They were cold and wet by the time the parade buses made their way up Grand Boulevard around noon local time, cheerleaders shaking shiny pompoms and red and gold confetti twirling through the air, mixing with the spitting snow.
Patrick Mahomes and his teammates stood atop a string of red double-decker buses, the young quarterback and game MVP wearing a red plaid jacket and holding a Bud Light in one hand. Waving his arms, Mahomes exhorted the fans to cheer as he hoisted the sterling silver Lombardi Trophy into the air, later bringing it close and cradling it like a baby.
The Chiefs had taken a pulse-pounding route to the title. Three times they rallied from double-digit deficits, including Sunday when they wiped out the 49ers’ 10-point fourth-quarter lead before wrapping up a 31-20 victory.
When Mahomes addressed the crowd, his voice hoarse, he acknowledged the team’s long journey to the title. Even though he was sidelined for part of the season with a knee injury, Mahomes said, “We still came back and won the Super Bowl!”
“We’ve been waiting our whole lives for this, pretty much,” said Dana Tarantino, 37, a teacher from Overland Park, Kan.
Many of the surviving players from that team are well into their 80s; nine attended Wednesday’s parade.
“It’s been quite a journey,” said Greg Rudigier, 55, a salesman from Leawood, Kan., and longtime season ticket holder. “We came up short so many times, when there were such great expectations. To finally get this victory — it’s beautiful.”
The franchise is based in Missouri but has long been a great unifier for residents of the Kansas City metropolitan area, which straddles Kansas and Missouri, two states that have been rivals since the guerrilla skirmishes of the Civil War. Fans said they already had forgiven President Trump’s congratulatory tweet Sunday, in which he wrongly praised the team for representing the “Great State of Kansas … so very well” and was derided on social media.
“They’re just trying to divide and conquer us,” said Denise Hood, a lash technician from Liberty, Mo. “This is a time for us to come together, not be spread apart. We need this.”
Much of the fan love Wednesday was reserved for Coach Andy Reid, 61, who was the winningest coach in NFL history without a Super Bowl victory until Sunday, and for Mahomes, the 24-year-old Texas native known for his humble manner, rocket arm and exuberant head of curls, a haircut that little boys are now lining up at his Overland Park barber to copy. His arrival as a rookie in 2017, as the 10th pick of that spring’s draft, seemed to energize the whole city, fans said.
“He’s heaven-sent,” said Marquita Simms, 49, a school bus driver from Kansas City, Kan. “I love it when he said he don’t just pray when times get hard, he prays all the time. We are people of faith, too.”
That was a motivating factor, Mahomes said.
“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,” he said. “And the second most important thing I wanted to do was bring the Lombardi Trophy to the best coach in the National Football League.”
Along the parade route at the corner of Pershing Road and Grand Boulevard, the talk of more titles had already begun.
“[Chiefs General Manager] Brett Veach has us set up for a dynasty,” said Mark Hosted, 32, a conveyor belt technician, told his buddies. “But remember Dan Marino? He went to the Super Bowl once at 23 and never made it back there again. That’s all I gotta say.”
Bogage reported from Washington. Cindy Boren and Matt Bonesteel in Washington contributed to this report. See below for live updates from the parade and rally.
February 5, 2020 at 3:35 PM EST
Fight for your right to party
Chiefs Coach Andy Reid and several players took the rally stage to fire up fans and predict that Kansas City will be hosting another parade this time next year to celebrate a Super Bowl LV victory.
“Next year we’re coming right back here,” said Reid, who was greeted with a standing ovation. “One more time, baby. One more time.”
Parade organizers saved the prime speaking spot for tight end Travis Kelce, one of the team’s most flamboyant characters. Wearing a $20,000 Louis Vuitton coat, he stepped to the microphone and shouted, “Can you dig it?”
He did, however, manage to tell fans, “We unleashed a can of whoop ass on everybody.”
After acknowledging he’d had a few alcoholic beverages, he pointed to fans watching across the street on the hill of the World War I Museum and Memorial and shouted, “We represent and honor every single veteran that went to war for us in World War I!“ he said. “Right here in the heart of America!”
