An estimated 700,000—more than the city's population of 635,000—welcomed the Seahawks home, without major incident.
In Seattle on Wednesday, I learned some surprising lessons along a four-mile parade route downtown. An estimated 700,000—more than the city's population of 635,000—welcomed the Seahawks home, without major incident. The event created imagery of a successful, shared community, worthy of any city-makers' dream.
1. Spontaneous, authentic "placemaking" with a purpose is often best. Attendees along the route waited through a late parade start in subfreezing temperatures. Spirited, orderly demonstrations were rampant, all rooted in a shared anticipation of the team's appearance, which united the crowd.
2. A robust, multimodal transportation network is key. From before dawn, it was clear that this was not a normal day. Buses, light rail, ferries, and cars all had varying degrees of trouble getting to and from downtown. Those who could walked to viewpoints from adjoining neighborhoods. It was not perfect, but the lesson is simple: without regional transit in place, attendance by much of the team's suburban fan base would have faltered in the face of limited parking.
3. A varied crowd of all ages makes a difference and can enhance a downtown core experience. Officially, most regional school districts did not allow for a holiday. In Seattle, attendance policy issues were delegated to individual school principals. Across the region, some schools reported illness call-ins—for both students and teachers—as high as 25 percent. Accordingly, the crowd composition was remarkably diverse, and projected the remarkable aura of a potential once-in-lifetime experience.