‘Nova Nation came out to Center City Philadelphia in droves last Friday afternoon, as the NCAA National Champion Villanova Wildcats were celebrated with a parade down Market Street. An estimated 60,000 people cheered and held aloft signs despite chilly temperatures and wind as confetti fell upon them.
Meanwhile, vendors sold Villanova merchandise of varying legitimacy while students distributed more ‘Nova Nation signs to parade goers.
Villanova mascot Will D. Cat led a procession which included marching band performances from Conestoga High School, Springfield’s Cardinal O’Hara High School (playing Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”), and, of course, Villanova’s own marching band. Radnor Township’s police and fire departments were included in the march to City Hall, along with a selection of players from Villanova’s 1985 National Championship team, as well as their ’71 finalist team and their 2009 Final Four squad.
The mood was so exuberant that even the bus carrying the news media garnered huge cheers from the throng of well-wishers.
The loudest cheers, however, were reserved for the last two buses, carrying head coach Jay Wright and his championship team. Players held their championship trophy high, and threw t-shirts and Villanova bracelets into the crowd. The procession went five blocks before arriving at Dilworth Park for a rally, where Mayor Jim Kenney declared the day Villanova Wildcats NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Day.
Even before the parade began, excitement was high.
Matt Makits, from Philadelphia, had been waiting for a ‘Nova championship his entire life; having been born the same year as their last title win in 1985. “My father was (a Villanova student), so pretty much I grew up Nova basketball from ’85,” said Makits. “I was told I was a good luck charm for the ’85 championship team; been going to games every year since.”