Todd Satinoff had waited all of his 50 years to celebrate the Philadelphia Eagles winning a Super Bowl, and he proudly returned to his hometown with his son, D.J., for Thursday's parade.
A crowd estimated at 2 million cheered the NFL champs, but perhaps the most compelling image involved someone who couldn't be there.
Satinoff, wearing a green Eagles visor and a white No. 99 jersey over a black Philadelphia Flyers jacket, held out a small plastic bag along the parade route and slowly poured out the ashes of his father, Carl, a devoted Philadelphia fan who died in 1994 at age 59.
"It was an epiphany moment. It was incredible," said Satinoff, who was born in Philadelphia and moved with his family to Trinity in western Pasco County in 1998. "It's hard to put words on a value of something like that. It's so personal, but I think a lot of people can relate to it."
A video of Satinoff pouring the ashes before the parade started, posted on Twitter by someone standing near him, went viral.
doesn't get realer than scattering your grandfather's ashes at the Eagles Super Bowl parade.said they flew up from Tampa. pic.twitter.com/HPygzJahmD— maurice (@tallmaurice) February 8, 2018
"Up there, it's a religion," Satinoff said of the passion of Philadelphia sports fans. "It dictates how your week is going to go. A lot of ruined dinners, ruined work weeks. If you look at the paper, crime goes down when the Eagles win. It's different from any other town and any other fan base. It's our passion, and we have a lot of years of passion built up for his."
Carl Satinoff, whose father immigrated to the United States from Russia, sold hot dogs and orange drinks on a street corner in Philadelphia. He later owned the concessions at Connie Mack Stadium and Franklin Field, where the Eagles played before moving to Veterans Stadium in 1971.
"My husband was there constantly, working with his dad, and he grew up a huge fan," said Todd's wife, Cher, like him a longtime biology teacher at Tarpon Springs High School.
Their son D.J., 34 — whose daughter, Ellie, is not yet 1 but already wears the jersey of quarterback Carson Wentz — remembers his grandfather teaching him how to read box scores in the morning paper, inheriting the family love of all things related to Philadelphia sports.
"For my family, (the Super Bowl win) meant the world to us, "said D.J., a manager of a GameStop video-game store in Trinity. "The moment that they clinched it, when the clock read double zero, I was in my dad's arms and the tears started flowing."
And what is multigenerational fandom without a little superstition? Todd's high school number as he grew up across the river from Philadelphia in Cherry Hill, N.J., was 52. His wife — age 52, she points out — had gotten him a custom No. 52 replica Eagles jersey, so of course the Eagles werelined up to win Super Bowl 52.
"Every year they lose, lose, lose," Cher said. "This year I really thought they were going to take it."
She decided to surprise her husband and son with tickets to Philadelphia to celebrate at the Super Bowl parade. She was confident enough that the Eagles would win that she nearly booked tickets before Sunday's 41-33 victory against the Patriots, but she didn't out of fear that such a move would jinx their team.
The trip still nearly didn't happen. Cher was recovering from spinal surgery last week (she paced during Sunday's game partially out of anxiety but also because of doctor's orders that she walk often as she recovers). She was healthy enough that her husband and son could fly out Thursday morning.
"You pay homage to the ones who suffered for all the years before us, where you got close to the brass ring and it's yanked from you," Todd said. "It's a way of life, and it makes this win so much better. This was our pilgrimage. It was beautiful, nirvana. This was the place for my father to feel that victory with us, to have that peace of mind."
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.