Georgia native among the millions fans who turned out for Patriots Super Bowl parade

  • James Helm of Rome, Georgia, stands at the gates of Gillette Stadium, Tuesday afternoon. Helm made the drive from Georgia following the New England Patriots’ victory over Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 53. COURTESY JAMES HELM

  • James Helm of Rome, Georgia, stands along the parade route in Boston, Tuesday. Helm made the drive from Georgia following the New England Patriots’ victory over Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 53. COURTESY JAMES HELM

For the Gazette
Published: 2/6/2019 12:30:29 AM

BOSTON — An ocean of eager fans dawning blue and white jerseys flooded the streets of Boston. It was that time of the year once again.

For the 12th time since 2001, a Boston professional sports team was celebrated for winning a championship. The New England Patriots claimed their sixth Super Bowl title against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, and on Tuesday over a million fans turned out for the parade.

As the duck boats drove down Boylston Street carrying the champion Patriots, cheers of “WE’RE STILL HERE!” and “NOT DONE YET!” filled the air along with a blizzard of confetti. Once Super Bowl 53 ended, fans were already celebrating and planning their commute to the parade.

“I was with a bunch of friends and I really usually don’t drink, but I had a couple beers and I was pretty much yelling at the top of my lungs the whole game,” said James Helm of Rome, Georgia. “It was a masterpiece game plan by (Bill) Belichick. My Sunday night consisted of me celebrating until 2:30 in the morning and then jumping in the car and making my way up here on no sleep.”

Helm, 32, had never been to New England. Realizing that championships in Boston are common but not guaranteed, Helm made the decision to make the 17-hour drive to title town immediately.

“I would describe it as a pilgrimage,” Helm said. “I mean Boston is just known as a sports town and you can see that everyone here is really passionate about it.”

Helm parked at Newton Station where he took the train into the city in order to avoid the heavily congested traffic. Upon boarding the train, he was greeted with a swarm of like-minded individuals fixed on celebrating their team’s victory. Living in Georgia his whole life, Patriots fans are few and far between. Being a part of the crowd was a dream come true for Helm.

“It’s incredible and it’s a little surreal to be honest,” Helm said. “It’s a lot to take in. It’s a lot to take in but it’s awesome. The people in the North get a bad rap but they’re super friendly towards me, although I think my accent stands out a bit.”

Feeling right at home was a welcoming feeling for Helm, as well as an unusual one. Living in Georgia, he finds himself surrounded by Atlanta Falcons fans who still haven’t forgotten the outcome of Super Bowl 51. Overcoming a 28-3 deficit late in the third quarter, the Patriots won in overtime, and Helm was celebrating alone.

“It can be a little rough but Georgia gets a bad rap,” Helm said. “I mean y’all kind of knew how it was before the Red Sox finally snapped their streak and when the Patriots won in ‘01. There have been a lot for you guys so Georgia is all we really got with the Braves in ‘95. It’s them versus everybody so it’s a little relatable.”

Even though most of his friends and the majority of people around him are all tired of the Patriots winning, Helm couldn’t be happier. Living outside of New England means having an unpopular taste in teams, but Helm handles his choice in sports franchises with respect and integrity.

“Living in northwest Georgia, it’s mixed,” Helm said. “Some people hold it against me, some people don’t. I’m a diehard fan and I’ve been to five games in my life. I’ve traveled as far as Detroit, Michigan, to see them play. Some people will give you grief, but that says more about them than it does about me.”

Boylston Street was just the first stop on Helm’s time in Massachusetts. Once the parade concluded he went sight seeing at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. While leaving the parade, he decided to return for every championship from now on so he doesn’t miss another spectacular celebration. After six Super Bowl titles and a journey to the Northeast, Helm will return to Georgia with the experience that every Boston native knows.

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