us downtown to celebrate. I remember running up to the convertibles with my brothers to get players’ autographs: Haven Moses, Lyle Alzado, Randy Gradishar . . . I went looking to see if schools were officially let out for the 1978 “Orange Crush Day” and never got the facts, but I found this:
“Denver should have gotten the Nobel Peace Prize that year,” Haven Moses says. “There was more done that year to bring people together than I’ve ever seen in my life. It transformed the attitudes of this city.”
Just like Seattle, 36 years later. . . only this time, the hometown heroes won it all.
I get why school wasn’t cancelled for the Seattle Seahawks victory parade. People had to work, I appreciate that. But for my family, it was worth dropping everything to go — and they even learned a few things:
- What it means to peacefully assemble. Mass gatherings on the news and in movies always seem to end in destruction or violence. But Seattle proved you don’t have to fear of the worst, you don’t have to destroy things to celebrate, and that policemen not only ensure safety and enforce boundaries, but they will also give you “how much longer” updates when all the smart phones fail.
- That patience pays off. Standing in the freezing cold for six hours is a long time when you have nothing to do but carve out your space on the sidewalk. But the long wait eventually became a fantastic front row seat – #worthit. (Here, my Washington native husband adds, “We waited 39 years!” Also, friends make time go by faster and you whine less.)
- Plan ahead, go early, dress warm, bring snacks, and take a pen – better yet, just trust your parents. My husband is the king of prepared, so we endured the groggy grumbles and took a ferry to Seattle at dawn. And let’s just say the children who listened to me about layers were happier than the one who refused to wear sweats under his jeans. On the other hand, they were right about the pen – “It’s not the 70’s mom, you can’t just run up to cars.”
- What pot smells like, and more importantly, that mom and dad know what pot smells like. (speaking of the 70’s)
- What a hero’s welcome is. It’s in literature, in history, in movies, but we don’t get to see this level of mass unrestrained, joyful enthusiasm often in real life.
- What a “mass of humanity” means. When you live in a town of 9,000 people, your physical concept of population is limited. When the kids hear “hundreds of thousands of people” were affected by a natural disaster, or famine, or war, they’re going to have some context for it.
- That you can be kind but firm even in the midst of chaos. For every rude line cutter, there was a gracious grandma like the one next to us. “We’ve gotta remember it’s for the kids,” she’d say nice and loud to shovers. “You ain’t standing in front of them.”
- That generosity generates loyalty. Here’s my shout out to the staff of Bartell’s on the corner of 4th and Madison who welcomed a whole lot of people into their store who just to wanted to get warm and use their bathroom. Thank you! After an hour in that line, my youngest knows not only what kind of dental care items we need — but where we will buy them.
- That even superstars are human – and it’s beautiful when they’re humble. Anyone close enough to see their faces knows the Seahawks were as delighted by the crowd as we were by them. And Warren Moon – hanging out the window of the Duck with all the childish delight you hear on the radio . . . I had tears.
- What total unity and community feels like. For a historic moment in time, nearly a million people had one happy heart and purpose. Oh yeah, everybody was feeling the love.
- That it’s possible to survive without a cell phone. Our batteries died, we split up to get to the ferry home (#WSF #ftw), split up again to find the one who went to the bathroom and got lost in the sea of people in the terminal, and somehow managed to make it home together.
- That parents are still in charge of their kids. Sometimes, it feels like everyone has authority over our kids but us. Every now and then the kids need to know dad and mom are still the boss of them, and if they want to take them out of school for a moment of history, it’s going to happen.
My family moved away from Denver in the summer of 1978 and we never moved back. But that magical season has stayed with me the way I know this one will with my boys. We won’t sit down with this list like it’s homework. (I can hear them now . . . “Mom! Stop! You’re ruining it!”) But if anyone happens to be assigned an essay about the value of the parade — just the sort of joy-sucking assignment I may have given once upon a time — I figured I’d save them the pain of dissecting a beautiful day. Just print this out and give it to your teacher.
Marshawn Lynch hit Calvin with this Skittle…And everyone’s phone died before we could get pictures of Richard Sherman, but his smile wins — well, after Calvin’s.
Addendum: my mom read this post, and she says we skipped school back in ’78, too.