The busy metropolitan streets of Miami came together in honor of the undefeated Miami Hurricanes football team.
Beginning promptly at noon on Friday, over 10,000 fans took time off from work or school to enjoy a tickertape parade on a day proclaimed by local Miami politicians as “University of Miami Hurricanes Football Day.”
From buildings’ rooftops over six tons of shredded paper fell onto the streets packed with cheering fans.
The celebration started at Bayfront Park, and traveled down Flagler. The procession continued until it reached the county courthouse.
The parade caravan consisted of convertibles, pick-up trucks, and fire trucks. Each vehicle was heavily covered with mounds of shredded paper and filled with massive football players, their coaches, and their families.
Head Coach Larry Coker and his wife Dianna rode in a 1959 canary-yellow Dodge Custom Royal, providing one of many highlights of the day’s festivities.
“[The parade] was like a movie. I thought I was a gladiator coming back from Rome,” said offensive lineman Joel Rodriguez. Awestruck players like Rodriguez took in the excitement and waved to their fans.
Meanwhile, other players went one step further, dancing in the streets and hurling piles of the tickertape paper at one another, and any fans willing to participate in the melee.
Riding together, team leaders quarterback, Ken Dorsey, and safety, Ed Reed, took turns displaying the national-championship trophy to the crowd.
When the parade came to its final destination, the players hopped out of their vehicles and made their way to the main stage which was set up on the steps of the county courthouse. While walking the short distance from the cars to the stage many players stopped occasionally to sign autographs and take pictures for fans.
Once everyone from the parade was properly seated on stage, the next event of the UM Football Day began.
Speakers at the courthouse rally included Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas, Miami commissioners, Joe Sanchez and Johnny Winton, University of Miami President Donna Shalala, Athletic Director Paul Dee, Head Coach Larry Coker, and trophy bearers, Dorsey and Reed.
Although city politics came into the picture at one point when the crowd booed Alex Penelas. The attention was mostly focused on the team.
The crowd gave their loyalty and complete support for rookie coach, Larry Coker. Coker had to wait until the cries or “Larry! Larry!” died down, just to be heard. In his speech Coker had nothing but good things to say about the City of Miami and his team. Coker praised his team, commenting that they had won with “class, dignity, and respect.” The perfect ending to the perfect season.
The day’s events ran smoothly and the parade was a tremendous success according to all those in attendance.
Unfortunately, since classes at UM went on as scheduled, few students were on hand to attend the occasion.
While news helicopters hovered above from a distance, covering the event for their respective television networks, students were allowed to watch the parade on television with what little time they had in between classes.
When asked what he thought of the decision to maintain the class schedule and not participate in a Dade-wide school holiday, linebacker Jonathan Vilma commented that he “would have liked to see students given the day off from school; but that’s beyond my control. It’s [President Shalala’s] school; she does what she wants with it.”
Now that the football season is officially over, fans and players look to the future for what is to come of the team.
Next season, the Hurricanes will lose several key players such as Clinton Portis, Ed Reed, Jeremy Shockey and Phillip Buchanon. The Hurricanes hectic 2002 season will include face offs against top teams and rivals Florida and Tennessee.
While fans are already excited over Sportsline.com’s prediction of another championship season next year, players look forward to some time off from football.
Vilma plans to catch up on the sleep he missed out on during the fall. Meanwhile offensive linemen Brett Romberg looks forward to working out and spending quality time with his new puppy.