About 3,000 fans braved sub-zero wind chills Saturday afternoon for the Browns Perfect Season Parade, a tongue-in-cheek protest/celebration of Jimmy Haslam and company after an 0-16 campaign that tied Cleveland with the Detroit Lions of 2008 for the single worst record in an NFL season since the league expanded the schedule to 16 games in 1978.
The light-hearted event had, in the weeks before as the losses mounted and the record solidified, been the subject of a bizarre amount of opprobrium, seemingly becoming, depending on which side your opinion rested, a flashpoint referendum of sorts on fandom and city pride. Any fears of a disruptive or drunk gathering, let alone one that would somehow showcase the city in a less than favorable light, were predictably allayed as the parade, whose path was fittingly plotted to make a zero around FirstEnergy Stadium, began.
Fans were greeted with mostly PG-rated humor and floats including a dumpster, a Browns QB graveyard, season-ticket holders driving their brown and orange-festooned buses and vans, and an inflatable T-Rex with a sign reading, “No. 1 fan the last time the Browns won.”
All in all, it was good, clean (cold) fun, and a cathartic opportunity for loyal fans to vent about our miserable team literally an hour or so before the NFL playoffs kicked off.
While any resultant anger had mostly subsided from those opposed to the ingenious spectacle by the time everyone headed for warmer environs to defrost their chilled appendages, it seemed one group was still harboring some disdain. Jennifer Ciaccia, a spokesperson for the Cleveland police department, took to Twitter Sunday afternoon in a response to a tweet from Christian Kirksey, one of the few Browns players to take an (ill-advised) public stance on the parade.
“A lot of us in law enforcement worked this silly event yesterday… babysitting some toddlers having a tantrum,” she wrote. “We’d do better to support our athletes. @kirksey thanks for all you do in the community.”
Ciaccia later deleted the tweet because it had tagged Kirksey and she didn’t think involving him in a Twitter canoe of dissent was fair, but our general objections to it are worth noting still for posterity.
Yes, it perhaps makes a mountain out of a molehill — this is about a fucking Browns parade, after all — but: 1) Cleveland police are paid and employed to protect us all, and for them to opine on which events merit their service and which don’t is troubling; 2) If some angry Browns fans engender this sort of response, imagine their disdain for protests of, ya know, actual issues; 3) City employees probably shouldn’t be in the business of insulting residents; 4) To proclaim we should “do better by our athletes” while openly complaining about serving residents is astoundingly dumb but perhaps not surprising; 5) “Toddlers having a tantrum” could more aptly describe the Cleveland police department’s response to being under a federal consent decree for systemic failings; 6) All that said, at least the continuity of unexamined support of failing institutions is unbroken here.