Chiefs fans parade through downtown Lawrence to celebrate historic Super Bowl win
For the first time in decades, local fans of the Kansas City Chiefs had reason to tune in to the Super Bowl while wearing their brightest and boldest Chiefs red.
And boy, did they take advantage, packing all parts of Lawrence to cheer on the Chiefs to a 31-20 Super Bowl win over San Francisco.
Once the win became official, fireworks filled the sky in southwest Lawrence and hundreds of red-clad Chiefs fans paraded down the middle of Mass. Street, waving flags, high-fiving and hugging one another and chanting.
Some fans climbed the stoplights. Others rode on their friends’ shoulders.
“This was a long time coming,” KU junior Jon Felton said as he looked out over the sea of red. “I’m so grateful to be from Kansas City. What a night!”
Police officers on the scene told the Journal-World that Mass. Street was never officially blocked off.
As the crowd grew, there was some damage to the awning of the Acme T-shirt store at 847 Massachusetts St. and the stoplight on the northwest corner of Ninth and Mass.
Many local businesses had been preparing for the watch parties all day.
“We’re prepared for anything and we don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Joey Hurley, bartender at Lucia Beer Garden + Grill, which had half of its staff working and the other half on call throughout the night.
At Kansas Sampler in downtown Lawrence, 23-year-old Zach Alexander, of Lawrence, was one of many fans perusing the Chiefs merchandise. The local sports apparel store saw a steady stream of fans in and out the door throughout the day, which kept cash registers busy and left racks nearly empty by the time kickoff rolled around.
“This is amazing,” Alexander said. “It’s just a completely new experience. I’m used to going to Super Bowl parties and not really caring about the game, but this is different and it’s a lot of fun.”
Amy and Shane Hine, who made their way to town from Michigan to join their relatives for the big game, bought Chiefs stickers for friends back home and a flag for Amy’s office.
“We wanted to be where it’s happening,” Shane Hine said.
Added Amy: “It was a no-brainer. We’ve been talking about it all season. If they made it, we were going to Lawrence.”
Lawrence resident Ellen Kimmel, who simply wore black for the big game because, “I haven’t worn a Chiefs shirt yet and I didn’t want to change things now,” arrived at Red Lyon Tavern about 20 minutes before the doors opened and waited outside to make sure she got the spot she wanted.
Red Lyon owner Jerry Neverve, who remembers watching the Chiefs play in the first Super Bowl and win Super Bowl 4, said this year’s run was more of a rush than either of those.
“My eyes popped open at 5:30 this morning,” he said. “The excitement has been really fun.”
As the crowds gathered at various watch spots throughout the day, some fans were happier than others about their viewing arrangements.
“I’ve got the best seat in town,” said Jacke Sykes, 33, from her barstool at Louise’s Bar Downtown.
In a white, No. 88 Tony Gonzalez jersey, with her drink of choice in front of her and a TV a few feet beyond the beverage, Sykes prepped for the game with her friend Jay Draskovich, 41, owner and chef at Ta Co., who said he had been waiting for Sunday for a lifetime.
“I’m die-hard K.C. from the start,” said Draskovich, who grew up in Kansas City, Kan., and now lives in Lawrence. “I’m not a bandwagon fan by any means, and this has just been awesome.”
Megan Carlson, a server at The Roost on Mass. Street, went to work on Sunday decked out in a No. 87 Travis Kelce jersey and added a pair of colorful Kansas City Chiefs leggings to complete the ensemble.
Although Carlson said the big game didn’t do much to business on what already would have been a busy Sunday morning, she added that it was clear that the breakfast and brunch crowds on this particular Sunday all had a common agenda.
“There was a lot of red and yellow,” Carlson said. “People were definitely ready to support the Chiefs.”
One fan who took the challenge of wearing red and yellow to the highest level was 19-year-old KU student Noah Ginsberg, who watched the game with his father, Rick, at 23rd Street Brewery.
Wielding a giant red flag to get the crowd going, and decked out in Chiefs shorts, a red Patrick Mahomes jersey, a Chiefs cape, an autographed hat and Chiefs socks and shoes, Ginsberg grew more nervous with each snap.
“So far it’s been one heck of a game,” he said at halftime, with the teams tied at 10. “This is what the Super Bowl’s all about.”
Asked how he felt when the ball was kicked off and the game began, Ginsberg was honest.
“My fear was I didn’t want to get blown out,” he said. “I was thinking, ‘We’ve got to go score.'”
The Chiefs didn’t score on their first drive. But that did not keep them from doing what they’ve done best in these playoffs — come from behind to win.
Despite tying for their season low with 10 points in the first half, Kansas City scored 21 fourth-quarter points and crawled out of a 20-10 deficit in the final seven minutes to win their first championship since 1970.
According to multiple reports out of Kansas City, a parade to celebrate the champs is scheduled for Wednesday in Kansas City, Mo.
Kansas City finished the 2019 season with a 15-4 record, outscoring opponents in three playoff games, 117-75.
photo by: Nick Gerik