When the Parade Passes By

The author, Molly Devlin and friends celebrating the Philadelphia Eagles' Super Bowl win.  

The author, Molly Devlin and friends celebrating the Philadelphia Eagles' Super Bowl win.  

This past Sunday, the city of Philadelphia erupted in a fit of joy. We took to the streets to dance and scream and sometimes climb trash trucks. On Thursday, that joy took the form of our Super Bowl parade. The city has never seen so many people, not even when the Pope came to visit. Fans poured in from as far away as Hawaii. That’s powerful joy.

For fans notorious for whipping batteries at Santa, the city’s mood was surprisingly warm. Fans that had stood since 6 am sacrificed their hard-won positions at the front of the barricades so the smallest fans could see. Beers were shared and, more importantly, disposed of in a trash bag that someone had the foresight to bring along. We sang together, marched together and helped each other into the port-a-potties with grace. We protested the unjust imprisonment of Meek Mill, with signs and songs.

Philly’s mob mentality, for once, was a good thing. Even though a small off-shoot started fires and tore down light posts, overall, the City of Love tapped into communal joy. It moved us to make friends with the 21-year-olds walking to Broad Street with us...to share snacks with our parade neighbors...to let someone cut in line for a cheesesteak. This community-wide glee is hard to capture perfectly, but it felt like we the underdogs came out on top, even though we’re a little rough around the edges. One game gave us one Philadelphia, even if it only lasts a week.

Tapping into this kind of joy and shared values is electric. Sharing passion allows people to unite, to speak to each other with a common language. This week’s major win showed the accelerating impact of joy…just how quickly it can bring people together. As communications professionals, we seek to find the most effective ways to engage people from all demographics. Joy is one way to do that…possibly the best. Unlike anger, joy isn’t draining. It isn’t a response to a crisis or to a disagreement. It energizes and uplifts, orienting people to a potential future rather than an unfortunate past.

Anchoring in joy is critical to any communications plan. It gets people excited and builds positivity. Joy has a compounding effect; when you send it out into the world, people respond in kind. Radical joy is fueling, connecting and allows an unburdening, even if it’s just during a parade with a million other people wearing green. In a world that sometimes feels a little too cold and indifferent, we need all the joy we can get.

Molly Devlin