About a week before the Philadelphia Eagles won Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4, Fred Stein received an important phone call from Eagles representatives.
“They said, ‘Look, we are superstitious, we don’t want to announce anything,’” Stein said. “They were either going to have a parade, or they would still have something to celebrate the fact that they were Super Bowl contenders.”
Stein, a 1972 communications alumnus, is the executive producer of The Creative Group, a special events production and planning firm based in Philadelphia. He runs the company with his son Neil Stein, a 2004 master’s of broadcast, telecommunications and mass media alumnus.
The Creative Group event producers were the main architects behind the Eagles’ Super Bowl Parade earlier this month. During the last 30 years, Stein has helped plan some of the biggest events in Philadelphia, including the Philadelphia Phillies World Series parade in 2008 and the Philadelphia 76ers championship parade in 1983.
Beginning at 11 a.m. on Feb. 8, more than a dozen buses carrying Eagles players, cheerleaders and coaches traveled from Broad Street and Pattison Avenue to City Hall before heading west on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. They stopped at the Art Museum for a final ceremony around 1 p.m.
As the tour buses paraded down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, green and white confetti rained down upon the players, the road and most importantly the fans, Stein said.
Stein said he wanted to make sure the recent Eagles parade was memorable for fans in attendance and those watching from home.
“At the museum, I had eight trucks with confetti cannons lining the parkway, so people that were at Logan Circle felt like they weren’t just watching on TV,” he said.
Stein said the other championship parades he planned in the past had simple routes: starting at the South Philadelphia Sports Complex and traveling north on Broad Street. But the Eagles wanted a different route.
“And it wasn’t because of Rocky or the Rocky steps,” Stein said. “It was because the Art Museum itself is iconic Philadelphia, but more importantly, more people could participate.”
Because the area around the Art Museum and Logan Circle is more open than Broad Street, an estimated 700,000 people could come to watch the ceremony.
“I had never seen so many beer cans in my life,” Stein said. “It was so amazing coming out there Thursday night looking at what we were doing. By Friday morning, the street was open.”
Stein said he credits the success of the parade to the city. He also hopes the success and publicity isn’t credited to him, but to the Eagles.
This parade was much different than other events Stein had planned in the past because of the quick turnaround, he said.
“We were sworn to secrecy [about parade plans], so we couldn’t plan a month out,” he said.
But the idea of working on the fly is not entirely new to Stein. After graduating from Temple, he worked for the city government, running City Councilman At-Large Al Pearlman’s office from 1976 to 1980.
He notes one of his record times for handling a city issue was fixing a pothole in 12 minutes, from the time he got the call to the time it was filled.
Stein became deputy managing director of the City of Philadelphia in 1981. While working in the city office, he was tasked with planning the 300th anniversary of Philadelphia in 1982. The celebration included organizing a film festival in actress and Philadelphia native Grace Kelly’s honor, which brought celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope to the city.
“That was one of the 120 events [I planned] in my first year,” Stein said. “You are getting all the experience on the fly.”
After his first foray in event planning, he started The Creative Group in 1984. Since then, he has planned hundreds of events like the opening of the Barnes Foundation, the closing of the Wachovia Spectrum — which was the former home of the Philadelphia Flyers and Sixers — and the opening of the Apollo of Temple, now known as the Liacouras Center, in 1997.
That was the first event he produced for Temple. It was commissioned by then-President Peter Liacouras. His success with the event led to a longstanding relationship with the Fox School of Business.
For 21 years, Stein and The Creative Group have been tasked with organizing the ceremony for Fox’s Musser Award for Excellence in Research event, which recognizes a faculty member each year.
“Fred’s attention to detail continues to impress me,” said Moshe Porat, the dean of the Fox School of Business.
To honor one award recipient who loved diner food, Stein created a head table that resembled a diner booth with vinyl seating, Porat said.
When Stein thinks back to the excitement around how the Eagles parade unfolded, he remembers more of the little things that the company didn’t plan, like Eagles player Jason Kelce caught on video riding a police bike.
“[It was things] like the players getting off the busses and meeting with fans…that made the whole event better,” Stein said. “I have been very fortunate in my career to do once-in-a-lifetime events multiple times.”