The “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” streak is over.
The City of Brotherly Love (also known as the city of the boorish and profane when it comes to sports), was awash in emerald, pyrotechnics and vomit late Sunday into early Monday after the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII.
The historic Super Bowl victory over a fabled team that already won the title five times, including a 2005 nail-biter against the Eagles, left Birds fans screeching "Fly Eagles Fly" over the boom of fireworks dispersed into specks of golden confetti and the pops of champagne corks on random street corners dotting South Philadelphia.
On Broad Street, the atmosphere was electric as police cordoned off the city's main drag where fans flew flags, clinked beer bottles, chanted "E-A-G-L-E-S" and blared "We are the Champions" from a boombox. A megaphone-toting guy in head-to-toe green spandex rolled around in a shopping cart.
Kids up way past their bedtime shrieked "Let's Go!" Gangs of young men gave flying high-fives to their new, equally inebriated best friends. Nearby, laid-back police instructed a group of ladies flouting the city's open container law to stuff their cans in their purses.
Green light sabers sliced through the marijuana-tinged air as spontaneous hip-hop dance parties clogged sidewalks and performers gyrated on stacks of metal gates. Soggy championship T-shirts were on sale for $15 apiece. Motorists hanging out of windows seemed content to be in a bass-thumping traffic jam rather than sidestepping bottle rockets.
Downtown, the awning of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel collapsed after a dozen Eagles fans climbed aboard. A car was flipped outside the Hyatt at the Bellevue, forcing police to guard it. Fist fights broke out at City Hall. Fans looted a gas station (more junk food, really?) and ransacked the Macy's on Market Street. Closer to Chinatown, mounted police officers in riot gear tried to disperse a mob.
All the smoke, drum-banging, obnoxious air horns and helicopters circling overhead resembled a war zone, if not for Maria DiMarcino's silvery tiara.
"I always believed in them," said the lifelong South Philly resident, who is 64. "It's great for the morale of the city."
"Just look around," she added shortly after 10 p.m. "It's only gonna get bigger."
The Italian diva had it right. After midnight, the celebrations were still generally peaceful but entering nasty territory with multiple injuries reported.
A young man held up a sign of Gisele Bündchen, wife of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, wearing red lipstick with a finger in her mouth and tried to sic it on the crotches of passersby. Fans cursed Brady, while Jill Walters flashed a more polite placard: "Tom Brady is a crumb bum."
Walters, of Narberth, Pennsylvania, just knew "1,000 millionth percent" that the Eagles would earn the Lombardi Trophy this time.
"This team has been destined from the beginning," the 42-year-old said. "We get a bad rap. Sports epitomizes when everybody comes together."
Wearing a Vikings ensemble complete with chainmail headpiece, 28-year-old Frank Crane praised the Eagles for their relentless drive.
"I don't feel anything," he said. "I'm ecstatic."
Throughout the thrilling game, after every Eagles touchdown, hoots and firecrackers erupted over the tar roofs of cramped row homes. Details on the celebratory parade are expected to be announced on Monday.
None of this revelry is shocking in Philly. Scrappy Eagles fans, known as the most classless of all in football, regularly take mayhem to the next level with some combination of looting, streaking, beer-spraying, glass jar-hurling, knocking down traffic signals, and projectile vomiting on a policeman's kid. The old Veterans Stadium had to construct both a court and jail in its basement.
When it comes to the long-simmering rivalry between the underdog "iggles" and the smug Patriots, Delaware County native Tina Fey summed it up to perfection in a recent "Saturday Night Live" spoof.
“Like Eagles, we Philadelphians are swift, we are deadly, and our eyes are all a little too close together,” she declared in Philly English.
These are the same Eagles fans that will throw anything that’s handy, including cheesesteaks, batteries and even light-up bracelets to honor the dead. They beat up a politically incorrect man wearing a headdress because he was the mascot for the Washington Redskins. They cheered after Dallas Cowboys' wide receiver Michael Irvin suffered a career-ending neck injury.
They’re not above booing Santa Claus and pelting him with snowballs, as they did a half century ago when the Eagles played the Minnesota Vikings.
