The organizer of the “Perfect Season 2.0 Parade” has been impressed by the number of fans taking part in the event and their passion for the Cleveland Browns.
In the midst of a wind chill advisory that currently extends until noon EST on Saturday, Jan. 6, Cleveland Browns parade organizer Chris McNeil will represent the passion of fan-hood that often defies logic. It looks like McNeil won’t be alone in braving the possible five to 20 degrees below zero temperatures to send a message to his favorite NFL team and that’s what is giving McNeil the greatest motivation to go ahead with the “Perfect Season 2.0 Parade.”
“The Facebook event page has just blown up,” McNeil said. “Over 6,000 people say they are going, pressing 20,000 say they are interested. It’s numbers like that. On the back end, I have a ton of people who legitimately want to be in this parade. I have tons of vehicles, tons of buses, tons of RVs, people who are done up and decorating trailers on back of trucks. These are legitimate folks who are going out and building this stuff right now. It kind of blows my mind when I think about it.”
The cold temperatures are also a concern for the event’s sponsor, Excedrin. The over-the-counter pain-relief medicine company has gone beyond its initial investment that fulfilled the KickStarter campaign. Senior brand manager for Excedrin, Scott Yacovino, spoke to what the brand’s role will be during the event.
“We’re there more in a support capacity,” Yacovino explained. “The focus is on the fans. Our objective is to keep them warm and headache-free. We’ve sent some sample products, our extra-strength product and we have also shipped hats for them to stay warm during the parade. I imagine that it’s going to be quite cold there in Cleveland. That’s really about it. We’re there in more of a support capacity and to help the fans rally together and help the fans to celebrate their fan-hood.”
That focus on fan experience is shared by McNeil, who says that he will be taking a backseat to not only the community of fans but the message of the event on Saturday.
“All of these folks have come together and come up with some pretty darn creative ideas to show, one, that they are passionate about the Browns and two, that they aren’t real happy with what’s going on right now,” McNeil commented. “I think if that can happen and we have first of all a safe event and I’ve taken the steps to make sure that it is safe, if people enjoy themselves and the message gets delivered, and then the food bank also capitalizes on people bringing out non-perishables, I think that’s a win.”
The event’s web page denotes a need for certain items like soup for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. McNeil says that the drop-off spot will be near the Fireman’s Memorial and there will be individuals designated to accept the items during the parade. Despite the parade’s path going around the First Energy Stadium, where the Browns play their home games, the team itself isn’t going to be involved. That hasn’t hampered McNeil’s passion for the team.
“To the Browns’ credit, they have been playing ball,” McNeil elaborated. “They are good sports about it I would say. Last year when we didn’t have the parade and we donated that $10,000 to the food bank, they matched it and so did our defensive coordinator at the time, Ray Horton. They are taking some steps and they are good sports about it but quite frankly they have to change. We have to start winning some ball games.”
To what degree the event will impact the on-field fate of the Browns in future seasons remains to be seen. What’s certain is that this parade gives fans an opportunity to unite and voice their displeasure with that on-field product. For McNeil and fans like him, wind chill advisories aren’t sufficient reason to miss that opportunity.