Kansas City suspended ordinary life Tuesday as throngs of Royals fans jammed downtown to watch the World Series victory parade.
How many people lined the 2.3-mile route for the noon parade?
Perhaps 500,000 people, as estimated by the Kansas City Sports Commission, or up to 800,000, an estimate offered up by Mayor Sly James. There were so many people that wireless services slowed or became unusable. So many that fans were delayed at shuttle pickup spots when buses were overwhelmed by the unexpected turnout.
And so many cars that drivers unable to get into gridlocked downtown parked on highway shoulders and the grassy verges beyond.
Real life sometimes intruded, too. Before the rally at Union Station began at 2 p.m., ambulance crews already had transported 25 people for heart problems, pregnancies, a long fall and other issues, said Kansas City Fire Chief Paul Berardi.
But the many, many thousands who lined the parade route — in ranks 20 deep or more in places, standing on roofs where they could — saw the boys in blue ride by waving to thunderous applause under a perfect autumn sky.
And they did it peacefully. As of 4:30 p.m., police reported only three arrests at the parade and rally at Union Station.
The day started early for many:
8:35 a.m. Ilus Davis Park near 10th and Oak streets. Mike Wilson, 44, and his 8-year-old son Hunter Anderson of Raymore are honoring the Royals by tossing a baseball across from City Hall.
“I just wanted to give him the same experience I had in 1985,” Wilson says, recalling the last time the Royals had a World Series championship and parade.
8:45 a.m. 13th and Grand. The Merideth family of Olathe had staked out a great viewing spot by 8 a.m.
Although most schools in the area canceled classes Tuesday, theirs — Prince of Peace — is in session, says Julie Merideth, who came with her brother-in-law, Shannon Merideth.
“So we all have a case of blue flu,” she says.
9:05 a.m. 19th and Grand. Three generations of the Campanelli clan from Shawnee have rolled up in a 42-foot RV. The treats are spread out. The chairs deployed. Family and friends are settling in.
“We do this all the time,” John Campanelli says. “We’ve got about 25 people, family and friends.”
John says he had to scout for a place to park the big rig, but found a willing property owner. In the early morning he blocked out a row of seats on the east side of Grand.
10:15 a.m. Ninth and Oak. For Charles Waddell, getting a good spot was a no-brainer.
“I just camped out all night long,” says the longtime Kansas City resident, sitting next to a backpack and rolled-up sleeping bag in a cluster of trees across from the federal courthouse.
“It was pretty peaceful until about 6 this morning.”
10:38 a.m. 11th and Grand. Audrey Neuhauser, 21, and her 2-year-old daughter Myla left with friends by 7 a.m. from Overland Park to get their front-row seat.
“She doesn’t really know what’s going on,” Neuhauser says of her little girl, “but she can say, ‘Let’s go, Royals.’ ”
Sure enough, Myla hears the now familiar cue and babbles, “Let’s go, Royals.”
10:45 a.m. 11th and Oak. Jim and Debby Lyons thought it would be nice to avoid the hassles of parking downtown, so they headed to the shuttle stop at Metro North.
But the Liberty couple got a rude awakening. “It was crazy,” Jim Lyons says. “There were people lined up all over the place.”
They took a chance and drove themselves..
10:48 a.m. Pershing and Grand. Whitney and Chris Zeiler of Greenwood and their four children walked about a mile for the prime real estate of the lawn at the Westin Kansas City at Crown Center.
“We brought plenty of snacks and bottled water, and we loaded up on bling,” Whitney Zeiler says. “We have necklaces and crowns and fake mustaches.”
After all, who knows when all this might happen again?
10:50 a.m. 17th and Grand. Braxton Keil, 4 months old, of Lone Jack has a great spot to watch the parade, and he deserves it. His mother, Britney Keil, says she and her husband, Michael, conceived Braxton during the Royals’ 2014 playoff run.
“He’s a Royals baby boomer,” she says.
10:51 a.m. 13th and Grand. Sara Stueve, 23, positions her 8-year-old niece Taylor on her shoulders and offers a bit of advice: “You need to go crazy if you’re going to be up there. Arms up!”
Taylor’s mom, Kristen Martinek, 29, says she has strict instructions from her own mom: “If Hosmer touches my hand ... I can’t wash it until she touches it.”
