Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Curse of Aaron Huang




When I heard there might be as many as 2 million (!) people at the Phillies' championship parade, and that even the Market Frankford Line would be hitting its upper bound of passenger capacity and then some, I decided that this was going to have to be a "Dada and Jada" excursion. No way this was going to work with a stroller; and Amy confirmed things when she said she was still wiped out from her illness, and that Aaron probably was going to want to stay home with her.

So I grabbed Jada from school and we popped underground at the subway stop right at her day care. If the cars were packed like sardines, there was literally one sardines' worth of space left in one of the cars. A crowd of people milling outside the subway didn't feel like squeezing into it, so I took it.

The three-minute ride was painful, since I had to hold Jada with one arm and a pole with another, trying not to thrash the people all around me too hard with every jolt of the train. At the next stop, the people between me and the door got pushed into me, as a new rush of passengers tried to board. One yelled back, "Hey, careful - there's little kids in here!" I appreciated that people were looking at for us.

We emerged at 13th Street, as police ordered no stopping at 15th due to way too much volume. Good for us, because the parade hadn't officially started, and I had a hankering for lunch at Reading Terminal Market. It was surprisingly not crowded there, anymore than the usual lunch rush, so thankfully we were able to find a table to scarf down a $4.75 plate of dumplings, egg rolls, and fried rice.

Then we headed back into the fray, and quickly hit a wall of people. We tried pinching closer to Broad Street via Chestnut, but we didn't get anywhere near the parade line. So we doubled back to Market near Juniper, where we had a pretty good sight line to where the parade was bending from eastbound on Market to southbound on Broad.

It was quite a scene. With every car, there were waves of roars, confetti everywhere, and red as far as the eye could see: red shirts, red caps, red face painting. I tried to squeeze in some footage, even as Jada was dangling on my neck. The Phanatic was the only member of the Phillies that I could pick out; it helps when you're larger than life and bright green. I'm pretty sure we saw players; we just couldn't make out which ones they were.

After the floats passed us, the problem presented us was that we were on the wrong side of the line, and would have to cross the line to get back to West Philadelphia. We made a circuitous route around the north side of City Hall, and I grabbed some more footage there, as the post-parade scene included all sorts of revelry and costumes. It was like it was Halloween; oh wait, it was.

West of City Hall, on Market Street, were tell-tale signs of a ticker tape parade: colored confetti and trash and people everywhere. We finally decided to walk all the way to 19th and try the trolleys there. There was no room on the first three but we scored a space on the fourth, made the transfer at 30th Street, and were safely back to West Philadelphia within minutes.

I bumped into a few familiar faces while we were down there – don't worry, guys, I'm not going to rat you out to your bosses, teachers, or parents – but otherwise it was Jada and me in a sea of strangers. And yet, we all shared in the love for one gloriously red afternoon.

Of course, the littlest resident of my house did not get baptized into this dizzying celebration. I'm trying not to think the thought, "Well, it's OK, there'll be another opportunity soon." The Curse of Aaron Huang? Nah.





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