The Peacocks have strutted home to a city ready to celebrate their incredible March Madness run that left the country stunned and the Jersey City community proud.
The parade, held on Friday, March 1, started at the statue of Abraham Lincoln between Lincoln Park and JFK Blvd and proceeded down JFK to end at Saint Peter’s University (SPU). The procession included not only the team, cheerleaders, and coaches of SPU Basketball, but also teams and bands from local schools in and nearby Jersey City, including McNair High School, Bayonne High School, and Hoboken High School. Thousands were gathered in their blue and white gear to celebrate the team’s homecoming as marching bands, bagpipers, and students amped up the crowd from the street ahead of the Peacocks riding in on a float to tremendous cheers and applause. The parade ended with speeches by Mayor Fulop; the President of SPU, Eugene Cornacchia; SPU’s Athletic Director, Rachelle Paul; and SPU alumni, Senator Bob Menendez, who presented two flags previously flown over The Capitol to the team. Head Coach Shaheen Holloway also made an impassioned speech to Peacock Nation that got the crowd pumped up before introducing members of the team to keep the incredible energy of celebration going.
The Peacock’s historic time in the NCAA March Madness Tournament began on March 17 with a first-round win against the Kentucky Wildcats. Being the no. 15 seed going up against a no. 2 seed team, the odds were overwhelmingly against them, but in the end, the team sealed their victory in overtime with an 85-79 win. This is only the 10th time a no. 15 seed team won a first-round game since 1985 when the tournament expanded to 64 teams, making it the fifth-largest upset in NCAA tournament history. It’s also only the fourth time Saint Peter’s University has been in the NCAA Tournament and their first win in March Madness. In response to this first of three bracket-busting victories, the internet was abuzz with “Who is St. Peter’s?” “Where did they come from?” But in Jersey City, the hometown pride was there from the start – Departed Soles sprang into action immediately, getting their commemorative Busted Bracket lager out overnight in time for game 2 – with no doubt that the team was going to show the nation exactly what they and Jersey City are made of.
The upsets continued into the second game, with St. Peter’s beating Murray State 70-60 and becoming only the third no. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16. On March 25, St. Peter’s defeated Purdue in a nail-biting game ending 67-64, conveniently held on “Peacock Day” as many on social media pointed out. To say Jersey City was excited is the understatement of the century, with packed bars erupting in cheers and celebrations in the streets across the city as the buzzer rang out another victory for the Peacocks. Their final game on March 27 against UNC saw a loss of 49-69, but the greater win came from being the first no. 15 seed to ever reach the Elite 8 in tournament history. And that feat deserves big recognition.
While the parade celebrated the SPU Peacocks’ incredible March Madness run and their impact on our community, the event also served as an inspiring reminder that anything is possible and to never underestimate an underdog. We’re proud to call St. Peter’s our neighbors and can’t wait to watch what they do next.