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Masses of Eagles fans descend upon Philadelphia as the city's first Super Bowl parade begins

Patricia Madej

Updated: Thursday, February 8, 2018, 10:50 AM

Eagles fans on Broad Street cheer hours before the start of the Eagles Super Bowl parade on Thursday.

Philadelphia is just moments away from the start of the Eagles’ first Super Bowl parade — you can follow the Inquirer’s live coverage here — after a victory against the New England Patriots left the city in a state of utter jubilation all week.

The parade proceeds along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, in Philadelphia, Thursday, February 8, 2018. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Fireworks fly above the Philadelphia Museum of Art during the Eagles Super Bowl LII victory celebration at on Thursday, February 8, 2018. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
A view of the parade on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, in Philadelphia, Thursday, February 8, 2018. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
EaglesÕ Jason Kelce was fired-up during his speech at the Eagles Super Bowl Champions celebration at the Art Museum in Philadelphia on February 8, 2018. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
With City Hall in the background Eagle Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, left, passes the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Eagle quarterback Carson Wentz, right, to hold up during that part of the parade, while backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld, center, reaches over them both to take a photo of the huge crowd. Eagle owner Jeffrey Lurie, extreme left, takes it all in during the Eagles Super bowl Parade on Thursday February 8, 2018. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Eagle players Beau Allen and Chris Long (right) show their appreciation to their fans while riding atop a bus near City Hall during the Eagles Super Bowl Parade. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Philadelphia Eagles parade down Broad street during the Super Bowl Champions parade in South Philadelphia. Thursday, February 8, 2018. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
South Broad St. at Lombard is lined with fans as the Super Bowl winning Philadelphia Eagles motorcade makes its way north from the stadium area during the Super Bowl Champions parade. DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer
Jalen Mills, cornerback with Philadelphia Eagles greets the crowd along S. Broad St. during Super Bowl Champions Parade on Thursday, February 8, 2018. STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
The Washington Monument in Eakins Oval is pictured amid smoke from fireworks during the Eagles' Super Bowl ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Willie Cook hawks Philadelphia Inquirer newspapers during the Eagles' Super Bowl parade on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
A sea of Eagles fans stand shoulder to shoulder along N. 15th St. as seen from Cherry St. on Thursday, February 8, 2018. Fans came out to cheer their Super Bowl winning team. TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox hoists the Vince Lombardi Trophy during the Super Bowl Champions parade up S. Broad St. on Thursday, February 8, 2018. STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
Buses holding players, coaches and team staff reach the Philadelphia Museum of Art during the Eagles' Super Bowl parade on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Thousands watch the Super Bowl LII champion Philadelphia Eagles Parade Thursday February 8, DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer
Eagles fan Ada Tate 28, from Overbrook section Philadelphia screams as thousands walk west on Market street towards 30th street Station after the Eagles Parade, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photograp
Eagles fan Reggie Hylick, waves his eagles flag, hours before the start of the Eagles Super Bowl Champions parade on Broad St. in South Philadelphia. Thursday, February 8, 2018. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Philadelphia Eagles fans take photos with their cell phones during the Super Bowl Champions parade in South Philadelphia. Thursday, February 8, 2018. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Thousands watch the Super Bowl LII champion Philadelphia Eagles Parade, Thursday February 8, 2018. DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer
Thousands watch the Super Bowl LII champion Philadelphia Eagles Parade Thursday February 8, 2018. DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, right, and executive VP Howie Roseman walk along the parade route with the Lombardi trophy during the Super Bowl LII victory parade, Thursday, Feb 8, 2018, in Philadelphia. AP Photo / Michael Perez
Thousands watch the Super Bowl LII champion Philadelphia Eagles Parade Thursday February 8, 2018. DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer
Buses holding players, coaches and team staff reach the Philadelphia Museum of Art during the Eagles' Super Bowl parade on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Philadelphia Eagles fans gather in S. Philadelphia for the Super Bowl Champions parade up S. Broad St. to Philadelphia Art Museum on Thursday, February 8, 2018. STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
Philadelphia Eagles NFL football team mascot Swoop waves during the Super Bowl LII victory parade, Thursday, Feb 8, 2018, in Philadelphia. AP Photo / Michael Perezr
