The Boston Bruins will parade through the streets of their city on Saturday morning and early afternoon, celebrating their first Stanley Cup since 1972. The parade will be reminiscent of some of the other modern downtown parties we've seen in Boston, most recently in 2008 when the Celtics won the NBA title.
Players will ride duck boats from TD Garden, through the center of downtown past City Hall Plaza, down Boylston Street to Copley Square. And, just like in all of Boston's parades since 2002 when the Patriots won the Super Bowl, the players will not speak at the end of the route. It will just kind of... end, awkwardly.
That's by decree of the Mayor, Tom Menino, and some folks in town aren't happy about it. WEEI host Gerry Callahan questioned the decision on Friday morning.
I don't remember those rolling rallies where no one speaks, which means there has to be a speakers program. We're a bunch of sheep who say, 'Menino, whatever you say!' This guy tells us what's best for us and we go, 'Oh, thank you Daddy Menino.' That's not what's best, we should have a speakers program. They should have a big stage and big speakers and let everybody enjoy it, just like we did in '81.
It is wrong. Here's what's gonna happen: people are going to come to the parade, see [the players] go by and say, 'I think that's Marchand! Oh, no, no, that's Shane Hnidy!' And they're gonna go, 'Oh, now what? What do we do now?'
I have limited experience in attending championship parades, but I can say that this is my experience too. I drove home from Connecticut in 2008 for the Philadelphia Phillies World Series parade, and as awesome as the five hours I spent sitting on top of a phone booth at Broad and Federal were, and as awesome as the five minutes it took the floats to drive by were, once the last one passed by, I had the same feeling.
So uh, I guess we go home now?
And that's the thing -- that parade even had a speakers program. You needed a (free) ticket to get into the ballpark at the end of the route, where the team had a stage and speakers set up for speeches. Ask anybody their memory of the parade that day and you'll get the same answer every time: Chase Utley said the word f*ck.
I heard it.
On the radio from my car, driving back to Connecticut.
For a parade that an estimated one million people attended, 45,000 of them got to see the speeches at the end. There's no way you can gather a million people in one spot at the end of a parade route, but there's no reason you can't squeeze several hundred thousand near a stage in a giant public area.
Boston is uniquely equipped to do this, too, with several potential venues, including the awesome Hatch Shell, which sits on the Charles River and can fit at least 100,000 people inside. And other folks can gather on the Esplanade and Storrow Drive -- adjacent to the venue and within ear shot.
Instead, thanks to some strange decision from the Mayor's office, the City of Boston won't have any opportunity to hear from its Champs. (Oh, actually, there's an invite-only thing for 20 minutes at TD Garden before the parade begins. That might even be more insulting.)
When the players are able to speak in front of as many of the parade-goers as possible, it affords everybody the opportunity to at least have some interaction with their heroes. Waving at a guy from a sidewalk while standing on your tip toes just to get a peek at Zdeno Chara's arm isn't the most memorable of times.
Shaking players hands, touching the Cup even. You know, celebrating with your heroes like you're all actually part of the same community, not standing behind a rope on a sidewalk while they ride by more than 20 feet away behind a line of cops on bicycles.
I'm not saying that the ropes should be taken down and we should put players in convertibles again, although whatever fears made us change the routine for this stuff are probably irrational and ridiculous anyway. But it's obviously a different world, and I understand why the cordon is there between the players and fans at stuff like this.
Still, hundreds of thousands of fans are going to show up along the parade route in downtown Boston on Saturday morning, get the chance to watch their Stanley Cup heroes drive by for five minutes, and then they're going to go get lunch or whatever.
Frankly, it won't be all that memorable.