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Super Bowl parade mood: `Is this what heaven's like?'

It was a giant, peaceable mix of black and white, old and young. A hungry region greeted its heroes.

Eagles Mascot, Swoop, leads the first bus in the the Eagles victory parade on Feb. 8, 2018, celebrating their victory in Super Bowl LII. They are making their way north on Broad St. heading to City Hall.
Eagles Mascot, Swoop, leads the first bus in the the Eagles victory parade on Feb. 8, 2018, celebrating their victory in Super Bowl LII. They are making their way north on Broad St. heading to City Hall.Read moreCHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

Andrew Timmons showed up around midnight at Broad Street and Pattison Avenue, wearing a Brian Westbrook jersey over a hoodie over an Eagles scarf, his entire face painted midnight green.

Timmons just wanted to make sure he didn't miss the parade, which was due to start in about, ohhh, 11 hours.

"It's something I've waited my whole life for," the 43-year-old said. He said his entire family, including his children, thinks he's "nuts."

Don't worry, Andrew, the whole country thinks we're a little crazy.

Technically, the Eagles won when Tom Brady's Hail Mary went unanswered and the clock struck zero and Nick Foles held his hands to his head in disbelief and Doug Pederson was doused in icy Gatorade.

But that unforgettable performance in Minneapolis was just a means to an end: the first Super Bowl parade in Philadelphia, where the celebration might actually mean more than the game itself. No war is won until the troops have safely returned home.

"Congratulations, Philadelphia, you deserve this more than anybody in the world," Eagles safety Chris Maragos told the crowd Thursday on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Mayor Kenney had advised parade attendees to leave the beer at home. They did not leave the beer at home. Or the overflowing bottles of champagne, or the pocket flasks, or those convenient little airplane bottles of Fireball.

The mayor said police would confiscate beer. Police did not confiscate beer. How could they? Where would they have put it all?

By 4:30 a.m., Joe Hanszum and friends were already set up near Logan Fountain with all the parade essentials: beer, pretzels, Chinese food, and Newport cigarettes. The 34-year-old North Philadelphian said he'd already counted about 100 people filing down the Parkway.

"I'm the tailgater initiator," he said.

By midmorning, Center City streets and alleyways were clogging rapidly, the lifeblood of the city surging toward the main artery of Broad Street from all directions.

>> READ MORE: Eagles Super Bowl parade: Busy but mostly routine for police

It was a mix of black and white, old and young, swaddled babies in strollers and full-grown adults teetering on the shoulders of only slightly larger adults.

People climbed out of windows and onto rooftops of rowhouses and churches, up trees, onto bus stops, porta potties, makeshift rafters of ladders and wooden planks.

>> READ MORE: Here's what Eagles fans climbed during the Super Bowl parade

There were three-syllable chants about Nick Foles' stature and four-syllable chants indicating the masses held Brady in considerably lower esteem. Meek Mill's "Dreams and Nightmares" was the unofficial soundtrack, crackling from portable speakers and booming from planted subwoofers.

"We wildin' out here. Five old white dudes just ran the 'Philly Special!' " North Philly's Kenny Cole said, referring to the Eagles' fourth-down trick play touchdown that will live on forever in football infamy.

If the Super Bowl's nail-biting finale sent the city into crazed euphoria, Thursday's parade was time for more-measured response.

Tom Costello, who runs an exterminating business with his wife, Sue, brought the whole family to the parade – and he even wore pants. Compare that to Sunday night, when Costello was so excited that he tore out of his house onto Frankford Avenue in just his underwear and Eagles scarf.

"The bosses gave themselves the day off to be here," Sue Costello said, while waiting on the Parkway around 8 a.m.

On Walnut Street, A.J. Moncman, a 12-year-old from Lehigh County who was born with a condition that damaged his retinas, held a fluorescent green sign that read: "I may be blind but you don't have to see it to believe it."

And he was right.

You could feel the good vibes. Hear the fireworks exploding a few blocks away. Smell the smoke emanating from charcoal grills in concrete front yards mixing with the kind of smoke that was decriminalized locally three years ago. A man on Market Street belted out, "World [expletive] champions!" as a wise second baseman once said the last time anything like this happened in Philadelphia.

"It's insane. Totally insane. And the fact that we were underdogs the whole time means even more," Cole said, wandering among the crowd at Broad and Wharton. "This right here is proof that Philly is love. No one can ever take this away."

>> READ MORE: The best things Eagles fans said at the Super Bowl parade in Philadelphia

A police officer refereed an E-A-G-L-E-S chant battle between the east and west side crowds. Down the street, footballs flew across the street over the heads of other smiling cops.

Then, at 11:41 a.m., from Broad and Ritner, you could see a puff of confetti to the south. The already boisterous crowd took it up another notch as the team rolled in behind a phalanx of cops riding Harley-Davidsons festooned with Eagles flags and a drumline that gave the scene a touch of Mad Max.

Foles looked up in wonder at the fans on rooftops as he hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. In South Philly neighborhoods to the east and west of the parade route, there was eerie calm, as if the glimmering trophy's gravitational pull was producing a low tide while it proceeded up Broad.

Hours later, once the whole convoy had completed the 4.8-mile journey to the Art Museum, Eagles football operations chief  Howie Roseman asked aloud what everyone seemed to be thinking all day.

"Is this," Roseman asked, "what heaven's like?"

Staff writers Jason Nark, Claudia Vargas, Allison Steele, Samantha Melamed, Julie Shaw, and Maddie Hanna contributed to this report.