Off the train, into a cab, around a corner onto Fairmount Ave. and there it was.
Sitting prominently on the famous steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, kids and their families sprinted eagerly to pose next to it while museum go-ers stopped and pointed.
This was not the Rocky statue. Instead, a massive replica of the official adidas PRIME matchball of Major League Soccer. This was the #GiantBall.
Like any game, the ball was the star today, the thing that everyone (including a horde of media) had their eye on. That is, until Commissioner Garber and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter stepped up to the podium to signal the start of five straight days of festivities here in Philly.
Despite the spotty weather conditions (Read: It was freezing), Philadelphia Union faithful were out in force to hear Mayor Nutter show a little love for the lone Union representative in this year's game (Carlos Valdes) and welcome the rest of the League to the city he oversees.
Following the announcement, a massive group of children lined up side-by-side next to the Giant Ball to kick more appropriately-sized adidas Prime replicas down the steps. Once the last had been launched, the Sharpies came out for a signing session of a different variety.
The kids on hand weren't given any autographs on this day. Instead, they were permitted to make their mark on the ball that will make its way all over the city until Wednesday. The Commissioner got in on the action, as well:
Immediately after the event, the Giant Ball was already on the way, stopping next at Tir Na Nog on Arch Street where Jeff Agoos and Nelson Rodriguez gave an in-depth presentation on the nuts and bolts of MLS to local supporters. No gloss, no sugar-coating which made the dialogue that much more valuable for everyone taking part.
Smiles all around, it's going to be a good week.