Copyright © 1998 Henrietta W. Hay
Did Somebody Mention the Broncos?
February 6, 1998
I had absolutely no intention of watching the Bronco Superbowl victory
parade in Denver last week. I had gotten my quota of excitement for the
week two days earlier during the game.
But Tuesday noon I turned on the television set and got hooked. I'm
not sure I ever saw anything quite like it, certainly not in this part
of the country. There were an estimated 650,000 screaming, cheering,
blue and orange jersey wearing, pompom waving maniacs. Mixed in the
crowd were fans with blue and orange hair and/or faces. There were
those in power suits celebrating on their lunch hours, old people and
babies in carriers and lots of kids ditching school. It was the
largest crowd in Denver's history, and certainly the happiest -- all to
see 53 guys who make their living running around a field and throwing a
football -- and doing it better than anybody else.
I am not an insane Bronco fan like many of my friends, but I have
watched them off and on for most of their 38 years. I even remember
when Woody Paige wrote, "...your football team, the Broncos, is not any
good." And I remember when they traded for a young graduate from
Stanford in 1983. He was, of course, expected to be walk on water, and
when he didn't, the Denver papers wanted to get rid of him. "Get a
quarterback," they yelled. They got one.
That stupendous parade last week was for a whole team, but mostly for
that young player no longer all that young -- John Elway, quarterback
and gracious gentleman. I don't think he is quite ready to be
President. Janet probably wouldn't let him. But Colorado would be
willing to make him King.
At my advanced age I consider a group of more than twelve people a
crowd, so I marveled at all those people willing to stand in a crowd
like that for up to five hours to watch a parade, no matter how
exciting. Why did they do it?
"Pure joy," said one friend who has participated in several huge
rallies in Washington and elsewhere. That said it all. It was a
wonderful, happy, carefree moment. We in Colorado have waited a long
time for this day and have suffered some major humiliations along the
way. But now we have won the Superbowl and the big, shining silver
trophy belongs to us. We needed heroes. We had them in that parade.
It was fascinating to watch -- from the comfort of my couch. The
players and their families in big open buses, John and Janet Elway and
their four children on top of a fire truck, Mike Shanahan smiling, Pat
Bowlen holding the beautiful silver trophy over his head, the Bronco
cheerleaders and even the white horse that celebrates touchdowns moved
slowly up Seventeenth Street from the Union Station through a wall of
fans. Waiting for the ceremonies, there was a sea of people from the
Capitol steps to the City and County Building.
Every rooftop had viewers. The television cameras couldn't show us
exactly who the people were who were lining the balcony of the Capitol,
but I strongly suspect there was no legislation passed that day. I saw
two men in tall chef's hats on the roof of the Brown Palace Hotel.
Wonder who got lunch. Oh well, probably there was nobody inside to eat
The parade and rally did not happen spontaneously. It was planned in
great detail, starting on January 6 after the Broncos beat Kansas City.
The plans were kept secret so as not to jinx the game. The city waived
permits, the Budweiser Clydesdales were ordered from St. Louis,
jumbo-tron screens used at rock concerts were put on hold in Chicago,
the city Public Works Department ordered blue and orange paint for the
streets. Had the Broncos lost, said Wendy Petty of the Broncos PR
firm, "it would have been the greatest event we never had,"
But they didn't and it was the "greatest event they ever had:" this
wonderful victory celebration. The fans are very much a part of the
Bronco story. How are they going to handle victory? They are probably
already planning to attend next year's parade.