The celebrations in Cleveland started Sunday night, and the elation is still going strong.
The city is rejoicing at the end of a 52-year drought without a single major sports championship. LeBron James and the Cavaliers, of course, took home the NBA title on Sunday.
Crowds spontaneously gathered in the streets after the big win. More hordes of people met the Cavs when they arrived from California by plane. And on Wednesday, the city held a midday parade — one that people started gathering for on Tuesday.
Witnessing the end of the Cleveland curse has been downright religious for some fans.
“A lot of biblical references here,” Mark Urycki of member station WCPN tells our Newscast unit, “when you talk about King James, who was known as the Chosen One, and then the Second Coming. … To deliver this championship is something very special.”
Urycki says he spoke to a season-ticket holder from the suburbs who said that driving into town for the parade felt like a “pilgrimage.”
“I talked to several people yesterday at the hotels telling me that it’s all Clevelanders, Ohioans and just Cavs fans from around the country who are flying home just to be here for this parade, because they kind of want to be part of this shared experience,” Urycki says. “It’s very emotional for people.”
Beautiful weather, plus high hometown emotions, fueled enormous turnout for the parade.
The Associated Press reports that the parade was slowed to a crawl by the sheer mass of people:
“Fans stood on rooftops, portable toilets and hung out of office building windows hoping to get a glimpse of James, who rode in a Rolls-Royce convertible with his wife, Savannah, and their three children. Near the start of the route and just feet from where his iconic, 10-stories-tall banner hangs, James stood and posed with his arms outstretched just as he does on the giant mural — life imitating art, the photo op of a lifetime.
“The parade’s start was delayed more than 30 minutes because of the swarming crowd, which blocked the streets near Quicken Loans Arena and prevented the open-air vehicles that carried the Cavaliers from getting to the staging area. Police used patrol cars and a mounted horseback unit to slowly clear the congestion so the celebration could continue.
“The crowd was packed so tightly that fans could reach out and high-five their heroes.”
How big of a deal is this parade?
The AP notes that back in 1964, when Cleveland last won a major championship, there was no special city party.
“After all, championships were routine,” the wire service notes. The Browns had won seven titles from 1946 to 1955.
Decades later, things were very, very different.
“Cleveland was so desperate for a parade that the previous one held for a sports team came in 1995 after the Indians made it to the World Series for the first time since 1954,” the AP writes. “They lost to Atlanta.
“A parade for second place.”
But that was then. This is now.
And today, Cleveland’s a city of champions.