Experiencing the biggest sports parade in US history
And like LeBron said, ‘Shit, you get ready for next year’
Let me set the scene for you, it is Sunday night, June 19th, 2016. Game 7 of the NBA National Championship game between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Being born and raised in Cleveland, this night was one of the most anticipated nights of my entire life. It had been 52 years since Cleveland had brought home a National Championship in any major sport. For most die hard Cleveland fans, we understood that hope could never be given up until the final buzzer rang.
I had clocked out of work around 8:30pm, just after the game had started. I was already bummed out that I couldn’t be in my hometown to watch the game, but Columbus was just going to have to do. I stayed at work so I didn’t miss any more of the game, and thankfully once we closed at 9pm they let us all sit at the bar and watch the rest of it.
I will never forget the feeling I had once that final buzzer did ring, but this time Cleveland came out on top. Obviously, my emotions overtook me and I began to cry. This team had done the impossible, being the first team to ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the finals. Leave it to Cleveland to make miracles.
Though that night changed thousands of fans lives, the real moment that proved the love for that city was just a few days later when it came to the celebration parade. Cleveland executives were predicting 500,000-800,000 fans to show up for the big commemoration of our new National Champions.
I knew that I had to be there, so I made the trip back home to witness it for myself. We left for the 11am parade at 7am, knowing downtown Cleveland would be a complete mess. Once arriving, we got a prime seat (Ontario and Euclid for those Cleveland natives) and the waiting game began. The vibe in the city was indescribable.
As every second ticked on the anticipation grew for the celebration to begin, with rally crews filing up and down the parade route throwing t-shirts, towels, and posters to the estimated 2 million fans that showed up. Finally, around 11:30am, the parade began.
Cleveland was in an absolute uproar, something that I will remember for the rest of my life. Wine and Gold flooded the city as cheers were echoing off every building in Downtown Cleveland. I have grown up in and around this city and never before have I seen so many happy people there.
As most know, Cleveland has gained the reputation of being the “factory of sadness,” with every ounce of hope typically being shattered in all sports related moments. Let’s face it, we haven’t had the best track record in anything, but through it all we have remained hopeful and loyal to our teams.
The energy was like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and once we saw that first glimpse of JR Smith (shirtless, of course) come down the mile and a half parade route, I have never heard a crowd so loud in my entire life. I was overwhelmed with emotion, as I have grown up a die-hard Cavs, Browns, and Indians girl. My grandfather and mom, both of whom have passed away, are most of the reason I was raised that way. In that moment I couldn’t have wanted anything more than for them to be able to witness this.
I think the best shirts I saw were the ones that said “I’ve waited my whole life for this,” because those just prove how real this was for these people. For every single person in this massive crowd, this was one of the greatest days of their lives, as they truly have been waiting to be able to call off work and wake up at 5am to finally see a Championship parade.
Every store and sign from Columbus to Cleveland was a congratulations to those Cavaliers, and a huge thank you to LeBron James himself, for keeping his promise and bringing us home a ring. The atmosphere and feelings that I experienced that day are unlike anything else, there is no way to describe the lasting impression that day will have on me forever.
For all of that, as if they haven’t been thanked enough, thank you Cleveland Cavaliers for bringing it home this year. And just like LeBron said, “Shit, you get ready for next year.”