Sunday, January 22, 2017

Celebrating the Champions

Being in Greenville since the National Championship game has been surreal. The entire city and really the entire state is celebrating Clemson. There are billboards offering congratulations with Tiger Paws, there have been numerous newspaper articles and news stories - including an hour long segment earlier this week on WYFF4 called "Salute to the Champions". It has been insane. And I totally love it!

Almost as soon as we won the National Championship, there was word that there would be a parade and a celebration in Clemson to honor the team the following Saturday. As the week progressed, more details began emerging and the hum of plans turned into a deafening roar. Everyone was planning to go. They were reporting an estimated 50 - 60 thousand Clemson fans would show up. Clemson hotel rooms - all of them - were booked and there were concerns about parking with a basketball game going on the same afternoon and several other sporting events taking place on Saturday. Although the rough plans for this celebration were thought of way in advance of the game, you could tell the Athletic Department was scrambling to put it all together in a matter of a few days. They were pulling in the police forces from Easley, Anderson and all over the area to help with traffic and with the parade. 

The decision to attend the team celebration in Clemson was a no-brainer for us. We wanted to get the boys in on the action since they weren't there with us in person in Tampa. We wanted them to have memories of being in Clemson for this historic day and celebration. We roped in MaSha to come with us to have an extra set of hands and I'm glad we did! We did have to park far away and had a stroller for Ryan. We skipped out on the parade and went straight to the stadium, where they were broadcasting the parade live on the big screen and the news was broadcasting live as well. The scene was incredible! So many people showed up. The stadium wasn't to the point of looking like a sold out home game, but it definitely looked like a home game when we're playing a small Division II school. The entire lower deck was full and the upper deck was probably about halfway full.

Thomas carrying William
towards the stadium from
our parking spot at Y Beach

In front of the tiger at Littlejohn Coliseum


We got to see the parade on the big screen, we saw the former players and current players arrive at the stadium and walk down the hill. We got to hear from President Jim Clements, AD Dan Radakovich, the voice of the Tigers, Don Munson, some of the players - including Deshaun Watson, Ben Boulware, Carlos Watkins, Jordan Leggett and Jadar Johnson, and finally the celebration concluded with Coach Dabo Swinney. Some speeches were emotional, some were inspirational, some were reflective - everyone had their own style up there. I think everyone got a tear in his/her eye when Ben Boulware spoke and his voice quivered and everyone got a laugh when Jadar announced that he was nervous! All of the speeches were great and one thing that was repeated over and over is that "the best is yet to come". The future of Clemson football sure is bright!

In the stands!

Ryan, Thomas, Stokes, William and MaSha

Lots of people in the stadium!

Deshaun and Ben
They were showing the parade on the jumbotron

Dabo and Kathleen Swinney

About to arrive at the hill

Players starting to come in

Deshaun made friends with this sweet little girl
I almost died when she gave him a kiss on the cheek!!! Too sweet!

Deshaun coming down the hill

Christian Wilkins 
Christian on the hill

He's crazy

Hunter Renfrow

Dabo holding up the crystal football trophy

Dabo holding up the National Championship trophy

Deshaun's speech

Ben Boulware's speech


CJ Spiller was there, too!

So many people!

"O'er the mountain height"

At final count, they estimated that approximately 70,000 tiger faithful showed up to celebrate and honor our National Champions. That's just amazing. 

Stokes did not show great patience for sitting still for long and got a bit whiny and and rowdy, but he was apparently tired and ended up falling asleep in MaSha's lap. Yay! William was a bit challenging at some points as well, but other than that, it was good. We ended up carrying all of the boys most of the way back to the car (and it was a long walk) but exercise is good and my biceps were sore for a few days! 

We knew Clemson would be a mad house in all the stores and restaurants so we opted to go to Mutt's Barbecue in Easley to stop for lunch. They have a delicious buffet and kids under 4 eat free - SCORE! We all had a huge lunch and then came back home, fat and happy. It was a fun...and exhausting day! It was one that we won't forget anytime soon! Let the celebrations continue! I mean, we're the official champions until the next National Championship game in January 2018. ;)

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