My friend awaited my response as I attempted to process an unexpected Monday night phone call.
The Royals had just won the World Series the Sunday before with a 7-2 Game 5 victory over the Mets in 12 innings. Of course I had stayed up to watch, but even though I?m a Royals fan, I had never seriously considered the possibility of attending the parade.
That is, until the phone call. Two of my friends were taking off work to drive up to Kansas City? Did I want to join?
The day of the parade happened to be my birthday. After some consideration, I agreed this might be as good a way as any to celebrate.
Tuesday morning we set out for KC in time to arrive about an hour before the start of the parade. We talked excitedly about the day ahead?getting to see our favorite players and their families, taking photos, and helping celebrate the Royals? first World Series title in 30 years.
As we neared Kansas City, traffic slowed to a crawl. We spent half an hour or more on the exit ramp alone. People abandoned their vehicles on the grass along the interstate in favor of walking.
By the time we parked at Kemper Arena, it was 12:30. We took a shuttle downtown, and quickly gave up on seeing the parade as a glance left down the side streets we passed showed they were filled with people. We didn?t stand a chance at getting close enough to see.
Instead, we decided to head straight to Union Station for the rally. Along the way, we met people who warned, ?It?s not worth it. You won?t see a thing.? Still, we pressed on through the crowds, exiting the doors of Union Station just 15 minutes before the start of the rally.
There we blended into a sea of blue. People stood on rooftops and climbed trees and buses. I had literally never seen so many people in one place.
We settled for a location to the side of the stage. The big screen wasn?t pointed our direction, and the speakers didn?t carry to our location. When the crowd cheered, we?d join in without knowing what was said. My calves got a workout because standing on tip toe was the only way I could see?and even then, only if the masses in front of me shifted their heads to give me a split-second view through to the stage.
It was easy to feel sorry for myself. Here I was, standing among hundreds of thousands of people and not able to see the one thing for which I came. In fact, most of the day had been spent walking or waiting. I?m not a fan of crowds and was more than a little stressed.
When the rally ended, we made our way back to the shuttle drop-off, where people surged forward with the arrival of every bus. We stood and waited for over an hour before deciding to set out on foot for a 40-minute walk back to the car. Walking at least gave us something to do.
We discussed our disappointment as we walked. Surely the day hadn?t turned out as any of us hoped. We thought we?d be able to see just a little bit better. We thought we?d get there in time for the parade.
But despite the disappointment, we reminded ourselves that we were part of history.
We were there when the Royals hoisted their championship trophy, when the crowd chanted, ?Let?s go Royals,? when the confetti fell from the sky amidst massive cheers. Even though the day didn?t turn out as planned, a simple shift in perspective made all the difference.
Janae Rempel is sports editor at the Free Press. She can be reached at Janae@hillsboro?freepress.com.