Wild hordes of crazed fans crowded into downtown Oakland Friday morning to catch a glimpse of the Golden State Warriors’ championship parade.
With an expected crowd of 500,000 in attendance — and some estimates approaching one million — it was as hectic, chaotic, and frantic as could be expected, yet so delightful and enjoyable.
Alongside gleaming Lake Merritt on a gorgeous sunny day, waves of fans in blue and yellow gathered to salute the team that brought the Bay Area its first NBA championship since 1975.
Sitting on a ledge looking out onto the lake, Cliff McElroy fondly recalled the 1975 team and lamented the long wait:
“It feels wonderful to be here. I’ve seen a lot of championships a lot of early years in my life and then they went away for a long time. This is the first championship on the Oakland side of The Bay, which is totally different from San Francisco. These are our teams over here.”
Many young fans were also in attendance, brought by parents who wanted nothing more than for their children to experience this once-in-a-lifetime event.
Steve Schirado, a 42-year-old resident of Castro Valley was thrilled to have his two girls with him. As they blew on noisemakers and chanted, “Let’s go Warriors,” Schirado noted proudly:
“As you can hear, they’ve got spirit.”
Darmel Rahsaan, who recalls the days when for $9, “you could sit anywhere” at games, brought his two children — a two-year old and a six-year old. When asked how important it was to have his kids at the parade, Rahsaan responded:
“It’s very important. My children were raised here. My son – one of his first words was ‘Monta Ellis.’ It hurt my feelings when [he] got traded. It took five years for it to make sense but it finally made sense.”
“Making sense” is a vast understatement, with the trade giving Stephen Curry a chance to shine and spurring a three-year transformation that propelled the Warriors from bottom-dweller to NBA champion.
The last time Oakland celebrated a championship with a parade was in January of 1981 for the Raiders, an event that was attended by “several thousand” fans, according to the New York Times, and owner Al Davis wasn’t even present.
Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay
So were they ever ready Friday morning, with fans showing up as early as five in the morning and a guaranteed attendance of greater than the “several thousand” in 1981. The parade started at the corner of 11th and Broadway, turned onto Grand Ave. and back along Lake Merritt before concluding with a rally at the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center.
Long-frustrated fans turned up in droves, lined up several rows back on the sidewalk hours before the parade began, some climbing onto windows, light poles and trees to gain a prime vantage point.
As the clocked ticked into the early afternoon hours and a sea of Warriors colors crowded into the rally site after losing their collective voices screaming at buses with players, there was no doubt that the parade was a whopping success.
Just one lingering shadow hung over an otherwise exhilarating showcase: The fact that the Warriors will be moving to San Francisco in a matter of years.
Said Brian Mulhem, a fan since the 1960s and an employee at Oracle Arena:
“It’s a little bitter-sweet. I’m happy and jazzed here. But the fact that they’re leaving Oakland is sad. Oakland is out here in force today to support their team, and it’s being taken away from them.”