Kansas City Chiefs fans flocked to buy T-shirts and line up for photos Monday while preparing to skip out on work for a celebratory parade after the team won its first Super Bowl in 50 years.
Schools in the area started calling off classes so students and staff can attend "The Chiefs Kingdom Champions Parade," set for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. Every local school district has already canceled school for Wednesday so they can join in on the celebration. Officials announced the celebration Sunday night, shortly after the Chiefs defeated San Francisco 31-20. The festivities will include a rally at Union Station in Kansas City, shortly after the parade ends.
The celebration began Sunday even before the game, with an estimated 20,000 people showing up at the Power & Light District in downtown Kansas City. Police said Monday 14 people were arrested and 45 were ejected from the entertainment district, and fire officials responded to 24 medical incidents. The Westport entertainment district also was packed and police reported several disturbances, but none were serious.
One man died when he tried to light commercial-grade fireworks in an improvised mortar and one of them exploded shortly after the game ended, police said in a statement. No other information was released.
Officers also will be following up on 163 reports of celebratory gunfire from 5:30 p.m. Sunday to early Monday, police said.
A newly installed sign inside Union Station proclaimed the Chiefs "World Champions!" Among those lining up to take a picture Monday were Mark and Karie Teetor, of the St. Louis area, who described a scene of pandemonium and dancing as they watched the game with friends.
"I was crying pretty much," Karie Teetor said.
Her husband said he was just happy to see the Chiefs in the Super Bowl after a 50-year drought.
"To win is icing on the cake," he added.
The city installed generators and a temporary cellphone tower near the site of the rally, while area businesses made plans to close or operate on a reduced schedule. Hotels already had started booking up after the Chiefs won the AFC championship game.
At Children's Mercy Kansas City, the emergency room at the main downtown campus will be open Wednesday, but appointments and some surgeries were being rescheduled or moved.
"For the first time in 50 years, our Kansas City Chiefs are bringing home the Vince Lombardi trophy, and we're all excited to celebrate with our players and fans," Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said in a news release.
When the Royals won the World Series in 2015, an estimated 800,000 people flocked to the victory parade, shattering expectations in a city with a population of about 470,000 and a metropolitan area of about 2 million. Cellphone towers were overwhelmed by the throngs, and buses couldn't get through.
City spokesman Chris Hernandez offered no specifics on the expected crowd size for the Chiefs' celebration, saying only that "we are prepared for a massive crowd of fans wearing red and celebrating a Super Bowl victory that's been 50 years in the making. So please dress warmly and come downtown to enjoy a family-friendly celebration."
Christie Bernard, 45, of the St. Louis suburb of St. Peters, brought her 12- and 19-year-old sons to Union Station for a picture Monday. She said her husband – a "huge, huge Chiefs fan" – died unexpectedly a few months ago.
"We wished he could have seen it. But we feel like he helped them out a little bit last night. We kind of feel like that fourth quarter, he knew that they needed some help, so he gave them a little boost," she said of the Chiefs' come-from-behind win.