Lukas Kenney, Henry Gamber, Abbey Higginbotham, Jasmine Jones
After 50 years of waiting, thousands of fans flooded the streets of downtown Kansas City on Wednesday to celebrate the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LIV victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
Despite the cold temperatures, many began crowding the stage at Union Station before dawn, securing their spots for the rally scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. As an ocean of red and gold formed, familiar chants broke out as fans shared their excitement to celebrate the team behind this season’s historic victory.
Others parked their cars miles away and walked downtown, lining Grand Boulevard hours before the parade was scheduled to begin. Fans packed the hotels and bars along the parade route as well, shouting from the rooftops and cheering from open windows.
Some devoted fans even made the trek from outside the state. Tyler Addison, a student at Iowa Western Community College, came all the way from Council Bluffs, Iowa.
“I didn’t really get any sleep last night,” said Addison. “I left my dorm in Council Bluffs around 3 a.m., and we got here around seven.”
Many fans expressed their excitement to see the big names on the team, with much of the love reserved for Head Coach Andy Reid, 61, who was the winningest coach in NFL history without a Super Bowl victory until this season, and 24-year-old superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, whose cannon-arm and humble manner have won the hearts of many Kansas Citians.
“I’m most excited to see Mahomes,” said Addison. “I don’t think we could have done it without him. And Andy Reid, I’m hoping that he’s on top of the bus as well so that we can express how grateful we are for both of them.”
Others celebrated some of the unsung heroes of the team.
“I’m most excited to see Damien Williams out there, I feel like he should have gotten that Super Bowl MVP for his contributions,” said one fan.
Some parade-goers reflected on how important the team’s success was for the Kansas City community.
“As much as we probably wouldn’t want to admit it, we’re psychologically connected to our sports teams,” said Kevin, a fan from Springfield, Missouri. “In our lives, we kind of expect things to go the way they do with our sports teams, so we’re just waiting for the other foot to drop all the time. From now on, we walk with a little bit of a spring in our step.”
Long-time Chiefs supporter Edward Hines remembers watching the Chiefs win Super Bowl IV in the same room he watched this year’s game—50 years later.
“This time is extra special,” Hines said, “because I may have cancer, and I don’t know if I will see this happen again.”
As they waited for the parade to begin, fans considered the exciting possibility this season could begin a long run of Chiefs’ success.
“I think this is the start of a dynasty,” said Addison. “They are going to be huge.”
“The next three years in a row, we’re doing it. I guarantee you that,” said Chris, an especially exuberant fan.
Fans roared in praise as the team paraded down Grand Boulevard in a motorcade of double-decker buses around noon. Red and gold confetti thrown from the vehicles mixed with snow flurries in the frigid air. The proud members of Chiefs Kingdom snapped countless photos and videos, as players waived from atop the buses and even ran through the streets, high-fiving fans and hoisting the cherished Lombardi Trophy. A riotous uproar traveled through the crowd wherever the final bus in the convoy went, signaling the presence of both Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce.
As the buses reached their destination, fans moved from the streets to join the massive group in front of the stage at Union Station. The crowd stretched all the way to the Liberty Memorial, with screens and speakers set up so no one would miss the rally.
Legendary Chiefs announcer Mitch Holtus kicked the event off, pumping up the crowd with his familiar, booming voice. He introduced speeches from Missouri governor Mike Parsons, mayor Quinton Lucas and Jackson County Executive Frank White, all of whom celebrated Kansas City for its support of the Chiefs, with White proclaiming Feb. 5, 2020 to be ‘Kansas City Chiefs Day’ in Jackson County.
Chiefs owner Clark Hunt spoke next, expressing his appreciation that the team was able to bring home the Lamar Hunt Trophy, which is awarded to the NFL’s AFC champions and named after Hunt’s father.
After the crowd chanted his name, head coach Andy Reid gave a short speech. He thanked Chiefs fans, calling them, “the best in the NFL.” He closed his speech with a promise.
“Next year, we’re coming right back here,” said Reid. “One more time, baby. One more time.”
Super Bowl LIV MVP Patrick Mahomes followed up with an impassioned speech of his own, paying tribute to Andy Reid as he addressed the crowd.
“When I became the starter for Kansas City, the first thing I wanted to do was bring the Lamar Hunt Trophy back to Kansas City, back to this organization,” said Mahomes. “And the second most important thing I wanted to do was get the Lombardi Trophy for the greatest coach of all time, Andy Reid.”
After a brief speech from All-Pro defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, Holtus held the mic again and introduced Kelce as “the best tight end in the National Football League.”
Kelce stayed true to his rambunctious reputation as he spoke, saying, “I’m wearing about half the beers I’ve been trying to drink.”
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “This is the most beautiful scene I’ve ever witnessed in my life. I love this city to death.”
The rally closed shortly after Kelce’s speech. As Reid banged the massive Chiefs’ drum, a tomahawk chop broke out among fans, who dispersed from the gathering, walking through the streets of a city recently crowned champion.
Though USA Today claimed the turnout for the event did not match the size of 2015’s Royals parade, those who braved the cold weather can be sure they witnessed a piece of Kansas City history.