Jersey City residents and figures from all across the city gathered along JFK Boulevard on Friday to celebrate the Saint Peter’s Peacocks historic run in the NCAA men’s tournament, where the team became the first number 15 seed in history to have ever reached the Elite Eight.
“Jersey City stand up, let’s go!” chanted coach Shaheen Holloway with the crowd cheering outside the St. Peter’s campus. “We made history, all of us! Peacock Nation!”
The hometown heroes were greeted with jubilant cheers and confetti from residents, students, alumni, fans and officials alike, where they had strung together massive upsets in the tournament to reach the top eight, and won the hearts of many for their underdog story.
Despite their elimination from the tournament on Sunday to North Carolina, the team was filled with pride and joy as they waved to the crowds en route to the campus in bright blue and white floats, with residents and fans decked out in Peacock’s t-shirts, signs and merch all over the boulevard.
“I’m so excited to see them and support them,” said Jacquilne Powell-Wick, who’s an alumni of St. Peter’s alongside her family.
Zeuvi Baber, another alumni herself, attended the parade alongside her husband and daughter, who said that the latter is a future Peacock in the making. “It was just unbelievable,” said Baber in reference to the team’s run. “I mean, it’s such a small school. What they were able to accomplish was just unbelievable and amazing for us.”
Leading the parade was the Jersey City police and fire departments, a whole host of city schools, alumni, and officials from St. Peter’s, the city, Hudson County, the State Legislature, and even the U.S. Senate.
St. Peter’s player Isiah Dasher, who’s a Jersey City native himself, was beaming with the entire city coming together to celebrate the team. “You know, just a couple of guys playing basketball,” he said. “We didn’t even think we could make it this far. Look at this.”
Doug Edert, the man with the stache himself, hyped up the crowd. “Make some noise!” he shouted, with the crowd chanting his name. “Make no mistake, none of it would have been possible without everybody here!”
U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, an alumni of St. Peter’s himself, was also there to congratulate the team for their efforts.
“Some of my friends in the Senate would say to me ‘We know what they did was impossible’,” he said. “And I said to them ‘No, you don’t understand. If you’re from St. Peter’s University, nothing is impossible!’ Hard work, sacrifice, grit, determination, that’s what paid off.”
Mayor Steven Fulop awarded the team the keys to the city, as well as a proclamation to memorialize the day. “As long as St. Peters is here, and as long as Jersey City is here, today will be memorialized as officially a day that we recognize the Peacocks as the best the city has to offer,” he exclaimed.