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The Pride of Giants This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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I remember the day it rained paper. Hundreds of sheets, dumped out of the windows of silver skyscrapers from above, fluttered back and fourth as they fell to the ground. It created an illusion of giant white snowflakes landing on black pavement, blanketing the heads of the thousands of people assembled on the sidewalk. It was not a riot though; it was a celebration.

In a city less consumed by a passion of football, the temperature and wind chill might have left the streets emptier, and the glistening steel barricades assembled at the curb might have been less necessary. This was no ordinary city, however, and this parade was for no ordinary group of people. We were New Yorkers, and these men were our football players- our heroes. The Giants had emerged from Super Bowl XLVI victorious. All those Sunday afternoons spent in front of the television had cumulated into an epic defeat of our New England rivals. In our frenzied stated of excitement, we had even become almost immune to the chilly temperatures. There could be no jacket wearing- every layered piece of clothing must be carefully selected, to ensure a Giants t-shirt or jersey could still be worn on top.

I imagined that when the brokers of downtown Manhattan’s office buildings gazed down on the parade, they’d see a sea of blue, interrupted only by heads of hair. Even for them, today was a holiday. The scraps of paper from paper shredders were flung out of their windows, and to us in the street, it was like watching confetti fall from the clouds.

My friends and I had arrived for this momentous day three hours early, positioning ourselves on the corner of Pine and Broadway, right across from Trinity Church. We had secured a spot on the curb, right up front, and Phil had climbed the traffic pole in order to ensure taking an unobstructed photo of Eli Manning when the time came. The minutes had ticked by, slowly at first, but then flying by as more people arrived, lining up in rows ten or fifteen people deep all around us. We had earned our spot in the front, and intended on keeping it.

Twelve o’clock finally arrived, and a hush fell over the crowd. The floats would not reach our corner of Broadway for another quarter of an hour, but it was exciting to think that somewhere, the Giants were boarding their floats and embarking on their journey to City Hall.

Twelve o’clock brought new showers of paper shreddings from the sky, some of these pink and yellow, as if they had been saved for the celebration of the parade’s commencement. They fell down quickly, covering our hair and getting caught in the hoods of our sweatshirts.

The city breathed as one in those moments; there was a sense of unity among the crowd. On that day, we were all New Yorkers. There was no race or nationality not accepted, only the spirit of Giants football, setting hearts ablaze inside every one of us. I would later tell my parents that it didn’t feel like a parade, it was something more, like a spiritual phenomenon.

Hakeem Nix came down on the first float, we think. The players wore suits or sweatshirts, some even with t-shirts, but without their numbered jerseys, they all looked the same. A man standing next to us pointed out a few of the better known players, but we snapped pictures of them regardless. Cameras were held in the air, capturing photos of famous men we didn’t recognize, but eager to preserve an image to show to the friends back in school who hadn’t skipped for the day. In reality, our feverous photo-snapping could be summed up in one word- practice. We were preparing for when Eli Manning rode down the street, waving the Lombardi trophy. That was who we truly yearned for- Eli, our quarterback and MVP.

Confetti continued to fall from the above, and floats continued to pass. Victor Cruz shuffled, and we screamed, and took more photos. The coldness in our fingers had disappeared.

Then suddenly, someone saw him. There was a hush of excitement, for a moment, then clapping. The crowd had erupted into craziness; people climbed over each other, trying to get a glimpse of the quarterback. I founded myself wedged between the curb and barricade, with an Asian man waving a camera dangerously close to my face. Someone complained of claustrophobia but we silenced him, just for a few more moments. Manning was getting closer.

A block down, someone had started a powerful chant, a four syllable count of “Eli Manning”, followed by a trio of claps. Powerful multi-taskers, New Yorkers had managed to perfect the cheer and clap, as well as simultaneously clicking buttons on cameras.

Then came the one football player everyone recognized; Eli Manning. There he was, atop the grandest parade float, looking both young and powerful, friendly and intimidating. He waved to the crowd, as if thanking us for our support, a smile etched on his face like he still could not believe he had won more Super Bowl rings than his big brother. He stood next to Coach Tom Coughlin, underneath a blue and silver banner that proudly proclaimed, “Super Bowl Champions 2012.” Coach Tom, dressed in a black jacket and glasses, held the trophy over his head, displaying it in the air for all the crowd to see. It gleamed silver in the sunlight, and we looked on with admiration. We took more pictures, and looked on as the float made its way down the street, replaced with a marching band from a local high school.

The crowd began to disperse suddenly, all heading back to work, or onto the next celebratory party. We left too, taking in the scene for a few final moments. The ground lay littered with garbage, the sheets of paper now covered with footprints as they lay lifeless over the black pavement. Somehow, the Sanitation Department would come in and have it all cleaned up by lunchtime tomorrow. We walked slowly through Downtown Manhattan, comforted by the fact it was only one o’clock in the afternoon and all our friends with less lenient parents were still in class. Tomorrow, we’d tell our teachers we’d been sick with “Blue Flu” and they’d frown at us, but we’d smile back. New York was forever, and our Giants pride ran deeper than our requirement to attend class. For that one day, we were all champions.




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