Confetti rained down and the "Hallelujah Chorus" resounded through Boston's streets Saturday as grateful fans embraced the World Series champion Boston Red Sox during a jubilant parade that even went afloat on the Charles River.
An estimated 3.2 million people packed the 11km parade route on a raw autumn day with spitting rain, standing in dense crowds, hanging from windows and cheering from rooftops.
Some held signs bearing words of thanks, marriage proposals and expressions of wonder at the team's achievement after 86 years of dashed hopes since its last championship in 1918. The Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals in four straight games to win the World Series.
"All is forgiven," read one banner. "Now we just have to wait for the other six signs of the apocalypse," said another. And dozens said simply: "Thank you."
"It started raining and it was cold and the people didn't even care," pitcher Derek Lowe said. "They've waited a long time. You'll never see a parade like that with so many people, no matter what sport or what city."
The parade wound from Fenway Park, past Boston Common and City Hall and onto the Charles River, with Red Sox players riding 17 of the amphibious vehicles known since World War II as "ducks."
Businesses along the route rose to the occasion, with one wedding boutique putting a bright red "B" on each dress in its display window.
The team's first appearance in a World Series since 1986 came at the expense of the Yankees, Boston's archrivals whom the Red Sox beat in a historic comeback in the AL championship series, winning four straight after losing three.
"Every Red Sox fan from now on can walk into Yankee stadium with their head high," said catcher Jason Varitek.