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Daniels | For Savoy family, Super Bowl parade was memorable trip

Feb. 17—The idea had percolated in Tim O'Connell's mind for the past year, ever since his beloved Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl LVII.

If the Chiefs ever got to celebrate another Super Bowl with a parade in downtown Kansas City, Mo., the 42-year-old Savoy resident wanted to attend. And bring his 9-year-old son, Declan, with him.

So, in the minutes after watching the Chiefs rally for a 25-22 overtime win against the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday night to win Super Bowl LVIII and give Kansas City its second straight Super Bowl, O'Connell casually mentioned to his wife, Megan, the thought of he and Declan making the nearly 400-mile drive from Savoy to Kansas City.

"She didn't like that idea, but to my shock, booked us flights instead," Tim said. "So it was kind of on a whim that we decided to go."

Tim grew up in Columbia, Mo., attended Hickman High School in his hometown and graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., before getting his masters and PhD in electrical engineering at Illinois in the mid-2000s.

An electrical power engineer who designs and simulates aircraft power systems, Tim has rabidly followed the Chiefs since the early 1990s, with the franchise bolstered by stars like Joe Montana, Marcus Allen, Derrick Thomas and Neil Smith, among others, at the time.

But despite successful regular seasons during his childhood, the playoffs often brought about failure and disappointment to Tim.

"I really liked the 1993 team when they brought in Montana and Allen," Tim said. "That team lost to the Bills in the AFC championship game, and I've carried those scars with me ever since. The recent Chiefs' dominance of the Bills in the playoffs has really helped to fix that.

"I also liked the team in the late 1990s, but they just couldn't beat the Colts or Broncos. John Elway's name was a dirty word in our house in the playoffs, and the Chiefs pretty much lost the first playoff game every year."

Three Super Bowl titles in the last five seasons, however, is a stark contrast from the Chiefs teams he grew up watching.

Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Chris Jones, not to mention the coaching of Andy Reid, have headlined the Chiefs winning the Lombardi Trophy three times so far this decade.

But so have unsung contributions like the one former Illini Nick Allegretti has made. An offensive lineman who just wrapped up his fifth season with the franchise that drafted him in 2019, Allegretti played all 79 offensive snaps in the most recent win against the 49ers. All of this despite sustaining a torn UCL in his elbow during the second quarter and filling in for All-Pro left guard Joe Thuney during the Chiefs' final two playoff games.

Allegretti was the premise for a hand-made sign Tim and his son took with them to the parade.

Allegretti, a Frankfort native, sported a Chicago Blackhawks jersey during the parade. Tim was able to snap a few photos of Allegretti walking the streets of Kansas City, with Allegretti later liking a post on X that Tim's sister made of the sign that read, "Flew from Champaign to pop Champagne with Allegretti."

"I witnessed the debacle in Super Bowl LV against Tampa Bay back in 2021 when the Chiefs were playing with two backup tackles, and Allegretti played that game. I felt bad for him because he'd played really well throughout that season, but the offensive line got destroyed in that Super Bowl against the Bucs and got blamed for the loss," Tim said. "When I saw that he'd be playing for Thuney in the AFC title game and the Super Bowl this year, I was pulling for him. Most people probably don't pay much attention to the offensive guards in a football game, but I was watching him every snap to see how he did. He played great. If you watch that last drive in overtime, he was manhandling his dude on every play."

Thankfully, Tim and Declan had already left the parade before the tragic mass shooting unfolded at the end, killing one person and injuring 22.

The O'Connell crew left his sister's house at 6 a.m. on Wednesday and found a second-row spot along the route by 6:45 a.m. before the parade started at 11 a.m.

"Everyone was in such a good mood," Tim said. "It was a very family-friendly party atmosphere. There was a group to the left of us playing music, and people were sharing stories about the season and different games they'd attended. One couple had attended the Miami playoff game that had minus 27 degree windchill. They were talking about how you'd order a beer from the vendor and it would freeze to slush in the cup if you didn't chug it. We had a family with four little kids right behind us, and we shared some snacks with them. The number of Kansas City jerseys, signs and Taylor Swift-related items was amazing."

The parade capped off a whirlwind week for Tim and his family. One that was thought out, but also made in the spur of the moment.

The best part, though, for Tim? Making these memories with his son.

"Declan is getting spoiled with all this success," Tim joked. "It's funny because back in the 2019 season, I couldn't get my son to watch a game with me. Then, when the Chiefs lost to Tom Brady and the Patriots in the AFC championship game that season, he finally started to get interested because he saw how mad his dad got when his team lost to Tom. I think last season was the first one where he really started to pay attention and want to watch all the games."

Super Bowl LVIX is set for Feb. 9, 2025, in New Orleans, and the Chiefs don't seem like a longshot to win their third straight Super Bowl.

Plenty of time for the O'Connell family to start prepping for their next Super Bowl parade adventure.

Matt Daniels is the sports editor at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at 217-373-7422 or at mdaniels@news-gazette.com.