The 12th Man showed up in full force for the Seattle Seahawks’ victory parade on Wednesday. Seattle police estimated some 700,000 people braved the cold to line the streets and cheer for the Super Bowl champions.
"I think it just gives us a sense of pride. It's given everyone something to rally around and be excited about. It's just brought joy to so many people here," said Lesli Burns, a fan.
The parade, which began under the Space Needle, headed down Fourth Avenue to CenturyLink Field for a rally with season ticket holders.
Fans seized the high ground wherever possible — up in trees on Westlake Plaza, atop parking meters and light posts and, for kids, on the shoulders of parents. Clothing, banners and riotous wigs blared the Seahawks colors. The aroma of beer and marijuana smoke hung heavily in the air, and vendors worked the crowd with Seahawks jerseys and thick hats.
The temperatures hovered below freezing for much of the morning, chilling the early-comers. But many said the heat of the crowd kept them warm, except, perhaps, their feet.
As the crowds grew bigger, a scene KPLU reporter Gabriel Spitzer described as "an absolute crush of humanity" unfolded near Fourth Avenue and Pike Street.
"It was like being inside of a garbage compactor," Spitzer said. "People were pressed, torso to torso. People couldn't lift their arms. I saw several people faint. I saw people begin to have panic attacks. I saw mothers with kid who were desperate to get out."
After about 20 minutes, a channel opened up, giving the fans some much-needed breathing room. No other incidents were reported.
Scheduling an epic victory party on a weekday morning presented a challenge for many Seahawks fans who would normally be at work or in school. A number of paradegoers reported calling in sick. Some said they did so with a wink to a sympathetic boss, who gave their blessing. One college student said he was missing a midterm exam to attend the parade.
"I was at the Super Bowl game, and feel like it's my duty to come up here," said Zane Khan of Shoreline of his choice to miss an exam.
Plenty of younger students were there, too. Seattle Public Schools reports that about one-fourth of its 51,000 students were absent, many of them excused by their principles. One 16-year-old high school student from Kent was there with his mother. Asked how he got the day off, his mother answered, simply, “This is history class.”