PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia thought it was done with hype and underperformance when football season ended.
Then came talk of a massive coastal storm, forecasts of a foot or more of snow and the disappointing reality: at most 3 to 5 inches that proved more annoying than life-altering.
The storm that shut down New York and much of New England on Monday and Tuesday shifted east, sparing Philadelphia and its suburbs from a crippling blow and prompting city officials to lift a snow emergency early Tuesday.
"I was hoping we were going to get a lot of snow," said parking attendant Jean Louis, 54. "I woke up and was like, 'It's a joke, man.'"
Before sunrise Tuesday, downtown Philadelphia hummed with sounds of plows, snow blowers and shovels scraping up the thin coat of white that materialized overnight.
Donna Whitaker huddled under the canopy of a high-rise office building as she waited for the bus. She said she was thrilled the blizzard bypassed Philadelphia because she had no way to get to work in heavy snow.
"I'm very happy," said Whitaker.
Amy Murakami started the first leg of her morning routine without a hitch just after 5 a.m. Murakami, a computer software architect in the Philadelphia suburbs, headed to the gym Tuesday before grabbing a bus to work.
"It's not so much the snow as the ice," said Murakami, pointing to the thin coating of snow on Chestnut Street. "I can still walk in this."
Despite the limited snowfall and steady footing, city, school and transit officials approached Tuesday with caution.
All public and Catholic schools and city offices in Philadelphia remained closed, nonessential state workers in the city were told to come into work two hours late and regional commuter rail were operating on a Saturday schedule.
More than 80 percent of flights in and out of Philadelphia International Airport were canceled Tuesday. Stranded passengers were given cots, pillows, blankets, bottled water and snacks.
Gov. Tom Wolf declared a state of emergency Monday night, and the National Guard activated 150 guardsmen.
Mayor Michael Nutter's snow emergency declaration had forced drivers out of parking spots on the city's main thoroughfares for plowing, but by 6 a.m., they were up for grabs again.
Zia Mughal started his day delivering bread earlier than usual.
Mughal, 41, said he wasn't scheduled to work until noon but was told to come in at 5 a.m. to get an early start. Standing at the back of his open delivery truck, Mughal said the roads hadn't been bad, but he hoped to be off the streets soon.
"It's not too bad out," Mughal said. "A lot of stores closed because they didn't know what was going to happen. Hopefully I'm done in (a couple) hours."
Although the roads were drivable, Mughal criticized the snow removal efforts in the city: "It's like they don't believe in cleaning up."