10:55 a.m. Truman and Oak. Dennis King, 68, of Shawnee scales the ladder to the top of the school bus he typically drives onto the infield for NASCAR races.
“Got down here at 7 a.m.,” he says. Pulled right into a spot at Truman and Oak.
“Thirty people in our party!” Friends. Neighbors. Relatives.
From their perch, they can see all the way north up Oak, over the heads of tens of thousands.
11 a.m. 16th and Grand. History is repeating itself for Rodney Pettit of Belton. Thirty years ago, Pettit’s mother parked him in a stroller at this very corner to witness the Royals’ first World Series championship parade.
So this morning, Pettit, 31, has brought his own son, 10-month-old Hank, to the same corner.
And it’s Pettit’s mother, Donna Pettit, who holds Hank in her arms.
11:10 a.m. The Link. One of the best places to see the parade route from above is the overhead walkway connecting Crown Center with the Sheraton Hotel, and it’s security guard Sean Leak’s job to keep The Link from bottling up.
“After you get your picture, you gotta keep moving,” he bellows, but with a smile on his face.
11:20 a.m. 13th Terrace and Oak. Pat McKenzie, a 55-year-old Kansas City police detective, hauled his 39-foot Keystone Raptor trailer downtown Monday night. Shooed away from 20th and Grand, his clan set up camp just east of the Sprint Center about 11 p.m.
About 2 a.m. Tuesday, there were negotiations with a parking lot owner for $20 and attendant access to the trailer’s bathroom. The group was set.
11:55 a.m. 11th and Grand. With parade time near, sisters Alysa Pfleiderer, 29, and Gabrielle Tarantino, 20, of Kansas City are pondering some essential questions.
Aware that they are supposedly positioned near confetti cannons, Alysa asks, scanning the tops of nearby buildings, “Where are they?”
The thinking is, they’ll soon find out.
12:12 p.m. Truman and Oak. “Oh! Here they come!” says Tory Douglas, 12, of Independence, leaning far out over the barricades on the bridge at Truman Road and looking north up Oak.
“She’s not kidding!” Nick Dixon, 14, says.
But they are joking. All morning long they’ve been fooling Jessie Lewis, 29, who’s soon to become Nick’s new mom, last year having adopted Nick’s younger brother and sister out of foster care. Now, Nick.
With no room to see, people lug at least a dozen stepladders to the eastern corner of Truman and Oak to see over the throng.
12:15 p.m. Oak and 13th Terrace. The first to get cheers from the crowd on this stretch of the parade is Kansas City police officer Jacob Ramsey. He took orders from the crowd on the east side of Oak Street and then fetched cotton candy from the west side.
12:20 p.m. Ninth and Grand. The crowd is dozens deep where the parade makes its first turn east — a lot more slowly than, say, Lorenzo Cain rounding third.
So beyond the front row of the ramparts, the best views are from offices overlooking the route.
Like Stephanie Elliott on the third floor of the Scarritt Building.
She’s happy to share her office window with her daughter, Megan Machen, who has the day off from teaching seventh grade at Pleasant Ridge Middle School in the Blue Valley district.
12:25 p.m. Truman and Oak. The parade arrives. Police sirens wail. The massive crowd erupts and roars. Arms holding cellphone cameras jut into the air. In minutes a cannon on the corner bursts forth a blizzard of blue and white confetti.
Dignitaries roll past. Then, Royals Hall of Famer George Brett.
“What’s up, Brett! What’s up!” Isaiah Barr, 23, of North Kansas City bellows over the heads of others. He turns to his buddy, Marvin Sanders, 26. A night-shift worker, Barr has yet to go to bed.
“That’s the original there,” he says of Brett. “Original. Original gangsta’!”
12:29 p.m. 13th and Grand. Justyn Lindsay, 6, steadies himself on the arms of a stroller. He needed something to give himself a little boost so he could see the players. Still, he has to crane his neck to see Lorenzo Cain go by with his family.
Justyn’s mom, Jessye Edington, 26, says he’s been rooting for the Royals all year.
So why did he want to come out this day, and hop up on stroller arms just to get a peek at the players?
“Because they won the World Series,” he says quietly.
12:35 p.m. 13th and Oak. “Yay! Salvy!” yells Emma Calderon when the crowd favorite, Salvador Perez, finally tools by near the end of the parade as it passes on the east side of the Sprint Center.
