Post updated at 5:14 p.m. Sunday, April 10:
The Jayhawk faithful showed up by the thousands under warm and windy skies Sunday afternoon to cheer on and catch a firsthand look at their 2022 NCAA men’s basketball champions.
The wait and winds brought some inconvenience to the day, but it didn’t dampen the smiles. Fans of all ages picnicked along Mass and at South Park while battling warm but challenging 25 mph wind gusts. Buskers helped pass the time by entertaining the crowds while T-shirt vendors hawked their wares.
Dan Marks and son Lucas, 10, played catch with a football near the intersection of 9th and Mass to pass the time.
The Baldwin City dad called the Lawrence atmosphere “amazing” and also visited downtown during the Final Four madness April 2 when the Jayhawks secured a spot in the title game.
Marks said he looked forward to seeing the team make their appearance and receive the community’s support. He raved about his favorite player, Remy Martin.
“He just kind of comes out of nowhere and lights it up. Everybody’s all (Ochai) Agbaji, but I like Remy. He’s a little guy that makes everything look big.”
With “We are the Champions” by Queen blaring in the background, the parade – led by a firetruck – kicked off at Sixth and Mass streets and headed south down Mass to 19th.
Lined up behind barricades, fans held up signs from a sea of crimson and blue praising and thanking their hoops heroes. And they whooped and hollered as the team and their chauffeured rides made their way down Mass Street.
The players, coaches and dignitaries – including U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids and Douglas County and Lawrence city commissioners – waved from convertibles and pickup trucks.
It had been 14 years since Lawrence had thrown a celebration like this for a KU championship team, and the moment did not disappoint. Trophies celebrating the Jayhawks’ Big 12 and national titles also took a stroll down Mass Street. Beads flew through the air, as did championship gear, including some with coveted player autographs. Pieces of basketball net hung from players’ hats, too.
Multiple generations of Jayhawks attended the party, including Adrian Hunt and Shannon Hamilton, and their almost-6-month-old daughter, Isabelle Hazel Hunt. All three were born at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, making them Lawrence townies. It was Isabelle’s first championship parade but hopefully not the last.
“She’ll sleep well,” Hunt said as the parade wrapped up, adding he hoped the Jayhawks would give his daughter more to celebrate in the coming years.
City of Lawrence crews wasted no time launching their clean-up efforts. Within minutes of the parade’s end, two street sweepers inched their way through the intersection of Ninth and Mass attempting to erase the vestiges of a week’s worth of parties in the heart of Lawrence.