CINCINNATI - So, I'm now officially a veteran of the annual Findlay Market parade and, long after the barricades have been removed from the streets and the empty beverage bottles cleared from the garbage cans, I remain amazed.
In my career, there's really nothing that I haven't seen and I thought for sure that this would be just another cool event. But I was wrong. I've heard that close to 200,000 people showed up…just to celebrate the Reds' opener? That's 10 percent of the metro area!
This wasn't a homecoming parade – those are held on Saturdays…and draw much smaller crowds.
This wasn't a championship parade – those are held after the season.
This wasn't a bowl game parade – those celebrate teams usually foreign to that city.
This wasn't celebrating an Olympics – those take place once in a lifetime.
As the Good Morning Tri-State team rode down the parade route in our antique fire truck, I turned to Cincinnati natives Larry Handley and Adam Marshall and asked – half-jokingly – "is anybody at work today?" An endless sea of red that was multi-cultural, multi-racial, and multi-generational greeted us from start to finish; about half taking pictures or video, less than that raising their drink of choice in a unified toast. Each smile, each wave saying "Opening Day is here."
Is there any question that Reds fans are the most passionate and most loyal in sports? I can't imagine 200,000 New Yorkers packing the streets today to celebrate the Yankees or Mets' season opener. Or downtown Pittsburgh coming to a standstill to root on the Steelers…in early September. It seems silly to even put it into words. And yet, it's a tradition here in Cincinnati nearly 100 years strong and with no sign of going away.
Larry Smith is an anchor at 9 On Your Side. Watch him at the Live Alert Center on Good Morning Tri-State from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m., Monday though Friday.
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