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Volume 23 No. 14
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Whatever happens, don’t use the ‘p-word’

Early preparation is crucial to planning a victory parade. The trick, of course, is keeping that preparation secret. In terms of Boston’s “Duck Boat” parades, loose lips literally could sink ships — or at least championship hopes.


No team wants the public — and especially the team it’s playing — to know a parade is being planned before they actually win the title.


“Everyone knows it’s bad juju to plan a parade before the victory,” said Jason Pearl, San Francisco Giants senior vice president of partnerships and business development. Pearl acknowledged having meetings or calls with city officials about parades early in the playoffs and serious planning two days before clinching the 2010 World Series.


“No one wanted to say the word,” he said. “Among ourselves, we referred to it as the ‘p-word.’”


“You never want to be heard using the ‘p-word’ until you’ve won a trophy,” echoed Golden State Warriors President Rick Welts last week, less than an hour after riding in the club’s third victory parade in four years. While the Warriors held initial discussions as early as when the NBA playoffs opened in April, “We never talk about this to anyone on the team itself,” Welts said. “But if your team’s in the running, you can’t start planning soon enough.”


The Kansas City Royals, for example, had parade meetings in late August during their 2015 championship run.


“Baseball, in particular, is inbred with superstition,” said Mike Bucek, Royals vice president of marketing and business development. “So, if parade materials were on my desk, I’d hide them any time someone walked in. When I worked at the White Sox [from 1988-96], we had a whole postseason manual, but we kept it hidden from [owner] Jerry Reinsdorf. As soon as any meeting involving that was over, it got stashed at the bottom of a filing cabinet.”


David Touhey of Monumental Sports, whose Washington Capitals held their first Stanley Cup title parade last week, summed it up: “You don’t want to be talking about it,” he said, “but you have to be.”


So the secret can be told: Every team plans its parade weeks, and sometimes months, in advance.


“The key is not getting caught talking publicly about it,” Los Angeles Kings COO Kelly Cheeseman said with a laugh.


For the Philadelphia Eagles, that was especially meaningful. Before their 2005 loss to New England in Super Bowl XXXIX, news of the Eagles’ presumptive parade route leaked. Patriots coach Bill Belichick used that as bulletin-board material. A video of that speech can still be found on the internet.


Still, “The notion that you could land on the Monday after the Super Bowl and plan a parade in two or three days is just not realistic,” said Ari Roitman, Eagles senior vice president of business.


Or as Cheeseman points out, “Your municipality will call you about planning long before the playoffs are over, so it’s not like you have much choice.”