Roars of pure joy shook the city to its foundation yesterday as the victorious Phillies paraded through the streets before teeming crowds of jubilant fans, who stood on newstands, climbed trees and perched on rooftops to get a glimpse of Philadelphia's World Series champs.
"In 25 years I've never seen a championship. It means everything," said Andrew Christman, from Bensalem, who in fact is only 23, as he leaned against a barricade outside City Hall. "This is the greatest. It's good to see the city all together."
This was the first parade for a Philly sports team in 25 years - since the 76ers captured the NBA crown in 1983. Officials estimated the unbelievably massive crowd at 2 million, although they were checking aerial photos and videos.
Shortly after noon, the eight floats rolled from 20th and Market streets to City Hall and then south on Broad Street to Citizens Bank Park. The Phanatic, ball girls and broadcasters were first. They were followed by the World Series trophy, Phillies coaches and staff. Then came three floats for players.
Mayor Nutter and his wife, Lisa, rode with the Phils' manager, Charlie Manuel. Sipping cans of Bud Light, Pat Burrell rode atop a Budweiser wagon hauled by eight Clydesdale horses.
Originally predicted to last 90 minutes, it took more than three hours for the parade to make it to the ballpark.
Huge crowds waited for hours outside City Hall. They climbed trees, jumped onto newsstands and sat on one another's shoulders to get a glimpse. When the parade drew near, a sea of cameras and cell phones were hoisted as red, white and blue confetti filled the air.
"The World Series has pulled everybody together. We're all family right now," said James Parrish, 35, who drove over from Millville, N.J., to watch from outside City Hall.
At Broad and Walnut streets, high school and college kids hoisted one another up to building ledges so they could get a better view. Marcus Hines, 15, his slender body tucked between two concrete pillars at least 20 feet off the ground, beamed even though it appeared as if one small misstep would send him tumbling.
"I'm not scared," he said. "It's the Phillies."
College kids helped each other to the top of a newsstand. There they sat, in the best - or at least the highest - seats in the outside house.
Marcie Neher, 40, of Richboro, Bucks County, stood at Broad and Walnut with her husband and three children.
"I was here in 1980. I had to be here now. I was 13 back then. I went with my parents. It was chaos then. It's chaos now. But good chaos," she said.
Although Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels were the most popular costumes worn by spectators, there was a Halloween flavor to the crowd - a zombie, John McCain, SpongeBob SquarePants and Superman were among characters seen along the parade route.
Down Broad Street, the crowds were 10 to 20 people deep at the intersections and, in some places, four deep on the street. Some South Philly guys figured they should take it easy while they waited. Brian Childs, 25, and a buddy dragged a couch to Broad Street and sat there with a box of Kix and observed the festivities.
"You know, we were standing here for hours and we figured if we're going to watch the parade, we might as well be comfortable," said Childs.
Judging from the number of children in the crowds, it was hard to imagine that any kid within a 60-mile radius of Center City was in school yesterday.
Near 20th and Market, holding a white sign with the Tug McGraw-inspired slogan "You Gotta Believe!" was Alex Emerich, 5, of Lancaster. Next to him was his big brother, 10-year-old Bailey.
The youngsters and their mom, Emily, and grandmom Janet Zerbe, of Myerstown, Pa., left at 6:30 a.m. to be part of the celebration.
"I'm here because I get to see all my favorite players," announced Bailey, "and I'm glad to be here."
Zerbe said: "I wanted my grandsons to see this, and I wanted to be here, too. My father was a huge Phillies fan. We had to come here. This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing for us."
Although they started gathering early in the morning, fans were definitely having a good time. They chugged beers, popped bottles of champagne and openly smoked marijuana in the crowds. Still, problems were minimal. As of 5 p.m., the city reported 44 arrests, all on minor charges.
The parade concluded with rallies at Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park.
The Linc wasn't full, but when Charlie Manuel and his team did a quick lap with the Commissioner's Trophy, the crowd responded as if Eagles safety Brian Dawkins had emerged from the inflatable Eagle-head tunnel on a sold-out Sunday.
"I'm just glad [pitcher Brad] Lidge didn't throw up all over the mound," said Glenolden's Kevin Hart, contrasting the closer's performance on Wednesday with Donovan McNabb's in Super Bowl XXXIX.
The big post-parade celebration was at Citizens Bank Park, where players and coaches entered and rode around the field's edge on the trunks of convertibles. Pat Burrell rode holding the leash of his English bulldog, Elvis, who was introduced with him.
Center fielder Shane Victorino, pitcher Hamels and Lidge vowed that yesterday's parade would not be their last as Phillies. "The one thing I cannot wait to do is go down that Broad Street parade again and again and again," said Hamels, the World Series MVP.
That sentiment was popular with the crowd but second-baseman Utley found a way to top it. "World champions!" Utley said when his turn to speak came. "World f---ing champions!"
Utley's shocker brought the house down and seemed to stun his teammates. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins followed him to the mic. "Honestly? I don't know how to follow up Chase," Rollins said, laughing.