Ron texted me that he was arriving back in Baltimore from New Orleans around 7am and would come pick me up to go downtown. Traffic was terrible, but we managed to find parking in plenty of time.
The stadium was open to the public and that is where he wanted to go to see the ceremonies and speeches. I love parades and wanted to stand on the street, so we split up. There is no way to describe the sheer number of people out on the streets.
I stationed myself at the corner of Pratt and Howard streets, right where the parade turned to head toward the stadium. It was a great vantage point.
With the team on flatbeds and humvees it was easy to see everyone, though most of my pictures did not come out.
Ray Lewis was at the end of the parade with only a trolley full of kids behind him. The crowd's energy boiled over at that point and we ended up jumping the barriers and filling the street.
The cops were very cool about the whole thing, not trying to stop the giant surge of people, but watching it closely to make sure no one got hurt.
So i was carried away into the parade, chanting and singing and screaming while marching to the stadium.
Ray and his horse mounted police detail was about 100-150 ft ahead of me and the trolley was right behind me.
I mean, right behind me.
|beep, beep Niki|
i wish this pic had come out because it was hilarious).
It was thrilling to be part of this surging mass of humanity because the mood was so elated. I can see how mob-mentality could turn bad really quickly, but everyone was there to celebrate and be joyful. Yes, i couldn't have stopped if i wanted to without being trampled and there was no choice in which direction to go; you went where the crowd went. But at no point did i feel in danger. There were cops everywhere and everyone was so freaking happy.
Unfortunately the stadium was closed by the time the crowd arrived because it was already at fire capacity; all of the seats and the field were full. I hung around for a while and then walked all the way back to the car. We knew i'd be done with the festivities first so i had the keys to the truck and was able to pick Ron up as he was walking back from the stadium.
It was an amazing experience.