If you ever questioned how important and how beloved the Philadelphia Eagles are by their city, they had two million people show up to their Super Bowl parade, according to ESPN. That’s 1.2 million more people than Pope Francis had for his visit in 2015, according to Metro.
While it is unknown how many people came to the parade from outside the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware area, just about everybody knows at least one person who took a flight or at least made a long drive to Philly on short notice to celebrate with the fan base.
Shannon Santangelo was one of those people, but she didn’t fly in from a Chicago, Texas or California, which are all long trips in their own right.
She flew in from London, England.
Santangelo, a Cabrini College alumna from the class of 2009, grew up around Philadelphia and in the household of diehard Eagles fans. Santangelo lives and breathes for her Birds.
“As long as I can remember, I’ve been an Eagles fan,” Santangelo said.
After studying abroad in London as a junior in college, she knew that that was where she belonged.
“I always said, ‘One day, I will make sure I move back to London and work there,’” Santangelo said.
She got her wish after she graduated. Now she is the Operations Lead for Make Shift Community Limited (LLC) which is a property development company.
Santangelo and her fiancé, Nick, watched the Super Bowl at a party in London. The game started at 11:30 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and didn’t end till around 3:30 a.m. on Monday morning. Santangelo couldn’t take off of work the next morning, but she didn’t care. Her Birds had a chance to make some noise against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
And they did just that.
“After they won, I just started to cry,” Santangelo said. “It’s not just you waiting for them to win; it’s your whole family. My mom-mom is 93 and I always told her that she would live to see the day when the Eagles win the Super Bowl. I was just so happy.”
Santangelo didn’t know how realistic it was for her to come back to the States for the parade, a parade she waited all of her life for. Her fiancé, Nick, encouraged her to make it happen.
“You need to be there,” Nick told her.
There were a few obstacles Santangelo had in her way of getting back to the City of Brotherly Love. The first was finding a reasonably priced flight so that the trip was affordable. After that, she had to talk to her boss about taking a few days off.
“I said, this is a once and a lifetime opportunity and I have always wanted to be there to experience the parade and I completely understand if you say no, but it would mean the world to me if I can have off for the rest of the week,” Santangelo said to her boss.
Her boss agreed she should go and celebrate with her family.
Santangelo stayed at her friend’s house in Philly on Wednesday night once she got to the States and was ready to develop a game plan for the next morning, which was sure to be one of the craziest travel days in Philadelphia’s history.
On Thursday, Santangelo walked to the Broad Street Line from her friend’s house and road it for two stops and then met up with some of her Cabrini friends pretty easily after getting off the subway. Once they got together, they headed down to the Philadelphia Art Museum, the final destination for the parade, to get a good spot for the festivities.
Even with the frigid temperatures and excessive standing in place, the parade blew away her already high expectations.
“I remember going to the Phillies parade back in 2008 during my senior year at Cabrini. This one was so different,” Santangelo said. “We didn’t eat anything for seven hours. We didn’t drink for seven hours. We didn’t use the bathroom for seven hours. But still, it was better than I expected.”
“People were so nice and friendly. That spirit of Brotherly Love was so present.”
The spirit was in the air in South Philly that morning. Multiple jumbotrons were playing Super Bowl LII right by the Art Museum steps in anticipation of the floats that would soon be parading their way down the street as the team full of underdogs made their way to the final stop of the event.
“To see the Lombardi Trophy just a few feet in front of you is just surreal,” Santangelo said. “You had that feeling of, ‘Is this really happening?’”
One of her other favorite parts was hearing Eagles center Jason Kelce’s speech on the Art Museum steps.
“The fans loved it. They felt like he was saying everything they were thinking,” Santangelo said. “I think that quote, ‘An underdog is a hungry dog and hungry dogs run faster’ will really stick with us because we have always been the ultimate underdog and the whole story is amazing.”
Now the Eagles are here, on top of the football world. Santangelo thinks that they could be here to stay for a while.
“Why can’t [this victory] be the new norm?” Santangelo asked. “Why is it that only the Patriots are capable of this seemingly impossible thing of winning year after year and bringing the Lombardi Trophy seemingly to Boston every year? Why can’t we go into next year even stronger and hungry for another win and celebrate like this time and time again?”
Santangelo and the Eagles fans are ready and looking forward to next season.
Santangelo said, “I think they restored this belief and faith that this doesn’t have to just be this one-time thing.”