“This is the most beautiful scene I ever witnessed in my life. I love this city to death,” Kelce later proclaimed before being played out by the team’s anthem, the Beastie Boys’ 1986 hit, “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party).”
Reid concluded the rally by beating the team’s war drum, a tradition typically saved for dignitaries including politicians or legendary former players.
February 5, 2020 at 2:40 PM EST
Rally begins with speeches
With the parade concluded, attention turned to the rally stage, with preliminary speeches from politicians.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) took the stage as the first of many dignitaries to fire up the crowd.
“I don’t know if I’m here as a governor today or here as a member of Chiefs Kingdom for 50 long years,” said Parson, a native of southwest Missouri.
Jackson County (Mo.) Administrator Frank White, a former all-star second baseman who won a World Series with the Royals in 1985, declared Wednesday “Kansas City Chiefs Day” in Jackson County, home of Arrowhead Stadium.
The team’s geographical provenance became an oddball story line after the Chiefs defeated the 49ers when President Trump tweeted and then deleted a note of congratulations that said the Chiefs represent the state of Kansas. In fact, the Chiefs, and the bulk of geographical Kansas City, are in Missouri.
“It is an honor to represent the great state of Missouri, the Show-Me State,” Parson said. “And who did a better job of showing [than] us?”
By Jacob Bogage
February 5, 2020 at 1:50 PM EST
‘It’s pure elation,’ Kansas Citian Paul Rudd says
In an interview with NFL Network, actor and Kansas City native Paul Rudd said the feeling of the Chiefs’ championship is “pure elation.”
The years without a championship, some of them with very mediocre teams, were “soul-crushing disappointment,” he said. “And you get the feeling that no one else in the league is paying attention. It’s a small market. Only chiefs fans know about it,” Rudd said. Finally, this year was different.
“It’s the first time I’ve been able to say to my son, ‘You can be proud of this team, you don’t have to wait until next year.’ It’s pure elation."
“Every single year since he was 7, he cries at the end of the season,” Rudd said later. “This year, he cried more than ever, but they were happy tears.”
By Jacob Bogage
February 5, 2020 at 1:37 PM EST
Chiefs headed to the stage
The buses have concluded their trip down Grand Boulevard and players and coaches are making their way to Union Station for speeches from team members. Leading the way is Coach Andy Reid, who is hugging the fence line with the Lombardi Trophy so fans can touch the hardware.
By Jacob Bogage
February 5, 2020 at 1:11 PM EST
Things to do with the Lombardi Trophy
Raise it in the air. Waive it all around. Hold it out for fans to touch. Pour beer down the side of the trophy and slurp it up. Tight end Travis Kelce attempted that feat on the team charter plane back from Miami, writing “Growing up playing hockey, I always wanted to chug out of the Stanley Cup after being crowned a Champion.”
Kansas City fans tried the same thing with a replica of the trophy along the parade route on Wednesday. This photo was captured and tweeted by Wichita Eagle photojournalist Travis Heying.
By Jacob Bogage
February 5, 2020 at 1:06 PM EST
Mahomes is still dropping dimes
This time, though, he’s finding fans along the parade route. After a fan tossed a football onto his bus for an autograph, Mahomes told the fan to go long, then completed another picture-perfect pass. Mahomes, the Super Bowl MVP, threw for 286 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions against the 49ers and ran for another touchdown, too.
He also connected with one of his favorite targets.
By Jacob Bogage
February 5, 2020 at 12:54 PM EST
Where’s the Lombardi Trophy?
It’s on the second bus in the convoy with franchise owner Clark Hunt. Wearing a bright red Chiefs jacket and ski cap, Hunt held the trophy high and waved to fans along the route with his wife and children standing behind him.
Some of the players have disembarked the buses to party with fans along Grand Boulevard, signing autographs, taking selfies and swigging some beers.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is a few buses back with tight end Travis Kelce, eliciting some of the loudest applause from fans. Kelce held a WWE championship belt while wearing a Louis Vuitton coat and ski goggles, as though players are planning to spray one another with champagne or beer. (TMZ reported that Kelce’s coat cost $20,000.)
