No one throws a celebration like New York City, although I could have told you that after attending the Giants parade in February 2008. Despite having been at the Giants’ parade, there was nothing that could have prepared me for the chaos that was the Canyon of Heroes on November 6th for the Yankee parade. If New York had a great celebration for the Giants, the Yankee parade blew that out of the water entirely.
I left my parents’ house in Westchester County at about 7:00 a.m., thinking there wouldn’t be a problem getting to the parade in time for its 11:00 a.m. start. I took Metro North and the subway to get down to city hall, which wasn’t too bad, in terms of crowds. It was rush hour and aside from people wearing Yankee jerseys, it couldn’t have been much worse than usual. I walked out of the subway station at about 9:00 a.m., two hours before the parade start time. It was a madhouse. Walking along Broadway (where the parade was to come through) wasn’t even possible, so I went on Church Street and figured I would walk down a side street. The first several streets was blocked off by the NYPD, as crowds had already reached capacity down those streets. This was never the case at the Giants parade.
I made it to Fulton Street where crowds were already about 20 people deep from Broadway. As the clock inched closer to parade time, the crowds swelled and everyone got stuck in place. Literally. I couldn’t raise my hands, people were so close. Every so often a group of people near Broadway would decide they’ve had enough and would try to leave the area by going back the way they came… through the mob. Imagine how well that worked. At this point it was really walking through someone as opposed to walking by someone. Each time someone would leave their spot to abandon watching the parade, it would get incredibly uncomfortable as people would stop in awkward places, trying to create room where there wasn’t any. After deserters would get through, the rest of the mob would push up, trying to get closer to Broadway. At the Giants’ parade, I could walk freely on the sidewalks along Broadway. Not even remotely possible at this one.
Maybe crowds were 20 deep when I got to where I thought my spot would be on Fulton Street, but by the time the parade was starting, the crowd down the street was probably near 50 deep. I think I ended up around 10 people deep, off the street. I had never experienced such a crowded spot in my life. I don’t think the word “crowded” does the situation justice. People were packed together so tightly that someone always had their back on my chest, their arms on my arms. I eventually got my arm up to get some pictures as the Yankee players came by on float.
Some of the Yankee legends, like Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson came by in classic cars, but they were so low on the street that I never saw them. The players were up higher and visible to most everyone and got huge cheers, the way champions should be greeted. There were huge gaps on the parade, as 10 minutes would go by before I would see another float of players after one had gone by. The floats also drove by us pretty quickly and I only got a glimpse of the World Series trophy.
Regardless of the discomfort of the crowd, it was still an awesome experience seeing the happy players get treated like royalty. Why not shower multi-millionaires with shredded paper? This type of exuberance in New York City is only seen when a team the Yankees win a championship and it was thrilling to be a part of.