Kansas City turns red as Chiefs celebrate 3rd Super Bowl title in 5 seasons with a parade

KANSAS CITY (AP) — Downtown Kansas City was a sea of red Wednesday for Valentine’s Day as Chiefs fans celebrate their third Super Bowl title in five seasons with a parade.

“We are stacking up trophies,” linebacker Drue Tranquill said as he grabbed a reporter’s mic during Wednesday’s festivities to mark the Chiefs’ come-from-behind, 25-22 overtime win over the San Francisco 49ers.

Confetti canons exploded from double-decker buses as players rolled through the crowd, DJs and drummers heralding their arrival. Throngs lined the route, with fans climbing trees and street poles, or standing on rooftops for a better view. Owner Clark Hunt was on one of those buses, holding the Lombardi Trophy. Former “Modern Family” star Eric Stonestreet was part of the mob.

“Best fans in the world,” exclaimed wide receiver Mecole Hardman, who caught the winning touchdown pass, as he walked along the route, with the players signing jerseys and at least one person’s head.

“Never stop,” running back Isiah Pacheco added from the route.

Key on the minds of many fans is whether pop superstar Taylor Swift would join her boyfriend Travis Kelce for the parade and victory speeches. Swift has not commented. She has a show in Melbourne, Australia, on Friday night, the first of three scheduled concerts on her Eras Tour.

She was nowhere to be seen early in the parade. Instead, Kelce was joined by his mom, Donna Kelce, the superstar of NFL moms (her oldest son, Jason Kelce, is a center for the Philadelphia Eagles).

Unseasonably warm temperatures in the 60s Fahrenheit (15-20 Celsius) had players stripping off shirts. The weather also helped generate a crowd that city officials estimate could top 1 million.

“I missed last year. I said, ‘I’m not missing this year,’” said longtime fan Charles Smith Sr., who flew from his home in Sicklerville, New Jersey, for the parade.

Known by friends as Kansas City Smitty, the 52-year-old first became a Chiefs fan when Christian Okoye played fullback for the team starting in the late 1980s.

“I got a history with this team,” he said, adding that he ran out of his home with a giant flag, screaming “Kansas City,” when the Chiefs clinched the victory in overtime.

The city and the team each chipped in around $1 million for the event commemorating Kelce, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs becoming the first team since Tom Brady and the New England Patriots two decades ago to defend their title.

Some fans camped overnight and others began to stake out spots before dawn to catch prime viewing spots. Bailey McDermott, 17, and Gracie Gilby, 16, of Lebanon, Missouri, got up at 3 a.m. to make the three-hour drive to the parade. They had a party to watch the game, confetti poppers erupting when the Chiefs won.

“Kind of freaking out at the end,” said Gilby, who wore a sequined Chiefs jerseys with Kelce’s No. 87 on it. McDermott also had a sequined jersey, hers bearing Mahomes’ No. 15.

Many of the largest school districts in the area canceled classes, and businesses along the parade path are turning the day into a viewing party for their workers. At least 600 Kansas City police officers will be stationed along the the 2-mile (3.22-kilometer) route, police Chief Stacey Graves said.

Teens and younger kids were everywhere, some tossing footballs, others watching replays of game highlights on giant TV screens.

Among them was Elysseah Buford and her friend, Devaun Burns, who watched the game in between taking orders at McDonald’s. “We’re losing. We’re losing,” Buford recalled saying. But Burns scolded her, even as a manager declared that the game was a lost cause: “I said, ’Don’t speak it. Believe it.”

The 18-year-old high school seniors from Raymore joined the festivities with another friend, 17-year-old Mekiyzeion Williams, who dared to ask what would have happened if Hardman missed the TD catch. “Shut up,” Burns said.

After decades without a championship, the city is gaining experience with victory parades. Five seasons ago, the Chiefs defeated the 49ers for the team’s first Super Bowl championship in 50 years. That followed the Kansas City Royals winning the World Series in 2015, the city’s first baseball championship in 30 years. That year, fans abandoned their cars on the side of the highway so they could walk to the celebration.

Then, last year, the Chiefs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35 and prophetically vowed they would be back for more.

One big change this year is that the parade is getting started one hour earlier at 11 a.m. so the crowd will dissipate before the Valentine’s Day dinner crowd shows up.

After the massive cleanup, the team gets ready to try it again.

“It never gets old,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, before joining the celebration.


AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

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