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NK residents show their pride during victory parade | Slideshow

By BRIAN KELLY and LUCIANO MARANO

From all areas of Kitsap and Western Washington they came.

The 12th Man took over Seattle on Feb. 5 — nearly a million strong.

Jubilant fans, young and old, the longtime hopeful or brand-new bandwagon boosters, jammed the streets in Seattle’s downtown for a homecoming victory parade for their world champion Seattle Seahawks.

Eli Tooloee caught the 8:45 a.m. ferry to Seattle to see the parade with his friend, Patrick McMenamin.

“I had season tickets with my family this year for the Seahawks, so I feel like, I got to go to the parade to kind of see the end of it,” Tooloee said.

“And, it’s an excuse to have a big-ass party in the city. So why not?”

He was taking the day off from his job at Island Fitness, and he was well-dressed for the victory celebration, wearing Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s No. 3 jersey and a Seahawks flag (which he had bought from a homeless man outside CenturyLink Field before the game against the Saints) draped around his neck like a cape.

McMenamin had one word for the win that gave Seattle it’s first football championship in history.

“Awesome,” McMena-min said.

“It was probably the most dominating performance I’ve ever seen in the Super Bowl,” he said of the 43-8 shellacking Seattle hung on the Broncos.

All doubts were erased that Seattle would win, he said, when Percy Harvin ran the kickoff back 87 yards for a touchdown just 12 seconds into the second half. The dash to the endzone put the Seahawks in front, 29-0.

McMenamin, who was wearing the No. 25 jersey of much-talked about cornerback Richard Sherman, was taking the day off from classes at Seattle Central Community College.

McMenamin wasn’t the only one to take the day off school. School districts experienced a high rate of absences. The North Kitsap School District had close to 1,600 absences, according to district spokeswoman Jenn Markaryan. The Bainbridge School District reported 1,450 students didn’t come to school.

“Half of our school is here,” Adam Lemmon, a senior at North Kitsap High, said as he waited for the ferry to pull into Seattle.

Lemmon was with a group of 20 or so classmates.

“I’m here to support the 12th Man,” said Jillian Walkowski, a junior at the school, in reference to the Seahawks fans who have become synonymous with this spectacular 13-3 season.

Tim Reister of Poulsbo and his family — wife Buffy and sons Jared, 13, Lucas, 10, and Aiden, 7 — caught an early Bainbridge ferry to go to the parade.

“I wanted to create a memory for them,” he said.

The family said they were heading to the intersection of Fourth and Madison streets; friends who caught the 7:45 a.m. boat were saving them a spot.

“We’ll just see what happens and go enjoy everybody out there,” he said.

Many of those heading to the Super Bowl celebration said they were longtime Seahawks fans.

Transportation to and from the event proved tricky, no matter which way you chose to go.

More than 2,000 walk-on passengers boarded the 8:45 a.m. sailing from Bainbridge to Seattle alone, according to one ferry crew member.

Lucky enough to find a spot on the crowded boat were Kingston residents Shane and Sway-dee Simmons.

Sway-dee, 7, even brought a giant Seahawks flag to wave on the trip over.

“He couldn’t even sleep last night,” Simmons said the young fan.

Sway-dee said he thought that the Seahawks Super Bowl victory was “the best thing in the world,” and was going to try and catch a glimpse of Sherman.

He’s such a big fan, in fact, that Sway-dee told his teacher in advance that he would not be in class Feb.  5 because he was attending the parade.

Estimates of the crowd varied, from 750,000 north to nearly a million. Some fans admitted to having been outside saving a viewing spot since before 6 a.m.

Low temperatures and biting winds did nothing to abate the carnival-like atmosphere that pervaded downtown Seattle, with expressions of fandom running the gamut from simple hats and jerseys to face paint and full-body costumes.

The crowd along Fourth Avenue and adjoining streets swelled rapidly before the start of the parade. Curbsides were five people deep by 10 a.m., and by the delayed start of the parade just after noon, the crowds were 20 people thick along the street. Side streets were filled with people clear up to Fifth Avenue.

The cheers from the continually expanding crowd were enhanced by an ensemble of green plastic vuvuzelas, which were being sold up and down the street for $5 each until vendors quickly ran out.

When occasionally the cheering died down for a moment, somebody inevitably took it upon themselves to start things up again with a loud cry of “Sea!”

To be answered by a chorus from the other side of Fourth Avenue, “Hawks!”

And the fervor began again.

— Herald reporter Kipp Robertson contributed to this story

 

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