By Jacob Bogage
February 5, 2020 at 12:45 PM EST
KC Wolf is on the scene
Kansas City’s googly-eyed mascot KC Wolf is at the parade. He’s a nod to the Wolfpack, the nickname for the group of fans who sat directly behind the Chiefs’ bench at Municipal Stadium and wielded horns and cowbells in the franchise’s nascent years in the American Football League.
February 5, 2020 at 12:32 PM EST
The parade kicks off
Kansas City’s second major sports parade in five years is underway. Players, coaches and other dignitaries will travel nearly two miles down Grand Boulevard amid a light snow.
Cheerleaders are at the front of the route in a military vehicle, followed by Warpaint, the horse that runs a lap around Arrowhead Stadium for each Chiefs touchdown. Players are at the back of the parade in open double-decker buses and Coach Andy Reid is leading the way as the main attraction on the first bus.
City officials are expecting around a million people to come out for the event, according to NFL Network. When the Royals won the World Series in 2015, 700,000 people came to the championship parade, but Kansas City is a football town and the Chiefs are quenching a 50-year title drought. Schools around Kansas City canceled classes today in what locals have called a “red snow day.”
Through blasting music, Chiefs cheerleaders and fans exchanged “tomahawk chop” chants as parade floats rolled by. The team’s rallying cry, accompanied by the rhythmic “war chant,” was a constant at Super Bowl LIV in Miami, even as some Native American groups called the cheer offensive and racist.
“That’s not cool that a non-Native is parading around holding a Bud Light, wearing a headdress,” Kevin Allis, the chief executive of the National Congress of American Indians and a member of the Forest County (Wis.) Potawatomi community, said in a phone interview before the Super Bowl, “or having a drink in his left hand and doing the tomahawk chop with his right while he has his face painted.”
By Jacob Bogage
February 5, 2020 at 11:57 AM EST
Fan hurt after falling from tree
Fans have lined up on the hill at the downtown World War I Museum for a view of the parade route, but one place they shouldn’t go looking for higher ground: the trees. The museum posted signs on the trunks asking spectators not to climb the trees, some of which are held up by splints.
Still, some attendees have attempted to gain a bird’s-eye view, leading one to fall at least 10 feet to the ground and require medical attention. Other fans have climbed higher as the parade draws nearer and the snowfall picks up.
By Jacob Bogage
February 5, 2020 at 11:30 AM EST
The sea of red could soon be dotted with specks of white.
February 5, 2020 at 10:30 AM EST
Police chase ends on parade route
Before the parade began, a driver barreled through the barriers along the parade route on Grand Avenue, only feet from fans who already had gathered, according to The Post’s Annie Gowen, who is on the scene. Kansas City police slowed down the driver with stop sticks, flattened one of the car’s tires and surrounded the car.
Here’s another view that shows the car driving up the parade route, and police stopping the vehicle:
Fox 4 TV reported that at least one person was arrested and there were no reports of injuries.
A spokesman for the Kansas City Police Department said there were no weapons in the car and no indication of any terrorist activity.
KSHB News reported the driver was being investigated for driving while intoxicated.
“I would encourage everyone who is coming down to the parade to celebrate responsibly,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas (D) told the station. “Do not act like bozos like this fellow did.”
By Matt Bonesteel, Annie Gowen and Jacob Bogage
February 5, 2020 at 10:15 AM EST
Yes, there is a belt
As has become customary, there will be a belt on the parade route. It was initially modeled by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Super Bowl MVP.
Tight end Travis Kelce had it on Wednesday morning.
February 5, 2020 at 10:00 AM EST
Massive crowd expected; fans gather early
The crowds continued to grow throughout the morning.
The city took the lessons of the Royals World Series parade in 2015 to heart, particularly when it comes to fans’ needs to answer nature’s call. There were 200 portable toilets for the Royals parade, which drew around 800,000 fans, according to the Kansas City Star; there will be 700 for this one.
The parade will start at Sixth Street and Grand, snaking over two miles to Pershing, where it will turn west and end at Union Station.
By Cindy Boren