Ken Hoffman rallies Houston to shatter the 1 million-attendance mark for the downtown Astros parade
Houston city officials are estimating that 1 million fans will pack downtown streets for the Astros victory parade on Monday, November 7. (Get all the details here.)
They’d better hope that I show up. Otherwise they’d have to downgrade their estimate to 999,999 fans.
I’m not saying that city officials are overly optimistic, but Houston does have a history of exaggerating crowd sizes. Hey, the Houston Texans still insist that 67,000 fans are packing NRG Stadium for games. And the city throws numbers around like 400,000 people lining downtown streets for the Thanksgiving parade. That’s just crazy talk.
The Astros parade will cover 1.7 miles down Smith Street from Preston to Tuam starting at noon. That’s almost twice the distance of the 2017 Astros parade, but not even close to the 3-mile route starting at Smith and Tuam (actually the finish line) that some media outlets reported on Sunday. Don’t they have GPS on their phones?
The weather is supposed to be fair and toasty, schools will be out, and all signs are pointing to a record crowd Monday.
Back in 2017, Astros’ stars George Springer, Carlos Correa, Josh Reddick, Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, Brad Peacock, Evan Gattis, manager A.J. Hinch, and others rode fire trucks waving at fans. They’re all gone.
Only five Astros remain from that championship season: Justin Verlander, Yuli Gurriel, Alex Bregman, Lance McCullers, Jr. and José Altuve. The more things changed, the more they stayed the same: World Series kings again.
The previous most-attended parades in Houston were after the Rockets won the NBA title two years running in the mid-‘90s. Officials say 500,000 people watched superstar Hakeem Olajuwon, coach Rudy Tomjanovich, and the Rockets celebrate downtown.
If the Astros do draw 1 million for their parade, it would be about half of everybody who lives in Houston (the fourth biggest city in the U.S. with 2.1 million population). The population of Harris County, the third-biggest county in the U.S., is 4.7 million.
In this politically charged and divided election year, the one thing everybody can agree on is … we love our Astros.
The 2017 Astros parade was held along a winding route similar to the Thanksgiving parade: starting at Smith and Lamar, going east on Walker, looping south on Milam, then west on Pease, turning north on Smith back to the start line. Mayor Sylvester Turner said 1 million people attended that parade and he thought the number could go even higher after officials reviewed video footage.
Mayor Turner’s judgment could be excused by giddy Astros fever. Consider this: city parade counters, possibly groggy from tryptophan, used to claim that 400,000 people watched the Thanksgiving parade along that same 20-block route as the Astros parade in 2017.
For that to be true, there would have to be 20,000 people lining each short city block, standing just on the sidewalk. That’s more than a sold-out crowd at Toyota Center emptying onto all 20 blocks, even the ones that appeared sparsely attended. At least we know that Enron accountants found work.
That’s to reach 400,000 spectators. To say one million people watched the 2017 Astros parade, even with fans hanging out windows of buildings and poking out of parking garages, that’s a tough one to buy.
A few years ago, after officials claimed 250,000 people were at the Thanksgiving parade, I found an expert in crowd estimates who used overhead photos and a formula of one person per two square feet of standing room. He put the Thanksgiving parade crowd at 20,000. I’m not a math expert, but 20,000 is less than 400,000. A whole lot less.
The Astros route Monday will be nearly twice as long as the 2017 route. METRO rides will be free. Most compelling, the Astros are more popular than Thanksgiving turkey, especially white breast meat, which is dry and extremely overrated.
So the Astros do have an outside shot at 1 million. I’m sure city officials will claim and media outlets will report 1 million. Just get there early.