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson holds up the Vince Lombardi trophy during the Super Bowl LII victory parade, Thursday, Feb 8, 2018, in Philadelphia. AP Photo / Michael Perez
Eagles fan Joseph Carotozzola, walks around before the start of the Eagles Super Bowl Champions parade on Broad St. in South Philadelphia. Thursday, February 8, 2018. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Eagles fans cheer near Philadelphia City Hall before the start of the Eagles Super Bowl LII victory parade through Center City Philadelphia after starting near the stadium in S. Philadelphia on Thursday, February 8, 2018. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles president Don Smolenski (left) holds up the Lombardi Trophy as the Eagles Super Bowl victory parade passes City Hall February 8, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Kevin Edwards, of Bristol PA wears his underdog mask while celebrating the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl LII victory in Minneapolis. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Thousands watch the Super Bowl LII champion Philadelphia Eagles Parade Thursday February 8, 2018 DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer
Philadelphia Eagles fans cheer across from the Philadelphia Art Museum many hours before the start of the Super Bowl Champions parade in Philadelphia on Thursday, February 8, 2018. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Eagles fan Michael Rahn from West Chester, Pa., wearing his dog mask with a Chewbacca costume, hours before the start of the Eagles Super Bowl Champions parade on S. Broad St. on Thursday morning, February 8, 2018. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Eagle fan Christine Williams of Levittown, PA near Philadelphia City Hall. She and her family arrived around 6:00 a.m., Thursday morning to stake out their spot along the parade route to cheer their Super Bowl Champion, Philadelphia Eagles. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Fans cross the Ben Franklin Bridge into Philadelphia before 8 a.m. on the morning of the Eagles� Super Bowl parade in Center City. TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Philadelphia Eagle fans cross JFK Blvd at 15th Street on their way down to the Ben Franklin Parkway at 6:30 am Thursday February 8 2018 in anticipation of the Eagles, Super Bowl Champions parade. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Overhead view of S. Broad St. in Center City Philadelphia as the motorcade of Philadelphia Eagles makes its way north from S. Philadelphia in route to main platform in front of Philadelphia Art Museum. The city of Philadelphia and region came out to celebrate during the Super Bowl Champions parade on Thursday, February 8, 2018. DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photograph
Fans sit atop a garbage truck near Love Park before the Eagles' Super Bowl parade on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Eagles fans climb atop a statue across from Philadelphia City Hall before the Eagles' Super Bowl parade on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Thousands walk west on Market street towards 30th street Station after the Eagles Parade, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
Fans cheer before the Eagles' Super Bowl parade on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Max Farren of Tampa, who flew in this morning to see the parade, wears an Eagles cape before the Eagles' Super Bowl parade on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Eagles fans carries a child on his shoulders while walking through the crowd before the Eagles' Super Bowl parade on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Maggie Dooley, 11, of Northeast Philadelphia, sports a green wig as she awaits the motorcade of players during the Super Bowl Champions parade on Thursday. TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Eagle fans decided to climb on top of one of the city garbage trucks that was parked at Broad and Arch to get a better look at the Eagle Super Bowl Parade on Thursday February 8, 2018. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Member of the Eagles march down the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art during the Super Bowl LII victory celebration on Thursday, February 8, 2018. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles strong safety Malcolm Jenkins holds the Lombardi Trophy on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art during the Super Bowl LII victory celebration on Thursday, February 8, 2018. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagle fans wanting to get a better look at the Eagles Super Bowl Parade as it came around city hall on Thursday February 8, 2018, decided to climb atop the bus shelters on JFK Blvd , across from Dilworth Plaza. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
A skywriter spells out one of the many Eagle catchphrases that fans have used in their Super Bowl run, on the day of the Eagles Super Bowl Parade, Thursday, February 8, 2018. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Fans cheer as the Eagles victory parade goes by City Hall on Feb. 8, 2018, celebrating their victory in Super Bowl LII. CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Eagles mascot Swoop leads the team buses up South Broad Street as the Eagles Super Bowl victory parade passes City Hall February 8, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Confetti falls on the crowd during the Eagles' Super Bowl ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. TIM TAI / Staff Photographer TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Photo Gallery: Fans gather to celebrate Super Bowl victory at Eagles Parade

