Steve Paul

Steve Paul: Blue is the color of civic joy and harmony

Parade watchers crowded sidewalks and rooftops on Tuesday as Kansas City celebrated the Royals’ World Series championship
Parade watchers crowded sidewalks and rooftops on Tuesday as Kansas City celebrated the Royals’ World Series championship paul@kcstar.com

Well, that was a blast. The week that was. A week that will never happen quite the same way again.

Last Sunday night, everybody knew, when Matt Harvey walked Lorenzo Cain to start the top of the ninth inning in Game 5 of the World Series, that the Kansas City Royals would return home with the trophy.

And nobody knew what a sight we would behold on Tuesday when a joyous mass of humanity painted the streets of Kansas City blue.

Several intertwining narratives developed in the days following the Royals’ victory over the New York Mets: the irrepressible team that never gives up, never says die, that turns the act of sporting entertainment into a lesson for life; the baseball strategy that develops a team’s core on raw talent spotted in youth and nurtured for the long haul; the thought that over these last two seasons, the Royals have formed bonds in the community that span generations and life experiences, punctuated by that inspiring surge of blue unity during a parade and rally on Tuesday.

Some of us had to work, of course, but I managed to absorb enough of the sense and the details of Tuesday’s civic outpouring to form an indelible memory of the day, just like everyone else.

At times it felt surreal and dreamlike. All synapses were on high alert as the crowds gathered in the morning, long before the parade would begin at noon.

Over the next few hours, a stream-of-consciousness parade of imagery flowed by as I wandered around, took some photos and later watched the Union Station rally on the tube: confetti against a bright blue sky; a freckled mother huddling with her infant beneath a scaffolding off Grand Boulevard, like a baseball madonna and child; face-painted teens; families in lawn chairs; a couple of boys throwing a ball, pitcher to catcher, to kill time; waves of school kids happy to have the day off; my anarchist, insurgent musician friends who raided the parade route in New Orleans, second-line, brass-band fashion; the goofy and perfectly valid exaltations of Jonny Gomes on the rally stage.

From behind the lines, I caught only brief glimpses of a couple of Royals players as the parade passed The Star’s building on Grand. Luckily one of them was the unhittable Wade Davis, the relief closer whose contributions to the Royals’ postseason success cannot be overstated.

The aerial photographs of the crowds, especially the two-page wraparound The Star featured on Wednesday, were mind-boggling. It reminded me of that great photograph from space years ago of the Earth, the brilliant blue marble, awesome and somehow fragile at the same time.

Kansas City’s version was like a giant field of blue flowers, I heard a friend say. And this field of flowers symbolize nothing short of a blooming and booming city.

That was one of the other major narratives we’ve been hearing: how all of these things are coming together — the Royals’ golden moment, the city’s rebirth, the thrill of an electrified populace.

“As a dyed in the wool downtown KC guy, this picture made me smile,” Jay Tomlinson, an architect who lives and works in the Crossroads, exclaimed on Facebook. “All of these good folks now see our downtown as their family room. Gotta be a good thing.”

Yes, indeed. My Opinion colleague, Yael T. Abouhalkah, has pointed out the historical legacy and some of the logistical problems that the city should work to overcome the next time a few hundred thousand close friends gather in the urban core. (Post-season, 2016?)

But for one gorgeous and majestic fall day, at least, the sheer possibilities of this city took our breath away and stared us down until we were positively blue in the face.

Steve Paul: paul@kcstar.com, @sbpaul

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