SEATTLE -- More than 700,000 cheering Seahawks fans crowded downtown Seattle streets on Wednesday to celebrate the franchise's first Super Bowl victory.
So many people streamed into town, the parade started about 40 minutes late because the team buses had a hard time making their way to the starting point near the Space Needle.
Many commuters were turned away from mass transit or were forced to wait in long lines to get on trains, buses and ferries. The Bainbridge Island ferry was reporting a one boat wait even for foot passengers, which is extremely rare.
Seattle Public Schools reported 565 teachers absent out of nearly 3,000 teachers total. They said on average, there are between 270-400 teachers out per day. A total of 13,523 students reported absent out of 51,000 students enrolled in the district. For comparison, there were 2,770 student absences on Tuesday.
The 12th Man packed the 2-mile route, wearing jerseys, blue and green wigs, waving flags, scarves and signs, and erupting into song and dance.
The Washington National Guard escorted many of the players in Humvees and other military vehicles under blue skies and freezing temperatures. Others rode in Ride the Duck amphibious vehicles used to take tourists around the city.
The MVP of the parade was Marshawn Lynch, who stood on the hood of a Duck vehicle, tossing Skittles to the crowd and taking pictures of the cheering crowd.
The players took turns holding up the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Crafted by Tiffany and Co., the trophy is named for famed Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. The trophy, which depicts a regular size football in kicking position, is made entirely of sterling silver, is 22 inches tall and weighs seven pounds.
Governor Jay Inslee asked for a "Moment of Loudness" at 12:12 p.m. and Boeing's 747-8 airplane painted in Seahawks colors did a fly-by over the stadium.
The parade ended at CenturyLink Field, where a ceremony celebrated the team's first Lombardi Trophy in 38 seasons.
Coach Pete Carroll took the podium saying "Sea-HAWKS! Sea-HAWKS! Sea-HAWKS!"
"Once again, today, the 12th man demonstrated an extraordinary gift that they have; the love, the spirit, that they showed us at this parade today and this celebration is beyond belief and we thank you so much for that," he said.
Carroll thanked the team, saying: "They have come together to do something special and it's just not one year."
"We're just gettin' warmed up, if you know what I'm talking about," he said.
"It's extraordinary: this relationship that we have with the 12s, there's nothing like it in professional sports, maybe anywhere in the world," Carroll said. "We love you, we'll be back again, we're going to do something special again."
Paul Allen asked everyone to stop and let it all sink in.
“Savor the moment that Seahawks fans have been waiting for since 1976,” he said.
“I've been a season ticket holder for 10 years. I don't even know how to explain it… it's awesome,” said Peggy Evans of Federal Way.
Russell Wilson reminded everyone of the Seahawks' promising future. Many believe that the future can stretch far beyond the team.
“The entire family of the12th Man has made me so proud of Washington state and the Pacific Northwest,” he said. “This, I think, will let us do a lot in the future because the pride we shared today.”
Public safety officials urged people to be patient as they headed back home.
"Seahawks fans have been their usual well-behaved, patient and loud selves, braving freezing temperatures and treating the team and each other with respect," said Barb Graff, director of Seattle's Office of Emergency Management.
"Now, as folks are getting ready to leave for home, we are asking them to remember: it took six or seven hours for everyone to get downtown for the parade; and it will likely take at least that long for transportation systems to return to normal.
With so many extra people downtown, phone and internet traffic was heavy; so Seattle officials asked everyone who can to stay off their phones and computers to help keep 911 lines open.
Play-by-play of the parade
3 p.m. - CenturyLink Field event underway
2:05 p.m. - Boeing Seahawks 787-8 flies over CenturyLink field
1:53 p.m. - The City of Seattle and WSDOT are asking people attending the parade to stagger their departures. Nearly 20,000 took a ferry into Seattle this morning. On a normal day, it's only 7,000. The ferry system is expecting a big surge between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
1:47 p.m. - Even though wide receiver Sidney Rice was lost to injury early in the season, he's in the parade too. A fan just tossed him a football.
1:42 p.m. - The front of the parade is arriving at CenturyLink Field.
1:35 p.m. - City of Seattle asking for people to be patient as they try to leave the city following the parade and rally. Some 700,000 are believed to be attending the festivities. "Now, as folks are getting ready to leave for home, we are asking them to remember: it took six or seven hours for everyone to get downtown for the parade; and it will likely take at least that long for transportation systems to return to normal."
