Before this last Wednesday, the largest crowd I had ever been in was a Giants road game I saw in Denver in 1993, the Rockies' expansion year, in Mile High Stadium. This was before Coors Field was built. The attendance that day was 72,431. I can't remember any other big events I attended with a crowd that large.
But Wednesday was a special day. At the last minute, early in the morning, we decided to go to the San Francisco Giants World Series victory parade. About 1 million fans showed up. Driving into The City was out of the question, so we had to take public transportation, on the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train. We picked the furthest station in our town because the parking situation is always much better. We drove by the closest station on our way there, and there were hundreds of people walking down the sidewalks of every street we could see, all dressed in orange and black. Wow. On to our destination station. It was packed, and a line for train tickets was about a hundred yards long. Ouch. On to the last station on the line, in Pittsburg. Same story. The line was through the station, over the freeway, and about 50 yards out into the parking lot. I used to live a block away, so I knew where to park. As we entered the station lot, some fans turned us around and told us to go to the Safeway grocery store on the corner, as they sold BART tickets at a discount. That line was five minutes long. Thank you, whoever you are!
We proceeded into the station and to the furthest extent of the station to catch the last car. We saw a friend, Sean, who works in the City, and had to go back home because none of the vanpool vehicles he took to work every day were picking anybody up. The train completely filled up two stations later, and everybody else along the line was out of luck. It was a wall of orange inside the train. The train stations were so filled with people eager to get on the trains, the operator couldn't close the doors. It took a while to even get to San Francisco.
We exited at the Civic Center station, the closest station to the parade end destination. Once out, we entered a sea of people semi-jockying for position. We didn't arrive until after the parade had started at the other end, and it would be a while before it got to us. I had a radio, so I was able to tell when they were going to turn the corner onto the final street on the way to city hall. The kids couldn't see, as they were too small, and even I couldn't see because we were too far away. We could hear the crowd gain in volume around the corner as the parade approached, and when it hit our area, a huge roar erupted. The caravan angled away from us, and I think I saw announcers Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow, and Lincecum's hair. That was it. The kids were tired, and I was satisfied. A much needed ice cream cart passed by as we were leaving, so that bought us maybe a half hour more in a celebratory atmosphere.
We missed the speeches and all, but saw them later on TV. As the kids were eating ice cream on a low planter wall, a few people down was a lady that sits behind me in my Wednesday night class. How cool. She wore her colors all semester, and I would see her later that evening. She recorded a bunch of stuff on her Flip. Anyway, the kids finished their ice cream and we headed back toward BART. But one problem: there were thousands of people heading out to the plaza. As many people as were leaving, many times more were just arriving. The station was a zoo, and one exit was completely shut down due to heavy foot traffic. We got a seat on the train home, trying to beat what commute there would be, and made it home without a problem. It was exciting just to say we went, and I'm sure I'll look back on the parade with a sense of completion. What a season.