Downtown Manhattan, N.Y., November 6, 2009 — The woman getting on the 6:34 (out of Rye) in New Rochelle was grateful that I slid over and let her have the outside seat of two, but I was glad for the company. “Oh my,” she said, “it seems we have a few young fans heading to the Parade.”
I couldn’t help myself, of course, and replied instantly, “Yes, and I’m one of them,” even though I outstripped the rest of the Yankee-clad throng in age by several decades. I was downright bubbly, badgering her with how much fun it was to see them win it in person, and how this was my fifth parade, and how, not only that, but I made the acquaintance of ex-Yankee 1980s lefthander Dennis Rasmussen on the train to the Wednesday game. I was out of control but she really seemed not to mind.
The Parade through the Canyon of Heroes is a strange bird, really. We made the mistake in 1996 of arriving an hour before the Parade, which placed us double-digit rows back from the flanks on the west side of Broadway, the street that runs through the canyon. Ever since I’ve been wiser, but sadder, in a way, because I have needed to get there way before 8 a.m., and then need to spend more than three hours on my feet in the freezing streets, before the real fun begins.
Sounds harsher than I mean, because there is fun, throwing unraveling toilet paper rolls across the street from side to side, and cheering on the few office types willing to unload with some confetti from many stories up well ahead of the heroes’ arrival. This year I had, courtesy of a Christmas gift from my brother, the combo fold-up seat/breefcase, which afforded me the opportunity to sit a spell. It sits too low, right on the pavement, and by 9:20 it became too crowded to use, but it got me through a good hour. Best present from a statistical standpoint in years.
Most people are pretty much the same, adorned in their best Yankee regalia, cheering, blowing noisemakers, tossing paper. But there are always a few brilliant artsy types, like the fellow who traipsed up and down Broadway behind us holding aloft a kite-like structure in the shape of a coffin with the “Phillies” spelled out on the outside, and “Who’s Your Daddy?” baby Pedro laid out within.
There were lots of cops, sanitation workers, firemen, news and camera people passing in front of us, some logging hours on the job, but others obviously infected with the spirit. Two sanitation workers put on a mini-drama that revolved around a nasty Phillies cap assaulting them. But take heart, Good triumphed in the end, and the hat was struck with a broomstick, flung to the pavement and took a beating from fists, elbows, and knees and finally trod on by workmen’s boots. The news and camera people get the crowd pumped up, filming crowd groups cheering for alll their worth while trying to elicit the best quotes from interesting-looking fans in the crowd.
It seemed to me that they brought the players through much more slowly in this one, with a good 40 minutes passing between the time World Series MVP Hideki Matsui fronted the first float (rightfully so) and the majestic Mariano Rivera was carried past the adoring crowd bringing up the rear. But once the players started going by, there were no more sore feet, no aching backs, none feeling frozen among the throng.
I have seen the tape of what took place at City Hall as I do every year. It would be pointless to try to catch both live, and I go for the “paradeness” of it all. There had to be four of five High School Marching bands and about the same number of drum aand bugle corps and bagpipe marchers and players from the various police forces employed by the city. There were quite a few ancillary people carried through the canyon on busses and floats breaking up the procession of players: relatives of players, Yankee Stadium workers, old players. Not a lot to see but you had to be impressed when from time to time you glanced a hand adorned by a World Series Ring in these groups.
A little after noon, the party broke up once Mo and his family were carried through. I managed to station myself close to the Battery Park origination at Exchange Place and Broadway. After my train ride to Grand Central, I had taken the shuttle to the west side, then the 1 train to Rector Street in the morning. Once the last of the floats passed, the egress from Broadway was labored and onerous, as the police were letting us cross through an alleyway and two short, nonfunctioning escalators to Trinity Square, but only single file. I just missed an R train from Rector heading uptown, which was good actually. Several hundred feet down the platform there was an empty bench to which my posterior quickly became glued. I willingly gave the seat up to nab an uptown R, switching to the 4 Train at 14th Street (Union Square). I was back on a train heading north at 1:37.
I didn’t think I could be more tired than Thursday morning after the clincher. Now I know I was wrong.