A sea of Villanova blue flooded downtown Philadelphia on Friday as the Wildcats celebrated their men's basketball team's NCAA Championship victory. Thousands of fans gathered along the five-block parade route, chanting “Let’s Go Nova” to the beat of honking fire trucks while also sporting tons of promotional products.
Folks wore T-shirts, hats, lanyards, and blankets while children waved flags and pennants, dribbled basketballs and munched on blue-dyed popcorn, all emblazoned with the Villanova logo. Dunkin Donuts handed out Villanova-logoed $2 gift cards and TD Bank set up a booth with bubbles, banners and other branded prizes. Even a furry friend named Crystal had a Villanova shirt on under her collar.
Among the mob of fans was Wendy Kinsey, procurement assistant director at the Villanova University for 25 years. A passionate season ticket holder, Kinsey was decked in ’Nova apparel from head to toe to blue and white polished fingernails.
“It’s been so positive and so uplifting on campus,” Kinsey said. Her mother, also a longtime supporter, passed away in January. She was cremated so Kinsey had her ashes placed in a marble box in her living room, and for every game, she faced the box toward the TV. “She didn’t miss a single game,” Kinsey said with a smile.
The team soaked in the cheers as blue confetti danced around City Hall during a rally following the parade. Coach Jay Wright thanked Mayor Jim Kenney for organizing the jubilant event. "We are honored to be a part of Philadelphia today and forever," Wright said.
In May, Debbie Pierzynski will be the first in her family to graduate from Villanova. Surrounded by her parents and brother, she said the atmosphere of the parade took her breath away. “It’s been hard to get the work done with all this excitement,” Pierzynski said. “But I couldn’t have picked a better time to graduate.”
Here's a look at the many promos and celebratory branded items at the championship parade.