An estimated 800,000 Royals fans came out to celebrate their beloved boys in blue, Tuesday – an impressive number given the city’s population is only 470,000.
In case you missed it – the Kansas City Royals won the World Series Sunday, beating the Mets by a score of 7-2 after 11 innings.
The last World Series win for the Royals happened in 1985 – 30 years ago! In the decades following that win, the Royals sort of lost their zip. Year after year, the team ended up at the bottom of the MLB standings – the stadium nearly empty for most their games. Those were 30 long, dry years for a city that loves baseball.
The tide began to turn for the Royals in 2013. That year, the team finally won more games than they lost and came in third in their division. That was a huge improvement for them. In 2014, they made it to the play-offs by the skin of their teeth in the wildest of Wild Card games. And they almost went all the way – losing to San Francisco in the 9th inning of the 7th World Series game.
This year, they beat the Mets in 5 games.
Long suffering Royals fans are ecstatic – and so are those of us who lost interest in baseball during those dry years. The city is united in their love and appreciation of this amazing team and everyone wanted to come to the victory parade on Tuesday to celebrate.
The kids were even off school because of election day. So it was a perfect storm for the ultimate turnout.
I headed toward downtown with my teenage daughter shortly after 9:00 for the parade that was set to start at noon. The parade route was the 2.3 mile stretch between the starting point at the downtown Power and Light District, down Grand Ave to Union Station.
I naively thought that I would be able to park in either the Union Station or Crown Center parking garages, as I *thought* I was getting a good start, but it soon became obvious that that was a fool’s errand. As soon as I turned onto 71 heading into the city, it was bumper to bumper, barely moving traffic. Luckily I know my way around town pretty well, so I decided to try an alternative route. No way was I going to stay on 71 at that rate, so I got off on Hickman Mills and took Troost north toward the city. Traffic was heavy – but we were moving. As I got onto Main Street and headed North through the Plaza, I could see that a large number of Royals fans had already parked their cars at the Plaza, to walk the rest of the way to Union Station – more than 20 blocks away!
I thought I could do better, and finally settled on a spot about ten blocks away from Union Station – but further away from our final destination – which was at the beginning of the parade route where my other daughter was. She and some friends had gotten a room for the night at the Downtown Hilton. Smart thinking, all things considered.
My commute from Lee’s Summit to Crown center usually takes about a half an hour. Yesterday it took over an hour. But we did better than a lot of folks.
It took some people hours to travel a few miles into downtown. Some even abandoned their cars to walk to the parade route.
KCTV5 video showed cars along Interstate 35 that people had dumped to walk to Union Station. It looked like an apocalypse with the abandoned cars and the thousands of people herding towards the parade route.
Kevin Hanson and his family listened to Monday’s advice from the Kansas City Sports Commission to carpool and arrive early.
“I’ve been here since 6 a.m. standing right here. Had one glass of water and I won’t tell you where the rest of it went, but I’m having an awesome time,” Hanson said.
6:00 a.m. Are you keeding me? Dude.
A lot of people were relying on public transportation to get downtown for the festivities. Each location for the free shuttle pick-ups had lines that stretched around blocks. At the Olathe, KS, location, hundreds if not thousands of eager fans waited for a seat on one of the buses.
“We live in Bonner Springs so this was the closest as opposed to driving all the way downtown. We figured it’d be easier this way,” James Lawson said.
When some were tired of the long lines or the long wait times or were turned away, they gave up and either chose alternate means or went home.
“We’ve never done this before, obviously. We had no idea what to expect. We only have a certain number of buses, we ran our normal schedule today,” said Shawn Strate with KCATA.
In retrospect, I think we did extremely well.
After parking, we began our long walk down Main Street toward the parade area. There were many people – hundreds of them – doing the same thing.
This was at around 10:30 a.m. The parade was beginning on the other end of town (where the tall buildings are) at 12:00.
Outside Crown Center, we walked into a massive throng of people. All of a sudden we were packed like sardines and could see nothing but people clad in blue in all directions. We needed to get through that to meet up with my other daughter and friends about eight more blocks away. But we couldn’t seem to budge. Very gradually we pushed our way through the crowd until it had thinned out enough that we had room to walk. We headed toward McGee – which runs parallel to Grand, to walk to the beginning of the parade route.
It was impossible to get onto Grand because the crowd was too thick. On McGee, there were several food vendors set up and even though they were off the parade route, they were doing brisk business. We decided to resist temptation and keep walking.
There were a lot of people who – like us – were walking North on McGee to find the perfect spot on the parade route.
We finally settled on 16th and Grand because we couldn’t get cell service to make calls or even text Lizzy to find out exactly where to meet up. We caught up with them after the parade.
We watched the victory rally – which was held at Union Station – on a big screen TV at the Downtown Hilton Drum Room.
Our hands down favorite speech was from a new Royal who didn’t get to play any post season games, but still contributed mightily to the team, Jonny Gomes:
You can read my write-up on Gomes – an American original – at PJ Media.
Here are some sights and sounds from the parade (that I took on my iphone):