Thousands gathered along the Parkway shortly before the start of the parade at 11 a.m., trickling in along the parade route since Wednesday night. For some who say they’ve waited a lifetime for this moment, getting up a little extra early was no big deal.

Groups were heard shouting the “Eagles” chant while beer and orange juice were flowing at 5 a.m. The line at the Wawa at 20th and Hamilton streets, near the museum, had a line wrapped around the block by 6 a.m. And by 8 a.m., lines to the bathrooms at the restaurants near Broad Street and Snyder Avenue snaked through the buildings and out the doors.

By 9 a.m., crowds were swelling with no signs of stopping. Some climbed trees along the Parkway to grab a closer look.

“It’s a bird’s nest,” Matt Hugel, 19, of Pennsauken, called down.

Thousands of fans head up the Parkway to the Art Museum for the Eagles Super Bowl LII 2018 victory parade in Phila., Pa. on Feb. 8, 2018

The excitement and crowds grew in tandem as fans neared the parade’s start.

Mickey Durkin, of Bensalem, took advantage of the slightly less crowded Locust Street, between Broad and 15th streets to play a few quick games of football with his two children and two neighbors. As they threw long passes and sprinted down the street, they dodged crowds of parade-goers flooding toward Broad. Intermittently, Durkin would pause and shout, “E-A-G-L-E-S!” and a chorus of parade-goers along Broad would echo in response.

“It’s about family today,” Durkin said. He and his kids spent the night in the city to avoid any traffic headaches. “It’s about all these generations who have never had a win finally coming together.”

His son, Sonny, is only 11 years old, but the morning excitement was not lost on him either.

“It’s the best day of my life,” Sonny said. “I can’t wait to see all of the players.”

His 9-year-old friend and neighbor, Brian McGinty, was in full agreement, too.

“It’s the most amazingest day,” McGinty said. “I’m going to tell my grandkids about it.”

Mickey Durkin, of Bensalem, stakes out some empty street on Broad and Locust Streets to play a quick game of football with his two kids and two neighbors. pic.twitter.com/GYTCuYAs25

>> READ MORE: How to get into (and out of) Philly by train, subway, car for the Eagles parade

Michael Merlini, 39 of Oreland, Pa., was in the food court of the Lit Brothers building at 8th and Market streets around 7 a.m. in his pajamas, dishing out Munchkins from Boston-based Dunkin’ Donuts to four kids who were also in pajamas with messy hair.

“Yeah, we slept here,” Merlini said.

Merlini’s father has a real estate office a few floors up and to beat the trains and any traffic, a whole crew bunked overnight there. Two of the kids belonged to his friend upstairs and the giant “Box O’ Joe” belonged to the adults.

Moombi Pressley, 45, of Mount Airy, woke up early fueled up on cult-favorite Wawa coffee to get as close to the Art Museum steps as possible.

“That’s the only way to do it,” Pressley said.

Line at the Wawa at 21st and Hamilton goes outside and down the block #eaglesparade pic.twitter.com/HgmTlCsqoy

Getting out the door in the middle of the night was a common theme for those trying to grab the best positions possible.

>> READ MORE: Going to the parade? Here’s our guide to food, drinks, weather and what to expect on the route

Steve Buckner, 29 of Pottstown, woke up at 2 a.m. to make his way to the museum with a group of friends.

“We’ve been waiting our whole lives for this moment,” he said. “It felt like we were dreaming when we saw the Super Bowl, still feels like we are dreaming.”

While many schools and businesses gave their employees and students a day off, others had to call out.

Brian Spreen and James Hartman, of York and Lancaster, respectively, were two of those people. But it didn’t seem to be a problem for their employer.

“My boss gets football,” Spreen said.

Rich Fioravanti, 54, a brick mason from New Castle, Del., said there was no question he would take off from work. He found a spot by the Art Museum well before the sun rose.

“I’ve been waiting 50 years for this,” he said. Fioravanti came with his two sons and was enjoying a “big boy” cigar until the parade.

“I wouldn’t have missed this for the world,” he said.

>> READ MORE: Your phone might not work in Center City today; parade will ‘challenge’ Philly’s network

But the party wasn’t only along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway — many found a spot along Broad Street as well, where buzzing helicopters and cars honking made it clear that today was not any other Thursday.

Christine Williams of Levittown, Pa. has found her spot on the parade route at City Hall. She and her family arrived at 6:00 a.m. but they are too happy about the cold this early in the morning. The Philadelphia Eagles hold their Super Bowl Parade down Broad Street on Feb. 8, 2018.

One fan, Andrew Timmons, slathered on Kelly green face paint and parked himself at Broad Street and Pattison Avenue at midnight.

Bob Hepper — with his daughter, Jane, and a coworker, Bill Miller — waited for the sun to come up over South Broad Street. They arrived Wednesday night from near King of Prussia and slept in cars.

“Our job let us have off,” Miller said. “But I was going regardless.”

After its 11 a.m. start near AT&T Station in South Philly, the parade will continue up to City Hall before making its way onto the Parkway and Art Museum between noon and 12:30 p.m.

Staff writers Jason Nark, Claudia Vargas, Amy Rosenberg, Tommy Rowan, Caitlin McCabe, Samantha Melamed and Allison Steele contributed reporting.

Patricia Madej

Read full story: Masses of Eagles fans descend upon Philadelphia as the city's first Super Bowl parade begins