You’ve been feeling it, right?
Throughout the day, you’ve had adrenaline jolts, a quickening heart rate.
The signs are obvious: This is not a normal Sunday.
So much of life is bland and predictable, a series of Cream of Wheat days that listlessly follow one another into beige perpetuity.
But this Sunday feels electric and apart.
When the Eagles play the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl tonight, folks around here will share one of the most intense communal experiences in city history — millions of disparate people united in a common mania.
How many bust-out days are there, really, in life? A half-dozen? Ten? Thirty years from now, people will be able to describe how the pizza tasted today.
Around town, as people moved through their Sunday, a few were doubtless contemplating what a win might feel like, and how long the buzz from something like that could last.
Others may have been wondering wistfully about a deceased father or grandfather who would have been happy to see the Eagles take this one.
And, yes, there were certainly pessimists staring at the rain, thinking too much about Patriots quarterback Tom Brady: that poise, that wife, that thing he does around midway in the fourth quarter that alters games and crushes the psyches of other teams and the municipalities they represent.
But the hours before the game are not for pessimists.
Now it’s true that Philadelphia famously manufactures self-doubt and negativity like Butterscotch Krimpets. So it behooves us to tamp down any candle-dousing feelings of doom before the game today, and to spend our time visualizing Nick Foles smiting defenders like the god he nearly is.
As the day progressed, people searched for communion with their saints and their bartenders.
Seeking help from the divine Sunday morning at the Resurrection of Our Lord Church in Rhawnhurst, the Revs. James DeGrassa and Tom Gallagher blessed the throats of parishioners during the congregation’s 8:30 a.m. Super Bowl Mass.
Sunday is the Feast of Saint Blaise, the patron saint of throats and throat illnesses, and Father DeGrassa hopes that the blessing will help his parishioners cheer louder — and curse less.
Managing their conflicting emotions with grace, congregants of Transform Church, which meets at West Philadelphia High School, avoided trash talk on the Sabbath. Adrienne Carter, an Eagles fan from West Philadelphia, walked up to Andrew Chaput, a Patriots fan from Cherry Hill, and asked, “Should I hug you today?” Then, she answered her own question: “Of course I will. You’re a member of our church and I love you anyway.”
In a more secular moment, people began gathering outside Misconduct Tavern near 15th and Locust Streets well before 9 a.m. Sunday to be ready for the bar to open at 10:30 a.m. “We have friends scoping out McGillin’s [Olde Ale House], too,” said Alexa Hoffman, 24. “We wanted a good atmosphere and we wanted to be close to Broad Street.”
The calm before the storm inside McGillin's. They're all sold out, folks. pic.twitter.com/z3NKetoRg8
— Caitlin McCabe (@mccabe_caitlin) February 4, 2018
What was the plan? Dash to grab the biggest table and as many chairs as possible, said 24-year-old Marissa Dow. She and her group expected to have between 12 and 15 watching with them in total. But they’ll keep the drinking in check early on.
“The biggest mistake that Eagles fans will make today,” Dow said, is “drinking too early.”
Days like Super Bowl Sunday compel people to call on resources they didn’t even know they had.
When 25-year-old Emily Le woke up Sunday, she knew exactly what she had to do. She donned the same exact shirt and jeans she wore two weeks ago when the Eagles won the NFC championship – and even painted her nails the same color. This day is too big, she said, to take any chances.
Then, at 8 a.m., her phone buzzed: Her friends were in line at McGillin’s, they said. Sixty others were already there. If Emily wanted to get a wristband for the game, she would have to come quickly, they said.
For those in town not angling for space in bars, dressing for the big game became a priority.
Fans were mobbing Modell’s on Chestnut Street — as they have for the past two weeks — to grab up jerseys, said assistant manager Tom Pirring. Demand has been outstripping supply, he added: “We’re getting more stuff in, just not fast enough.”
The store was set to close at 7 p.m. Sunday, but will reopen after the game if the Eagles win.
It seemed like much of Philly was on the move during the day Sunday, trying to get somewhere great to watch the game — and hopefully celebrate afterward.
At 2 p.m. at Elkins Park train station in Cheltenham Township, a dozen people in Eagles gear waited to hop a train downtown –as an announcement blared that a later train to Center City was being canceled because of a crew shortage. Nobody paid much attention. And sure enough, the scheduled train pulled up just a few minutes late, almost every seat taken by people decked out in midnight green. People piled aboard and headed on to parties, fan gatherings and bars.
PATCO trains into Center City were standing-room-only.
Meanwhile, in what is fast becoming a Philadelphia tradition, police were out doing what they’ve lately become nationally famous for: greasing city poles to dissuade climbing. Initially, officers used Crisco; they’ve since switched to hydraulic fluid.
"Last week we were the Crisco Cops. Now we're the Pole Patrol," Philly police officers tell me as they roll gear oil onto lightposts on Broad Street. pic.twitter.com/SS21c8iYjT
— Samantha Melamed (@samanthamelamed) February 4, 2018
Two officers who said they couldn’t give their names guessed that they’d greased some 100 poles up and down Broad Street.
“We were the Crisco Cops,” one of them said. “Now we’re the Pole Patrol.”
Read more on Eagles fans in Minneapolis here.
Staff writers Jeff Gammage, Kristin Holmes, Caitlin McCabe, and Samantha Melamed contributed to this article.