What It Was Like at ’Nova’s Parade

Title game hero Kris Jenkins: “Whenever you're teaching your kids to shoot, just teach them the 1-2 step and then let it fly.”

Villanova parade - buses - clothespin

Photo by Mike Meech

Philadelphia parades are unique.

You probably know this. There’s the Mummers, full of feathers and questionable costume choices. There’s the Thanksgiving parade, which features a dozen balloon castoffs that don’t fit into other parades. Earlier this year, the pope paraded around the city. And, occasionally — very occasionally — there are sports championship parades.

Today, the city celebrated Villanova’s national championship with a $6,500 parade that went five blocks from 20th and Market to Dilworth Park at City Hall.

The sidewalks were packed. Seemingly every hustler in the city was out selling Villanova T-shirts, championship hats, celebratory pennants, blue-and-white wigs and — for some reason — poop emoji hats. Bars put out signs directing fans to post-parade specials, some of which included blue beer. (Ew.) The streets were filled with blue and white, and even a few people violating Philadelphia’s open container laws.

The coolest part of the parade was, after the buses passed, people went over and around the barriers to essentially join the parade in the streets. Thousands followed the two tour buses containing Villanova’s championship team as they went to the rally.

Mayor Jim Kenney kicked off the rally, telling the crowd that — since he took Villanova to win it all — he won his bracket pool for the first time in his life. (He joins a club: Bill Clinton, yesterday in Mt. Airy, said he won his bracket pool for the first time in 15 years thanks to the Wildcats.) Lt. Gov. Mike Stack then spoke, telling the crowd his feelings on the championship game: “That game was more suspenseful than whether or not I was going to be able to graduate from Villanova Law School.”

“It’s only fitting that we end up here in Philadelphia, the greatest sports city in the world, to celebrate this championship,” said Mark Jackson, Villanova’s athletic director. “We’ve got the world’s greatest fans, we’ve got the world’s greatest students, we’ve got the world’s greatest alumni. We’ve got a fantastic band. We’ve got a wonderful cheerleading team and dance team. We’ve got the best president in the world in Fr. Peter. And, oh yeah, we have a pretty good basketball team, don’t we?” (The band and cheerleaders, apparently, are not the best in the world.)

Parade - villanova - Philly from the top

A view of the Villanova victory parade from the Philly from the Top observation deck.

Villanova coach Jay Wright handled most of the festivities, introducing several of his players (who all got about two sentences to speak). Kris Jenkins referenced his game-winning shot on Monday: “Whenever you’re teaching your kids to shoot, just teach them the 1-2 step and then let it fly.”

Wright also talked about Villanova’s place in the the city’s basketball culture: “This is the best college basketball city in the world. We have six outstanding universities that play big time basketball, and we have great respect for being a part of the Big 5. And every one of the Big 5 coaches texted us throughout the tournament. We all do it for each other. And on behalf of Philadelphia basketball, we want to thank the Big 5 and thank Philadelphia basketball for everything they do for us.”

At the end of the rally, the Villanova basketball team took part in a Big 5 tradition. For years, Big 5 basketball fans would throw streamers on the court after the first made basket by each team. The NCAA has banned this (though it occasionally gives the schools a dispensation to do it, or the teams intentionally miss the technical free throws afterward). Today, a video board replayed the final shot of the championship game, and the Villanova team threw streamers. It was a fitting end to a great college basketball season in Philadelphia.

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