Pomp of parade trumps Halloween as Philadelphia celebrates title

PHILADELPHIA -- Manager Charlie Manuel hoisted the World Series trophy Friday while players basked in a swarm of confetti, the Phanatic mascot danced and hundreds of thousands of Phillies fans roared in celebration of the city's first major sports championship in 25 years.

Left fielder Pat Burrell led the procession, riding a horse-drawn carriage and pumping his fists. Next came eight flatbed trucks filled with waving players and other members of the Phillies organization, including the furry green mascot.

Throngs in Phillies gear packed downtown sidewalks, making them almost impassable. Fans climbed trees, hung out of windows, watched from balconies, carried stepladders and stood on roofs to get a better view.

Center fielder Shane Victorino tossed soft pretzels to the crowd while shortstop Jimmy Rollins turned his hand-held video camera on the gathering.

World Series MVP Cole Hamels tried to fist bump a fan dressed like Philly's favorite fictional boxer, Rocky Balboa, but authorities intervened before they quite pulled it off.

The last time a Philadelphia team won a major title was in 1983, when the 76ers captured the NBA crown. The Phillies won their only other World Series in 1980. Current pitcher Jamie Moyer, who grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, skipped school to attend it.

"This is unbelievable. I'm starting to understand what it's really all about here," Moyer told The Associated Press as he rode down Broad Street. "I was at the parade in 1980 and that was pretty exciting, but today tops it by far."

Ben Anderson, a 25-year-old fan from Bear, Del., pleaded "Come back! Come back next year!" to the team as the players rolled by. Others chanted, "Bring back Pat," a reference to Burrell, who will be a free agent next season.

The Phillies then greeted tens of thousands of fans who had watched the parade on big screens at the city's baseball and football stadiums. The team first stopped at Lincoln Financial Field, where the Eagles play.

"This is the biggest parade I've ever been in," Manuel told the fans. "It's like Christmas came two months early."

The Phillies then headed to their home field of Citizens Bank Park, where a red "2008" banner was raised to celebrate their World Series championship. Manuel leaned into the microphone and giving his best Rocky impersonation: "Yo, man. We love you."

Hamels told the crowd he'd love to come back.

"One thing I can't wait to do is go down Broad Street for that parade again and again and again," Hamels said.

Second baseman Chase Utley approached the microphone and proclaimed, "World champions!" Then he repeated the phrase, with a profanity between "world" and "champions," drawing cheers for minutes.

Police were unable to immediately say if there were any disturbances or arrests along the parade route, but fans seemed mostly well behaved. Some sprayed champagne as officers in slow-rolling, foam string-covered police cruisers high-fived parade-watchers.

Organizers couldn't have asked for better weather. The clear, sunny skies and 60-degree temperature contrasted with the miserable, frigid rain that forced an unprecedented suspension of Game 5 against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Phillies won the title on Wednesday in wintry cold.

Havertown resident Keith Goodman skipped work to bring his 7-year-old son to Citizens Bank Park.

"I don't know if we'll ever get this chance again," Goodman said. "He's been saying it's been seven long years. I say it's 25 long years."

Nick and Patricia Gavin of suburban Delaware County, who were children when they attended the 1980 parade, brought their own downtown on Friday. Jaclyn, 10, planned to dress as a Phillies ball girl for Halloween, but 8-year-old brother Nicholas was too excited about the World Series to think about trick-or-treating.

"This made me forget about Halloween," he said.

Officials stressed using public transit, but the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority reported being overwhelmed by midmorning.

The agency ended up temporarily suspending commuter rail service into Philadelphia so that trains would be available for those leaving the parade. But with the stadium ceremony running more than an hour behind schedule, SEPTA said the crush of fans would run right into Friday evening rush hour.