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For lifelong fans, the Boston Celtics victory parade was a ‘religious’ experience

On Friday morning in Fairhaven, Mass., Karl Jorgensen was shaken awake by his girlfriend at 5:05 a.m. He was supposed to meet up with his friend Ian at 5:15, and he was running late. 

Rushing like never before, Jorgensen hopped in the car, met up with his mother and got on the road.

“We’re going down the highway, and I see two Celtics license plates breeze by in the passing lane,” Jorgensen said. “Sure enough, it was Ian, so we ended up in the caravan on time [and] ready to go.”

Jorgensen and the caravan made it to Boylston St. around 7:30 a.m., nearly four hours early for the Boston Celtics championship victory parade, which kicked off at 11:15 a.m.. 

Seeing the team outside of their uniforms preparing for a game is rare, Jorgensen said, so seeing them at the parade is a “different atmosphere.”

“There’s not many more intimate experiences that you could have with the team outside of being courtside at the game,” Jorgensen said.

Jorgensen said as a lifelong fan of the Celtics, he was “obligated” to partake in the festivities for their 18th championship. He brought his mother, with whom he “went absolutely insane” over the Celtics’ 2008 championship win, to celebrate with him and his friends.

“I brought him to his first game when he was eight or seven,” Jorgensen’s mother said.

Among the crowd of more than one million Bostonians were several other lifelong Celtics fans like Jorgensen, who were all there to celebrate after years of getting so close to reaching the title.

Christian Bermudez, who also watched the parade from Boylston St., said he started watching the Celtics with his dad and uncle when he was six or seven years old. He recalls watching the 2008 championship, but growing up following the team has brought a whole new meaning to the Celtics’ most recent triumph.

“At the time, [I didn’t] see how serious it is because I was so young,” Bermudez said. “But now, it’s so real.”

This being his first Boston championship parade, Bermudez said the crowd had “way more people” than he expected, but that level of pride in their team is what sets Boston fans apart.

Fans gathered along the parade route for a chance to see their favorite Celtics players pass by on duck boats, a tradition that dates back to 2002, when the New England Patriots won their first Super Bowl. 

“Tale as old as time,” said Jack Walsh, from Rhode Island.  “Boston wins championships year in and year out. Why not bring out the duck boats?”

Walsh watched the Celtics play for the first time when he was in second grade, and he’s been a “die-hard” fan ever since. He said his uncle works for the NBA and would tell him stories about his best friend at work, who happened to be 2008 champion Kevin Garnett.

“Before I was a Celtics fan, I was probably a Kevin Garnett fan,” Walsh said.

On the way to the parade, Walsh said he looked forward to drinking a lot of beers and celebrating with everyone he knew at the Boston Common. He said the Celtics have always been a way for him to “blow off steam” due to the team’s longtime spirit and synergy.

“You can’t blame a man for liking Boston, right?” Walsh said. “You’re going to wake up every day and just go and watch greatness.”

Sean Kastantin, a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, also became a Celtics fan because of a player. He said he started watching the team for Isaiah Thomas, who played with the Celtics from 2015 to 2017, and while it hurts not to see him on the team that won the championship this year, he still loves this team.

Kastantin said Celtics forward Jayson Tatum looked right at him while passing on his duck boat, and in that moment, he took back any criticism he had for the player during the season. Tatum put his hands on his head, sporting his iconic “we did it” gesture from the closeout game of the playoffs, which Kastantin said felt “unreal.”

“If I had to describe this parade in one word, it would be f—ing religious,” Kastantin said.

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