By Jonathan Kaminsky
(Reuters) – Up to 500,000 Seattle Seahawks fans were expected to brave sub-freezing temperatures to celebrate the football team’s first Super Bowl title at a parade set to wind through the city’s downtown on Wednesday.
The Seahawks trounced the usually high-scoring Denver Broncos 43-8 on Sunday to win their first NFL championship in franchise history.
It was a particularly sweet triumph for a city whose previous major professional men’s sports team championship came a generation ago, when the SuperSonics captured the National Basketball Association’s crown in 1979. That team left for Oklahoma City in 2008.
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Due to kick off at 11 a.m. local time, the planned 90-minute parade will see the Seahawks riding in amphibious World War II-era Duck vehicles normally used by tourists.
The route ends at CenturyLink Field – its home field – where the team has lost only once in the past two years, and where season-ticket holders will be treated to a victory celebration.
Many school-aged children are expected be in attendance at the parade, with Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Jose Banda on Tuesday saying that principals would have discretion over whether to excuse absent students.
It was a reversal from his position a day earlier, when he said that students would not be excused in spite of a suggestion from Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll that they get the day off.
Carroll received a phone call on Tuesday from President Barack Obama, who commended the coach on the team’s “decisive victory” and said he looked forward to greeting them at the White House in the coming months, according to a White House statement.
Also on Tuesday, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee proclaimed a statewide “moment of LOUDNESS” to take place during the parade. In a nod to the team’s fans, collectively known as the “12th Man” for their opponent-rattling rumbling during home games, Inslee ordered the organized screaming to occur at 12:12 p.m. on Wednesday.
“Our team is bigger, faster and stronger and the 12th Man is without question louder than anyone else in the nation,” Inslee said in a written statement accompanying the proclamation.
(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky in Olympia, Wash.; Editing by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle and Sofina Mirza-Reid)