Crowds roared, church bells rang and streams of paper rained down on Broadway as the New York Yankees celebrated their 27th World Series championship on Friday in a way only the Big Apple can, with a parade up the Canyon of Heroes.
The players, joined by celebrity fans and Yankees of the past, drank it all in as they rode on floats and double-decker buses through Lower Manhattan.
It has been years since the city used actual ticker-tape to celebrate its World Series wins, but the experience was still authentic to the many thousands who crammed the sidewalks along the parade route near Wall Street.
“I love it!” said city sanitation worker John Freeman, as he raked up confetti and toilet paper rolls thrown from skyscrapers.
Whole families skipped work and school to be there. Players recorded the crowd with their cameras as they rode to a second celebration at City Hall, where the mayor presented the team with keys to the city.
Shortstop Derek Jeter carried the trophy, hoisting it high above his head while the crowd screamed and We are the Champions blasted on loudspeakers.
“It’s been too long, hasn’t it?” he told the crowd, a reference to the team’s eight-year absence from the top of Major League Baseball. “It feels good to be back.”
Fans and players brimming with classic New York confidence let it be known that they didn’t plan to relinquish their title anytime soon.
The crowd at City Hall chanted “28.” Manager Joe Girardi said he had already talked on the phone with team owner George Steinbrenner about not letting up.
“He told me this morning ... the only thing greater than this celebration is doing it two years in a row,” Girardi said. “So he asked me to remind everyone, pitchers and catchers report in 96 days. Be ready to defend it.”
Jay-Z capped the celebration with a performance of his song Empire State of Mind.
The Yankees beat the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies to win the best-of-seven series in six games. The title was the team’s first since 2000, and came during the first season of the new US$1.5 billion Yankee Stadium.
“There’s no better way to inaugurate a new stadium,” said Michael Rheubottom, a city jail guard, who attended with his 13-year-old son, Jason. “This is the house that Jeter built. We don’t even remember the house that [former Yankees slugger Babe] Ruth built.”
Pitcher Mariano Rivera, who waved a Panamanian flag as he rode in the parade, called the outpouring of support “beautiful.”
“The city of New York, the fans ... you can’t put it into words. It’s magnificent,” he said.
Alex Rodriguez, finally free of all the criticism that had been heaped upon him for failing to win a championship, wore a black hat and a wide smile.
“We waited a long time for this,” he said. “I’ve never seen so many people collected in one place. Excitement. It just seems like they were as hungry as we were. The fans really wanted this. They were hungry.”
Yankee greats of the past, including Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson, were on hand for the celebration. Jackson urged the players to enjoy the experience, saying: “You never know if it’ll happen again.”
Some fans were more confident the trophy would be back soon enough on lower Broadway — the narrow Canyon of Heroes that has seen some 200 ticker-tape parades for astronauts, foreign leaders, sports champions and five-star generals.