12th Man 700,000 strong at Seattle parade

Seahawks fans flood packed, icy streets for glimpse of players

Staff writerFebruary 5, 2014 

Peter Anspach — and about 700,000 other people — weren’t going to miss the biggest party in Seattle history.

The Tacoma resident and lifelong Seahawks fan was at the Tacoma Dome train station by 6 a.m. Wednesday. He and friend Justin Simpson were hoping to catch a train to Seattle to celebrate the team’s Super Bowl victory.

They knew it’d be packed, and it was. They waited 90 minutes before they could grab a seat on the train.

But they made it to the party and were part of the throng that descended on the city for festivities that included a parade of two dozen vehicles carrying players, coaches and the gleaming Vince Lombardi Trophy. The celebration ended with a rally inside a packed CenturyLink Field for season ticket holders.

The Hawks fans — layered in blue and green with face paint and crazy hats, scarves and anything else to show their 12th Man spirit — overran the city from the Seattle Center more than 2 miles south to CenturyLink.

“It was fun walking over with everybody cheering and honking,” said 30-year-old Ryan Wong, who came from Beacon Hill with a group of friends. “The 12th Man has really shown up.”

“It’s so exciting, we didn’t want to miss it,” said Geoff Brown of Sammamish. “I hope it’s not once in a lifetime.”

As the scheduled 11 a.m. start time for the parade neared, crowds swelled around Pioneer Square, at times blocking the planned route. People climbed trees and hugged street lamps to catch a glimpse of the team as the parade passed.

Chants of “Sea-hawks” rippled across the crowd that was 75 people deep in places; people held up banners proclaiming their love for the Hawks. Along the way, running back Marshawn Lynch squirmed on the hood of a Duck amphibious vehicle, tossing Skittles into the crowd.

Inside CenturyLink, fans stood, watching on the big screen as the procession crept along. Once the team arrived, the players took the field one at a time, entering through the locker room tunnel.

Thunderous cheers greeted the players, many of whom expressed surprise that after passing hundreds of thousands of fans on the streets, there were still tens of thousands more inside the stadium.

“I don’t think I’ve been somewhere where there’s been this many people that have been this happy,” said Lynnelle Pugmire of Gig Harbor. “There’s so much pride here it’s amazing.”

Pugmire drove to the parade with her 8-year-old son, Christian, 16-year-old daughter, Alexandra, and her daughter’s best friend, Mackenzie Nelson, 16. They were set up along the parade route near Westlake Center by 5:45 a.m.

Pugmire’s son, Josh, 17, caught the Bremerton ferry with friends from Gig Harbor High School. But because of the long wait he didn’t get to Seattle in time to find his mom.

Pugmire didn’t think twice about attending the day’s celebration — or pulling her kids from school.

“My daughter hates skipping school. She has an almost perfect attendance record,” mother Pugmire said. “But she was all for it. It’s good for them to be a part of it.”

Once they got to the parade, Anspach and Simpson could have done without the morning’s icy temperatures, which hovered around 20 degrees. But their frozen hands and frustration with the growing crowd that pushed them from their front row spots were quickly forgotten as the Hawks came down Fourth Avenue.

“It’s surreal,” Anspach said. “To be honest with you, I’m kind of at a loss for words. It’s indescribable.”

He and Simpson were in no hurry to leave after the players made it to CenturyLink. Instead they returned to their lawn chairs, sitting a few feet from where their sports heroes just passed, relishing the fact that they were part of history.

At first, Anspach ranked Wednesday’s parade as his No. 2 overall sports experience behind the Seahawks’ NFC Championship win over the San Francisco 49ers, a game he attended. But he changed his mind after standing only a few feet from the Super Bowl champions and making eye contact with cornerback Richard Sherman.

“I was yelling my head off,” he said. “There’s something special about this team.”

The Seattle Times contributed to this report.
Brynn Grimley: 253-597-8467

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