Ten members of the Calderon family waited for more than three hours to cheer the catcher and his club.
“This is history,” declares Emma Calderon, grandmother to most of those crammed up against a barricade.
12:40 p.m. Union Station. Some people are trying creative ways to get through the crowd for the upcoming rally: “Union Station crew coming through.” “Cold beer coming through.” “Dance team coming through.” Not working.
12:45 p.m. Truman and Oak. Eric Hosmer rolls by.
“That’s my man!” Maria Letscher, 62, says, elated, standing three rows back from the bridge.
Like Hosmer, she’s of Cuban descent. She was born there. Her father, now passed on, began taking her to Cuban baseball games at age 3.
“I wish my dad could have been here,” she says.
12:45 p.m. 17th and Grand. Some parade watchers climbed into trees — one holds the Schauer family of Lee’s Summit, who found their perch about 11 a.m.
“I wish we had gotten here a little earlier,” says D. J. Schauer, accompanied by wife Erin and children Cooper, 5, and Lila, 3. “But this is a pretty good view.”
12:50 p.m. 11th and Grand. Here comes a moment at least 11 years in the making — that’s how long Quint Noland of Leawood and his wife, Liz, have had their Royals tickets.
No cellphone selfie here. He’s got his real honest-to-goodness camera poised above the crowd.
He looks in his viewer and there it is, manager Ned Yost in the bright sunshine, the actual golden World Series trophy glinting, the joyous swirl of blue and white confetti.
“Perfect,” Noland says. “Perfect.”
1 p.m. 16th and Grand. Connie Gilbert of Independence is concerned that her grandson, Michaelangelo, 7, won’t be able to see anything behind the crowd.
Michaelangelo has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which makes it difficult for him to stand for long periods. Gilbert tries giving him a boost, but he’s too much for her back.
But the crowd is accommodating. As the parade is about to roll through, Michaelangelo has eased his way to the streetside railing.
“I just asked politely,” Gilbert says. “I don’t care if I see. I just want him to see.”
1:07 p.m. Grand and Pershing. The parade is rolling by and Eric Stump can’t see a thing from where he is standing in the westbound lanes of Pershing Road. Too far back.
But he still figures it was worth the hassle of driving in from Shawnee and walking the mile and half from where he parked on Troost Avenue.
“No one will know 20 years from now” that he didn’t actually see the parade, Stump says. “But I can say I was at the parade.”
1:12 p.m. 20th and Grand. The parade was apparently a chance to scream like you’ve never screamed before, and 7-year-old Maddox Talley took full advantage as the players went by. He was in full throat for every “Let’s go, Royals!” chant.
His brother Hunter, 13, also got into it as catcher Perez approached, with the crowd chanting “MVP, MVP!”
And the blue-hair mohawks sported by Maddox and brother Landon, 9?
“We just decided that last night,” their mother, Jessica Talley of Adrian, Mo., said, laughing.
1:33 p.m. Grand and Pershing. Even if they can’t really see who is in the trucks rolling by, they take their cues from the ones in front.
“MVP! MVP! MVP!” they chant as Series’ most valuable player Perez rolls by.
Also giving direction is David Babcock. He drove in from Blue Springs and has a good enough view from atop a Chevy Traverse parked on Pershing Road that he is able to provide an informal play-by-play.
“An actual World Series trophy,” he says as manager Yost passes with the trophy in hand. “Way to go, Ned!” he yells, then hops down from the vehicle.
His own wheels?
“For a minute,” Babcock says with a grin.
2:38 p.m. Walnut and 20th. The parade is long over and the rally at Union Station has begun. But it took one car more than 30 minutes to drive 100 feet.
Linda Willis, 70, and three friends turned from Walnut to 20th and have come to a dead stop.
Willis and group say it took them three hours to drive in from Overland Park.
“We’d do it all again,” Willis says.
Contributing to this story were The Star’s Judy L. Thomas, Brian Burnes, Greg Hack, Lynn Horsley, Ed Eveld, Mike Hendricks, Scott Canon, Eric Adler, Laura Bauer, Alan Bavley, Sarah Gish, Joe Robertson, Dave Helling, Matt Campbell and Glenn E. Rice.