For Petaluma kindergarten teacher Kristine Zueger, summer vacation is starting with a parade.
Not just any parade, but a massive celebration in Oakland today for the Golden State Warriors’ second NBA championship in three years.
Zueger, her son Zach, his girlfriend and another friend were up well before dawn Thursday to catch a BART train in Richmond for the ride into Oakland.
“It’s just exciting to be part of the moment,” Zueger said. ‘You never know when it’s going to come around again.”
They weren’t alone. More than a million people are expected to flood downtown Oakland for today’s celebration.
Hours before the 10 a.m. start, crowds started staking out spots along the parade route.
Marcela Gateb, a material planner for Treasury Wine Estates in Napa, held a prime spot on the corner of 12th Street and Broadway, near the parade’s start.
Gateb, who lives in Napa and attended high school in Oakland, is taking a half-day off work, with her supervisor’s permission.
“I needed to come. It’s one of those things you need to check off your bucket list,” she said.
Patty Nunez, a Los Angeles Police Department dispatcher, drove nine hours from West Covina on Wednesday with her 12-year-old son, Nicklas, and two of his friends to attend the parade.
The group spent the night in a hotel before catching a 4 a.m. taxi downtown.
She said she told the boys, “Why not, it’s your summer vacation. I’ll take you.”
Thursday’s celebration ends with a rally at the old Henry J. Kaiser convention center on the southwest side of Lake Merritt.
The rally, at Lakeshore and 12th street, is expected to start around 12:15 p.m. An overflow viewing area, located at Lake Merritt Boulevard and East 12th Street, will feature a live feed of the parade and rally.
Spectators were strongly encouraged to take public transit.
The event drew a large security presence, including SWAT team members in camouflage and bomb-sniffing dogs.
However, a team from Safari West near Santa Rosa was told to leave their critters at home, said Lowell Brian, a project manager for the organization, which brought a safari truck to the parade to ferry VIP’s.
Brian said he has fond memories of attending the 1975 Warriors championship run, back when he said the NBA was not as popular as it is today.
“I’m not sure the games sold out,” he said of the finals that year.
Now, Brian said he can’t afford to attend Warriors games, and sell-outs are common. But that hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for this year’s team.
“I love the style of basketball they play,” Brian said.
Today’s forecast for Oakland called for mostly sunny conditions with a high of 78 degrees. More information about the parade can be found at warriors.com/parade.
You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 707-521-5336 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @deadlinederek.