Lakers fans exult, complain, search for a bathroom [Updated]
As the Lakers parade came to an end, fans exulted in their team's victory and in the joy of coming together as Angelenos to celebrate.
But many said the celebration might have been more comfortable had the city and Staples Center provided more portable toilets. They also bemoaned the lack of a rally at the Coliseum as had been held last year.
"Kobe, I love you," screamed Kayla Brown, a student at Pepperdine University, as the truck carrying Kobe Bryant and the rest of the team went by. "Oh, my God, I'm still shaking," she said to her friends before immediately scrolling through her phone to see what pictures she had been able to capture.
Many fans got up before dawn to find places along the parade route. This led to a joyous sense of community -- and a desperate need to find a bathroom.
Staples Center arranged for 18 portable toilets, which many fans quickly discovered were not enough. By 10 a.m., at least one business was charging $5 for use of its facilities.
Vashawn Hicks, 21, of Palmdale camped out overnight at the start of the parade route so he could secure a front-row spot. He said he had spent the last seven hours wiggling his legs because he had to use a toilet so badly. He said he considered leaving his place to find one but quickly abandoned the idea.
"I'm not going to lose my spot," Hicks said. "These are the Lakers we're talking about."
Around him, the air filled with the smell of grilled bacon-wrapped hot dogs and marijuana and echoed with cheers and the sound of vuvuzuelas.
Albert Martinez, 32, said he drove overnight with eight other members of his family from Visalia. He said he came last year by himself and had such a good time that he wanted to share the experience.
"Just the people around you, it's so friendly, it's once in a lifetime," he said.
Meanwhile, the search for a bathroom was a common theme.
A line immediately formed outside two portable toilets dropped off by a sanitation truck shortly after 10 a.m. at Venice Boulevard between Flower and Figueroa streets. Leo Martinez, a Los Angeles city sanitation supervisor, said it quickly became obvious that the 18 commode booths Staples Center originally requested wouldn't be enough, so the city brought in more.
"Last year, they had the Coliseum open, and that fits 90,000," Martinez said. "This year, everybody's in the street."
Among them was a truck advertising WeedWorldCandies.com and selling marijuana lollipops in hues of orange and blue. (The truck itself was green with a photo mural of young women in bikinis sorting marijuana leaves.)
The assortment included brands of marijuana such as OG Kush and Grand Daddy Perp. The truck's owner, Bilal Muhammad, said he was recently forced to shut down his store in West Hollywood and had decided to take his business on the road.
Those approaching his truck were asked if they had a prescription card allowing them to purchase marijuana. If they did, they were handed a free lollipop.
"It's been working out very well," he said of business, before driving away as police became visible in the distance.
Despite the joy in the crowd, many fans were disappointed that the festivities were tamped down this year.
Israel Mendez, 19, of Pomona, walked to the Coliseum to try to secure a spot for the rally, only to find there was no rally this year.
"I felt really bad about it," he said. "We deserved it. We played hard this year."
Sharon Dacosta, a 38-year-old medical technician who lives in South L.A., said she was upset that she had not been able to catch a glimpse of Bryant. "What an insult," she said. "I barely saw anyone. You see more cop cars and firetrucks than players. People drove a long way. People took time off work."
An hour after the parade ended, the wait in line to get into the Metro station for the Blue Line was estimated to be an hour or more. The line was watched over by a sheriff's armored car and deputies with rifles.
After the buses carrying the players and coaches went by, Alfonso Sierra of Montebello dismantled a tent he had set up to shelter about 25 family members from the sun as they waited for the parade.
"Now, back to reality," he said.
[For the record, 2:35 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly spelled Alfonso Sierra's name. It also referred to the vehicle carrying the Lakers players as a bus. They were riding on a truck.]
-- Esmeralda Bermudez, Alexandra Zavis, Sam Allen and Gale HollandPhotos: (Top) During the Lakers' championship parade, Kobe Bryant and his team wave to the crowd from the open-top bus rolling along Figueroa Street as a fan photographs the scene on his cellphone. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times. (Middle) Ron Artest holds the championship trophy before the parade. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times. (Bottom) Lakers fans cheer for their team during Monday's parade in downtown L.A. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
Photos: Lakers victory parade
Panorama: Lakers on parade
Photos: A hard-fought series