Seattle parade fans go Beast Mode

Seattle police estimated that more than 700,000 people attended the Seahawks' victory parade. AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

SEATTLE -- Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch sat on the hood of an iconic Seattle duck bus, an amphibious landing vehicle that was carrying all the Sea Gals cheerleaders.

Lynch was throwing Skittles, his favorite candy, to the parade crowd. Unless he had at least 700,000 of them, Seattle’s beastly big guy came up a little short on Celebration Wednesday in downtown Seattle.

The official city-limits population of Seattle is 634,535. The Seattle Police Department conservatively estimated the Super Bowl victory parade at 700,000 fans.

The whole city went Beast Mode.

Seahawks team owner Paul Allen later said more than a million people were on hand. With a new net worth at more than $15 billion, the man certainly is good at counting money, so maybe he knows.

Whatever the number, it was something to see, a victory parade that has to rank among the most impressive ever for any team.

“What an incredible day,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “Words can’t describe it. The intensity of that crowd was amazing. I can’t imagine [a victory parade] better than that.”

Seattle officials on Tuesday predicted the crowd would reach 300,000. Obviously, they underestimated the passion and love 12th-man fans have for this team, the same way many NFL experts underestimated the Seahawks this season.

There was no snow in the Super Bowl when the Seahawks blew out Denver 43-8, and there was no rain in Seattle Wednesday. Heck, there was barely even a cloud, a breathtakingly beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest.

The temperature, however, was 29 when the parade began, not that anyone cared, including one guy who wasn’t wearing a shirt.

“It was freezing, but that was a lot of fun,” said receiver Golden Tate, who waved a giant 12th-man flag on the parade route. “This has been a wonderful day for all of us and the city. It was special to be a part of it, something I will value forever.”

Lynch, the man of few words, was the star of the show. The players were separated by position, riding in the back of military trucks. But Lynch, in ski mask and hoodie, elected to ride up front with the cheerleaders.

He was wearing a dark blue warm-up suit with BEAST MODE written on the chest and down the pants leg, an outfit that is destined to become the hottest-selling clothing item in Seattle.

As the procession reached CenturyLink Field, Lynch stood on the hood, beating a drum that someone handed him. So much for being shy.

Fans braved massive traffic jams and public transportation overload to get to the parade Wednesday morning.

Interstate 5, the main north-south artery that goes through downtown Seattle, was backed up four miles in either direction three hours before the parade was scheduled to begin.

The Sound Transit trains were more crowded than a Tokyo subway. All the trains coming to the city were over capacity, with some people waiting an hour just to buy a ticket.

The Washington ferry system, a major transportation mode in Seattle, was packed. People learned there was a two-boat wait just to walk on a ferry from Bremerton and Bainbridge Island.

But they just kept coming by the thousands. The crowd was 40 to 50 people deep in most spots along the parade route. Some people climbed trees to get a better view of things.

“It’s almost like Christmas morning waking up for presents, but 10 times better!” receiver Jermaine Kearse tweeted.

Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith had this tweet: “Wow there are a GAZILLION @Seahawks fans here!! You guys are undoubtedly the best fans in the @nfl (or any sport for that matter)”

This area has waited 35 years to celebrate another major men’s championship. The only other one was the SuperSonics, the 1979 NBA champs. Sadly, that team no longer is here.

That parade crowd was estimated at 300,000, which may explain why city officials used the same number as an early estimate for this turnout. Three and a half decades of waiting, along with the enormous popularity of this city’s NFL team, more than doubled it.

The mass of people was so huge that the city of Seattle requested people downtown not use cell phones because it could compromise 911 calls.

The afternoon ended with a rally in CenturyLink Field. Fans filled almost every available seat, but one side of the stands wasn’t open. A recreational vehicle show is starting in the stadium this week, so the west concourse was filled with RVs.

Fans who couldn’t get in the Clink sat in Safeco Field next door and watched the rally on the big screen.

For the start of things, the players were placed on the trucks by position. The trucks listed the position on a banner on the sides, except for the defensive backs. That truck, of course, had Legion of Boom as its banner.

And in this community, which has such a large and proud military presence with the Bremerton Naval Base and Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, including the armed forces in the parade was the right thing to do.

Looking at the crowd, it was easy to assume many school classrooms were almost empty all across the Pacific Northwest. Jose Banda, the superintendent of Seattle Public Schools, was roundly criticized for not closing the schools Wednesday.

“It will be treated as an unexcused absence,” Banda stated in a release. “While we support the team, academics must come first and it’s important not to lose a day in the classroom.”

We’re all in favor of education, but one day in fourth grade can’t compare to the memories of a lifetime and the lesson of civic pride that came from attending this event.

Banda later backed down, saying each school principal could decide what was right for his or her school. Many teachers elected to bring TVs into the classroom and allow the students who were there to watch the parade live.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared 12:12 p.m. PT as a moment of loudness across the state. As the parade began people spilled into the street, making it difficult for the vehicles to get through.

When the team arrived at the stadium, the players were fitted for their Super Bowl rings. The big screen showed the Lombardi trophy and the scoreboard listed the 43-8 score of the Super Bowl victory over the Broncos.

The players were introduced one at a time, starting with the highest number (No. 99 Tony McDaniel) and going down. That, of course, made quarterback Russell Wilson (No. 3) last.

Wilson walked in carrying the Lombardi trophy, but Lynch again stole the show. He had walked in carrying a bottle of champagne. When Wilson got to the middle of the field, Lynch let Wilson have it, spraying him with champagne to wild cheers from the crowd

Lynch didn’t speak at the podium, no surprise there, but his love for the fans was clear. Wilson spoke briefly on behalf of the offense and cornerback Richard Sherman spoke for the defense.

“You guys are the best fans in the world,” Sherman said. “We appreciate all of you. We love ya 12th man. Go Hawks.”

Carroll had a message about the future.

“This is an extraordinary group of young man that have come together to do something special,” Carroll said. “And it isn’t just one year. We’re just getting warmed up. We’ll be back again.”