‘The optimism flows in September’: Fans welcome the return of the Eagles
The Eagles home opener at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday was a celebration for fans from across the region.
Green and black balloons adorned the exits of the NRG Station, sweet and smoky scents of grilled meats greeted the nose, and a helicopter flew overhead with a “Go Birds” banner — the Eagles home opener at Lincoln Financial Field Monday was a celebration for fans from across the region.
The Eagles and Minnesota Vikings were both 1-0 heading into the Birds’ home opener, but some fans were already thinking about a Broad Street parade.
“I think they can go all the way this year and I’m not being a homer,” insisted Warwick resident Bob White.
White started work at 6 a.m. so he could take part in an annual tradition with his three best friends. The crew commandeered a small spot by the tennis courts at FDR Park and grilled some sausage.
“The optimism flows in September,” ribbed White’s friend, Andrew Palestini, who took a personal day from work and made the trip from Sicklerville, N.J., in the early afternoon.
Many in green described camping out with hoagies, burgers, and sweet Italian sausage from early morning. Part of the experience included seeing RVs painted in green and quirky characters, like two green-wing macaws named Dino and Big Bird who drew attention from strangers and posed for photos with Eagles tailgaters Monday.
Robert Marmarosa, the macaws’ caretaker from Pittsburgh, said the birds are not exclusively Eagles cheerleaders. They were his wife’s pets and he takes them to events all over the country so they’re not bored in a cage.
“Philly was on the schedule and only 350 miles away, no big deal,” said Marmarosa as helped some fans pose with the colorful birds.
Meanwhile, the City Pigeons podcast focused on crafting new friendships. The podcast held its first live gathering after launching in May. Initially about sports, the four hosts found they were talking about everything from music to sneakers and other parts of city life.
“Today is really about getting people together,” said Jesse Rendell, one of the hosts. “People connect on the internet and we want to build a community.”
And though the mood was almost exclusively celebratory, some couldn’t help but take a moment to think about the past two years.
King of Prussia resident Kenya James invited fellow healthcare workers from Einstein and Penn to his 53rd birthday tailgate.
“I’ve been an Eagles fan since ‘78, it’s in my blood,” said James, who arrived shortly before 3 p.m. to save a spot in Lot M and fire up the grill.
Like many fans, James and his family talk about football’s return like a beloved family member, giving everyone a reason to get back together — especially after the pandemic disrupted traditions like his annual Super Bowl party.
James said he hadn’t seen some of the friends filling up their plates with burgers and fixings at his tailgate — most of them fellow healthcare workers from Einstein and Penn — in as many as two years.
James said only winning could make his birthday better.
Across the lot, Delaware resident Brendan O’Neill and father to Vikings player Bryan O’Neill, hoped for a different result. He and family members sported purple and gold while munching on tomato pies before the game.
“Go Vikings,” said the former Eagles fan, showing off his jersey.