Philadelphia Eagles fans celebrate the team’s victory in the NFL Super Bowl 52 between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in downtown Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
PHILADELPHIA, Feb 5: The rain and hail that pelted Philadelphia for much of the day dissipated just as people across the city spilled out of sports bars, apartments and houses.
They all had one destination: Broad Street.
It was time for a celebration 58 years in the making.
On Sunday night, just as Nick Foles led the Philadelphia Eagles to a surprise Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots in Minneapolis, the scene more than 1,000 miles away in Philly was jubilation and pandemonium.
Fireworks were set off. Car horns blared. And Philadelphians young and old descended on Broad Street, the iconic thoroughfare that will soon host a parade to commemorate the city’s first major pro sports championship since the Phillies won the 2008 World Series.
“The city deserved it,” said 66-year-old Lou Potel, who threw a party at his home just off Broad before joining a much bigger party outside. “It’s a great city, and now we have a Super Bowl to go along with it.”
Like so many other fans, Potel’s love for the Eagles has been passed down from generation to generation. He went to the Super Bowl with his son the last time the Eagles played in the title game in 2004, and said that watching Sunday’s championship with his son “made up for it.”
Dustin Seidman, 42, and his wife Staci, 41, decided to bring their 10-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter to the festivities on Broad Street, even as drunken fans sprayed beer and climbed trash trucks, street poles and awnings. Social media video showed the awning outside the Ritz-Carlton Hotel collapsing with more than a dozen people on it, but it was unclear if there were any injuries.
There were many other young kids on Broad Street, with parents weaving strollers between people and cars and some even holding infants in carriers. One youngster rode a scooter while wearing an Eagles helmet.
“We wouldn’t miss this,” Dustin Seidman said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
As his son then asked to keep walking north to City Hall, he added: “Does life get any better than this?”
For Staci Seidman, the thought of her late grandfather, a die-hard Eagles fan, immediately crossed her mind when the game ended. She wasn’t alone.
Rick Campitelli, 63, who came into the city to watch the game with his son, said he wished his father-in-law could have been alive to see this moment.
“This is the greatest,” said Campitelli, wearing the jersey of Wilbert Montgomery, the former Eagles running back to whom he once sold insurance. “I was hoping they would do it before I died, and they did it.”
The scene in Boston was far more somber as fans inside the Banshee Bar had to come to terms with a rare loss for Tom Brady. Some, however, took it in stride.
“I’ve got nothing to complain about,” Boston resident Bill Crowley said. “It’s the greatest dynasty in NFL history and this loss tonight doesn’t change that.
“They’ll be back,” Conor Hobert added. “One hundred percent, they’ll be back.”
Sam Murphy, 40, actually made the trip from Boston to Philadelphia, flying in Sunday morning before planning to fly back for work Monday. The longtime Eagles fan and Boston resident joked he couldn’t be within 100 miles of his home, instead deciding to watch the game with his old University of Pennsylvania roommate Rob Ballenger, 41, at Grace Tavern, near 23rd and South Streets.
While standing in the back of the packed bar, Murphy drank Newbolds in honor of his father-in-law Ron Skubecz, who loved that beer and who once gave his children a football signed by Eagles legend Chuck Bednarik. Skubecz, a lifelong Eagles fan, died just three weeks ago, making Sunday’s championship even more emotional for Murphy.
“This is Philly at its best,” said Murphy, as he, Ballenger and hundreds of other new friends paraded down South Street to get to the party on Broad. “This team is what Philly is all about.”