“It’s a tough night to be a cop,” a Philadelphia Police officer said. “But it’s a great night to be a Philadelphian. As long as nothing gets out of hand, I’m willing to let people celebrate.”
Mere seconds after the last out of Game 5, Phillies fans did just that.
The event was 28 years in the making, and the scene at Cottman and Frankford avenues took hours to prepare. Cars were cleared from the streets as police officers set up roadblocks, and store owners hung signs in their windows welcoming patrons and supporting the Phillies.
As the players piled on top of one another on the field at Citizens Bank Park, Northeast Philadelphians packed onto Frankford Avenue by the thousands. They marched, they sang and some even cried tears of relief and joy. Philadelphians are champions.
The crowd multiplied quickly, becoming a sea of red and blue with screams and chants so loud the fireworks and helicopters circling above were silent. It was cold, with a wind chill in the 30s, but there was no shivering. Only smiles.
“I have literally been waiting all my life for this,” said Joey Miller, a 14-year-old who was dressed in Phillies gear with a grin as wide as Cottman Avenue. “I’m not going to school tomorrow.”
Everyone in the Northeast came together.
Older couples watched the scene from their front porches, while everyone under 50 filled the streets.
Children rode on their fathers’ shoulders, guys in their 20s pulled their girlfriends from the crushing crowd and teenage girls screamed until their voices were hoarse. In a strange way, through the noise and chaos, the city was at peace.
Police officers, ready to break up fights and quell any potential violence, tried to hide the smiles behind their helmets.
Fans didn’t make it easy for the police. Teenage boys climbed traffic lights, and women pulled up their Phillies shirts just long enough to flash their breasts. The excitement went to everyone’s heads faster than bartenders could serve drinks.
But people kept it friendly. Complete strangers hugged in the street, some by choice, others as a result of the pulsing crowd. Blocks away, drivers leaned on their horns as a sign of camaraderie. Adults and kids joined in the cheers for “Lights Out Lidge” and “Tampa Bay sucks.”
It took five games and a rain delay, but the Philadelphia Phillies did what nothing and no one else can do: they brought everyone in Philadelphia together.
Shannon McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.