By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online
Palo Alto senior wide receiver Davante Adams leaned out of a cable car, this one with wheels, and took all the hoopla surrounding him.
"I didn't not expect this," Adams said. "It's like in the NFL."
Adams played on the Palo Alto High football team that went 14-0 this season, winning the Division I state championship while accomplishing something never before in the history of the program.
"This is crazy," said Christoph Bono, who quarterbacked the Vikings to their best record, and finish, in school history.
Adams and Bono were correct as they prepared to journey up University Avenue on Saturday evening in the first-ever parade held for two state championship teams from the City of Palo Alto.
The Palo Alto football and girls' volleyball teams accomplished something only one other school (Campolindo of Moraga) did in the state of California this past fall in winning two state titles. Campolindo won in volleyball and girls' cross country while Palo Alto pulled the tough double against nationally ranked teams. On Saturday, the city turned out to honor its young athletes.
Both teams, along with the Palo Alto cheer squad, rode in replica cable cars and on fire engines while following head football coach Earl Hansen and head volleyball coach Dave Winn up University Avenue in a procession led by the Palo Alto band plus. members of the Palo Alto City Council, members of the Palo Alto volleyball Club and Palo Alto Knights' youth football team.
The teams and coaches were cheered by thousands of spectators in arguably one of best-attended parades in the city's long history. Former Palo Alto Mayer Pat Burt estimated between 5,000 and 10,000 attended the event.
Upon reaching King Plaza at City Hall, the teams were honored with speeches from local dignitaries while spectators were treated to video highlights of the Vikings' rare back-to-back state championship seasons.
"This is what Palo Alto is all about," said Palo Alto's newly elected Mayor Sid Espinosa. "This city is stopping to say, 'Congratulations. You have made this city proud as state champions.'"
Hansen, the school's football coach for 23 years and its athletic director, was blown away by the outpouring of spectators.
"This is unbelievable," said Hansen, who led his team to an upset of nationally ranked Centennial-Corona in the state finals. "I've lived here all my life and I haven't seen this many people since the '69 marches were going on."
Said Winn, who guided the Paly volleyball team to an upset of nationally ranked Long Beach Poly in the Division I state finals: "Does this town know how to throw a party, or what?
"When we began the season, we set our goals to winning four banners – a league, CCS, NorCal and state title," continued Winn. "Next year we have to add parade to that list of goals . . . It's so great that the city stopped to celebrate like this. We want to make this an annual occurrence, not just a one-time thing."
Added Hansen: "It doesn't matter how big a stage you have been on before. Nothing gets more special than what we have here tonight."
Senior co-captains Will Glazier and Christoph Bono spoke for the football team.
"It was just a magical ride," Glazier said of the team's historic season. "Capped off by this parade, which is the most awesome thing ever. Two state championships in one town is amazing, so it's great to be a part of that."
Added Bono" "This has been an unbelievable experience."
After Hansen congratulated both teams, he reminded the large crowd that the squads would carry two things with them the rest of their lives.
"One," Hansen said, "they will always be Palo Alto Vikings. And two, they will always be state champions."
Following video highlights of both championship seasons were shown on a large screen in front of City Hall, four members of Stanford's Orange Bowl-winning team took the podium – Konrad Reuland, Coby Fleener, Devon Carrington and Matt Masifilo – to add to the evening festivities.
State senator Joe Simitian was on hand, along with Superintendent of the Palo Alto Unified School District, Kevin Skelly, Palo Alto principal Phil Winston, Palo Alto City Councilman Yiaway Yeh and newly elected State Assemblyman Rich Gordon.
Simitian and Gordon presented the Paly volleyball and football teams with proclamations from the State of California and Yeh had one from the City of Palo Alto.
Said Yeh: "I want to let everyone know I'm a Gunn graduate. But, I'm proud to say, 'Go Paly!'"
Joked Simitian: "The last dollars in the state treasury went into these proclamations!"
Added Gordon to the teams: "You have taught us all a great lesson, that anything is possible."