Before the NFL Championship game last month, Philly's "Crisco Cops" slathered street poles and signs in vain. Fans weren't deterred from scaling the poles after the Eagles demolished the Vikings 38-7. They also sucker-punched Vikings fans and police horses (plural), tossed Vikings paraphernalia into urinals and prevented mild-mannered Midwesterners from exiting the stadium.
A Vikings-hat wearing baby was treated to the bird — and not the majestic, soaring kind. Christmas trees were set ablaze, along with Brady’s jersey. A dune buggy was spotted scaling the famous "Rocky" steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
It was a markedly different scene of bleeding green hearts in 2005, when the Eagles were one field goal short in Super Bowl XXXIX against the Patriots. Shell-shocked Eagles fans with burning eyes cuddled pints and muttered their typically fatalistic logic: “Too good to be true." New England transplants, meanwhile, taunted them mercilessly.
On Sunday, so many Eagles fans flooded U.S. Bank Stadium in frigid Minneapolis it was like having a home-field advantage. Even with 20 seconds remaining in the game, sports announcers plugged the Patriots dynasty: "Don't count out Brady."
At home, a couple in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, got hitched in an Eagles-themed wedding complete with tailgaters. Bar owners were instructed to sell alcohol in plastic cups to customers in lines snaked around the block. Businesses near Frankford and Cottman Avenues — the hub of post-Eagles nuttiness in the Mayfair section of the city — were reminded to secure their property and keep their video cameras turned on.
In the week leading up to the Super Bowl, fans wearing their jerseys to the gym, to the bank and to white tablecloth restaurants were cautiously optimistic: “Will they do it this time?”
Paul Campanella's Pike Creek Automotive shop proudly displayed a sign: "We fix cars better than the Patriots fix games." Serpe & Sons Bakery's vanilla cupcakes came decorated with German shepherd faces in tribute to the underdogs. The Delaware Department of Transportation flashed highway warnings: "Fly Eagles Fly. Get Drunk. Get a DUI."
Philadelphia’s police commissioner pledged that the city wouldn't be busting out the cooking grease this time around.
Instead, they resorted to hydraulic fluid. That didn't stop 'em either.
Three people reportedly lost consciousness after they fell from light poles downtown late Sunday night.
Legacy of buffoonery
When the Phillies won the World Series a decade ago, 76 hard-partying people were arrested for robbery, police assault, arson, vandalism, trespassing and disorderly conduct and more. This was after then-Mayor Michael Nutter warned: "You can be joyous. You cannot be a jackass."
That victory over Tampa Bay ended a 25-year championship drought by the city's four major sports teams. The damage tally included uprooted trees, flipped-over planters and vehicles, a dismantled bus shelter and several terrified TV news reporters, who had their van rocked back and forth.
After the crowds had thinned, the city was bruised and piled high with trash. Emergency rooms reported brisk business from fans with broken bones. An eight-foot-high sculpture outside the Prince Music Theater tilted precariously at a 45-degree angle.
It was a similar scene in 1960, after the Eagles won the NFL Championship over the Green Bay Packers. Pumped fans ripped the wooden seats off bleachers and lobbed them — nails and all — at police until they received the green light to storm Franklin Field in West Philadelphia. Several officers were injured in the melee.
In 1974, when the Flyers took home the Stanley Cup, fans overturned SEPTA buses and teenagers streaked through the City Hall courtyard. Thirty-nine people were arrested in the city and dozens more in the suburbs. Police used billy clubs, dogs and even tear gas to scatter the unruly crowds.
The Flyers gave fans a repeat performance the following year, prompting nude men to stand proud on car roofs in South Philly.
And in 1983, following the Sixers championship, looters smashed store windows and hauled off $100,000 worth of jewelry. One man was killed after he fell off a flatbed truck.
A full accounting of this year's Super Bowl damage, including arrests, was not available in the wee hours of Monday morning.
Regina Griffin-Kelly, South Philly born and raised, predicted that the crowds at the upcoming Eagles parade will surpass the estimated two million people who attended the Phillies’ World Series parade in 2008.
"We're a football town," explained Griffin-Kelly, 54, wrapped in a bird-themed scarf. She has been an Eagles season ticket-holder since she was 11.
"We've suffered long enough."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.