By Alex Lloyd Gross
Thousands of people jammed center city today, April 8 2016 to cheer on the Villanova Wildcats as the brought home the first NCAA National Championship in 31 years. The city honored the team with a victory parade down market street , culminating with a short ceremony at Dilworth plaza. The city expected a few thousand people to come out of their office buildings, wave and then go back to work. They were totally unprepared for the onslaught of people that came from all over the region to be a part of this event.
A conservative estimate would be about 75,000 people crammed both sides of Market Street from 21st Street to City Hall to catch a glimpse of the team. The original plan was to have the team get off their buses at 17th Street, shake hands with the crowd and then get back on the bus for the duration of the parade. As soon as the parade stepped off, that plan was scrapped. It was deemed unsafe to do that due to the sheer volume of people, so the team instead stopped and tossed out some t shirts, bracelets and rally towels to the crowd. As the parade snaked it’s way down Market street, thousands tried to follow the parade and meet the players.
Prior to the start of the parade, enterprising quick buck artists took to the streets hawking anything with a Villanova logo on it. Some were letting t shirts go for $5.00 each, and the competition among these guys was fierce. Probably the t shirts might last two or three wash cycles. Once at Dilworth Plaza, the team tossed out a few hundred more, for free. The key players got up to speak. The ceremony lasted about 30 minutes. None of the players speeches lasted more than a few minutes.