1:30 p.m. - Art Thiel from SportsPressNW thinks this show of support from the fans in this parade will have a positive effect on getting pending free agents to stay. Wide receiver Golden Tate, who will be a free agent this offseason, has already said he is willing to take a "hometown discount."
1:24 p.m. - From Sound Transit: All Sound Transit services are expecting delays in downtown Seattle following the Seahawks Parade activities on Wednesday afternoon. Please be aware that buses and trains will be extremely crowded and all available resources are being used to accommodate our riders.
Sounder commuter rail:
Southline: Sound Transit will operate two additional trips departing Seattle making it 10 trips total:
- 2:30, 3:12, 3:42, & 4:12 pm - these trips will not service South Tacoma or Lakewood.
- 4:32, 4:52, 5:12, 5:42, 6:12, and 6:30 pm will service all stations
Northline: Will operate its normal departure times out of King Street Station. Departure times are 4:05, 4:33, 5:05, and 5:35 pm
The 4:05 and 4:33 pm departures will have additional cars to accommodate larger than normal crowds.1:22 p.m. - Sound Transit has added another southbound train departing King Street Station to Tacoma at 6:30 p.m. today. The commute was so full this morning, many people could not get on the trains.
1:16 p.m. - The Seattle Mayor's Office is asking people to stay off their phones because it is tying up the cell towers and causing troubles with the 911 lines.
1:10 p.m. - SportsPressNW's Art Thiel on overflow at Safeco Field for rally: "It will be nice for the Mariners to have a big crowd."
1:08 p.m. - Marshawn Lynch, who has been one of the quietest Seahawks, is still tossing Skittles to the crowd. He may be the most engaged of anyone in this parade.
1:05 p.m. - Outside CenturyLink Field, about a half-dozen people are being looked at by EMTs. We're not sure what the issue is. Almost the entire north parking lot is filled with fans.
1:04 p.m, - The front of the parade is now passing 4th Avenue and Columbia Street.
12:50 p.m. - Seattle Police estimate 700,000 people are on the parade route.
12:35 p.m. - The front of the parade is now passing Westlake Park.
12:28 p.m. - Thje Vince Lombardi Trophy just passed 4th and Bell in the Legion of Boom truck.
12:25 p.m. - The coaches and players are all passing by 4th and Bell.
12:15 p.m. - Marshawn Lynch is standing atop a Duck at 4th and Bell. He is tossing Skittles to the crowd.
12:12 p.m. - A "Moment of Loudness" is happening now, as decreed by Gov. Jay Inslee.
12:10 p.m. - Bus carrying the team's families passing 4th Avenue and Bell Street.
12:07p.m. - The Legion of Boom is riding in a dump truck, which is what they wanted.
11:53 a.m. - The players and coaches are on the move.
11:52 a.m. -- Parking surrounding the Bremerton terminal is full. There is no longer an extended wait for walk-on passengers departing Bremerton. Updates will occur as more information becomes available.
11:46 a.m. -- The Sea Gals are riding the Ducks that have already left the EMP. The players are still at the EMP.
11:37 a.m. -- The parade is under way.
11:29 a.m. - 11:27 a.m. - Seattle Public Schools is reporting 565 teachers absent today, out of nearly 3,000 teachers total. On average, there are between 270-400 teachers out per day. A total of 13,523 students reported absent as of this morning, out of 51,000 students enrolled in the district. For comparison, there were 2,770 student absences yesterday.
Players are boarding their vehicles. Each vehicle has a banner so you know which position they play.
11:20 a.m. - Players emerge from the EMP to board the parade vehicles.
11:15 a.m. - Fans at Westlake Park are singing "We Are The Champions."
11:05 a.m. - The first buses carrying the team have arrived at the EMP.
10:55 a.m. - Fans are already filling up the stands at CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field.
10:49 a.m. - From WSDOT: To accommodate additional traffic into downtown Seattle, the Interstate 5 express lanes will remain open in the southbound direction at least until noon. Normally, the lanes close at 11 a.m. and reopen to northbound traffic by 11:15 a.m.
10:42 a.m.- KING 5's Mimi Jung reports that the players have not yet arrived at the Experience Music Project for the start of the parade.
10:40 a.m. - KING 5's Tracy Taylor reports Seattle Police are asking people to stay out of the streets in downtown Seattle so that they can keep the parade route clear. Expect delays if you're trying to drive in and around Seattle.
KING 5 will broadcast a special presentation recapping the day's events. "5th Quarter: A Championship Celebration" begins at 10 p.m. PT on KING 5.