New England Patriots Super Bowl Parade February 7, 2017

I was fighting a brutal cold all day Sunday, and before the 3rd quarter of the Super Bowl was under way, a small part of me was actually relieved that the Patriots were going to lose. It meant I could spend the next couple of days in bed, recovering from my hacking cough and constantly dripping nose, instead of planning and making arrangements to travel to Boston to photograph the parade on Tuesday if they won.

And then they won.

Yes, everything I had just watched actually happened. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady's Patriots rallied from a 28 to 3 deficit, to put together the greatest super Bowl comeback in the history of the NFL. Looks like I had some travel plans to make!

Living on an island off the coast of Cape Cod is pretty wonderful, except when it becomes necessary to travel. The next evening after the game, I took a ferry from Nantucket to the Cape, picked up a rental car and checked in to a hotel for a good nights sleep before waking at 5:30am to make the drive to Boston. I wanted to park in the garage under the Boston Commons, and I knew the roads in the city along the parade route would be closing at 9am, making entry into the garage impossible. The normally one and a half hour drive took me just under three hours thanks to morning rush hour, and with a great sigh of relief, I crossed Boylston street and into the parking garage mere minutes before the street closed!

Now since the parade didn't start for two more hours, I decided to walk most of the length of the parade route, to do some scouting and see how the best way to go about photographing this event would be. I was here two years prior photographing the parade, dealing with snowdrifts 15 feet high in places, which made the dynamics of shooting the parade much different than this time around. Thousands of fans were everywhere and multiplying by the minute as I made my way up Boylston street toward the Marathon Finish Line. I figured I would start photographing there, for sentimental reasons, then use the alley between Boylston and Newbury to race back to the park and get ahead of the procession for another series of shots, and from there race diagonally through the park to Tremont street where I can, yet again, have another chance at some possible missed shots as the parade slowly inched its way along the route.

Having a plan of action, I headed back to the warmth of the car in the parking garage and started getting my gear ready to shoot. Unfortunately, the weather was absolutely not cooperating and the conditions were way less than ideal for taking photos. It was a cold, windy mix of snow and rain, and it was falling relentlessly. Usually, I'll have two bodies on me loaded with a wide angle and a telephoto, to cover all possibilities, but the conditions outside made that a luxury not to be. I decided that my best option for keeping my gear safe and myself sane was to stick with one camera and one lens. Since it was so crowded the entire length of the route, I decided to shoot with my Sigma 150-600 only. I wouldn't be able to get close to the action with that lens, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing considering the thousands of overenthusiastic fans I would be competing for space with, while trying to manhandle that beast of a lens. I figured the lens would have enough reach to be able to stand pretty far away and still get acceptable shots. It was a trade-off though because I knew in order to get sharp enough photos, with as dreary and grey as it was outside, I would really have to crank up the ISO in order to keep my shutter speed fast enough to freeze the action and keep the images sharp. If I needed any wide angle shots, I would depend on my iPhone to capture those for me.

By 11am, the official start time of the parade, I was back on the streets, my camera around my neck and wrapped tightly in plastic. It was still a heavy mix of snow and rain, and despite the plastic covering my gear, I was paranoid that my camera and lens were getting soaked. After walking through the park back toward Boylston street and Copley Square, I realized it had gotten just too crowded to try and make it back to the finish line, so I hung out at the corner of the park waiting for the action to begin.

Over an hour later, cold, soaked, and getting very impatient of waiting for so long for this thing to begin, I finally heard the cheers in the crowd start to swell way down at the starting line so I knew that the parade had finally started. An hour after that, with over 500 photos taken, and the party moving along toward the government center, I made my way back to my car, hoping that I captured some decent photos, and started the long journey home.

I'm happy with the results. I sure wish we had some blue skies that day, it would have made shooting much easier, but I feel I was able to make the most out of the situation, as gritty as it was!

Congratulations New England Patriots! I'm a Steeler's fan, but you guys definitely deserve all the accolades. Thanks for the best game in Super Bowl history! Enjoy the photos!

What a cute bromance!
Brady recognized me from the last parade in 2015, then we had another moment, just the two of us. There were no longer thousands of screaming fans everywhere, the blasting music faded, the confetti fell in super slow motion, there was just me and him, and our special moment in time...
Julian Edelman went full beast mode after snatching a fan thrown toy football out of mid-air!
What, you want me to sign this for you?
Ok, here you go!
A selfie? Sure, why not?
Little Ben Brady pulling off the ultimate selfie bomb!

And a big shout-out to my trusty camera, which thankfully is still working, despite getting a bit "moist"!

Created By
Bill Hoenk


All photographs taken by Bill Hoenk of Bill Hoenk Photography

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