Crowds roar, bells ring in NYC as Yankees feted with parade, keys to city

Crowds roared, church bells rang and streams of paper rained down on Broadway Friday as the New York Yankees celebrated their 27th championship in a way only this city can, with a parade down the Canyon of Heroes.

New York Yankees baseball players Alex Rodriguez

NEW YORK — Crowds roared, church bells rang and streams of paper rained down on Broadway Friday as the New York Yankees celebrated their 27th championship in a way only this city can, with a parade down the Canyon of Heroes.

The players, joined by celebrity fans, drank it all in as they rode on floats through Manhattan’s financial district.

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 multitude who packed the sidewalks 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, en route to a second celebration at City Hall, where the mayor was to present them with keys to the city.

Yankees of the past were on hand too.

“Enjoy it,” former Yankees slugger Reggie Jackson said in an interview with WABC-TV. “Take it all in. You never know if it’ll happen again. It’s a special time and special thing.”

Fans enjoyed the experience too. University of Delaware student Suzanne Giraud said she lost her voice celebrating the championship.

“I’m here to celebrate the guardians of the dynasty,” she said.

At a subway station near the parade route, fans packed the staircase chanting, “Let’s go Yankees!” They also sang “New York, New York.”

Vincent Rogner, an 18-year-old senior at a Catholic high school in Queens, skipped classes Friday with some friends to attend the parade.

“I’m a die-hard Yankees fan,” he said. “I love the intensity.”

Rogner said his favourite part of the last game of the series was when Hideki Matsui tied the World Series record with six RBIs on a home run.

“We want to be with the fans who have our same passion,” Rogner said.

Matsui’s six RBIs helped the Yankees to the 7-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Revellers arrived early Friday to get a good spot along the route though many were forced to pack surrounding streets.

Gov. David Paterson and rapper Jay-Z were among those in the parade.

Bells were ringing at historic Trinity Church, but the roar of the crowds drowned out the sound.

Jackson said the Yankees’ 27th title has him thinking “a lot” about owner George Steinbrenner.

“I wish he was here,” Jackson said.

George Steinbrenner has made few public appearances since his health deteriorated in recent years. He attended the first two games against the Phillies, returning to the new Yankee Stadium for the first time since opening day.

His son, Hal, took over the day-to-day operations of the team last November.

“A magical day,” Hal Steinbrenner said. “New York just has the best fans in the world.”

Lower Broadway is known as the Canyon of Heroes. Some 200 ticker-tape parades have been held there, for heroes ranging from astronauts to sports champions to five-star generals.

The victory gave Yankees fans further ammunition to their boast that the Bronx Bombers are the greatest franchise in baseball history with an unprecedented 27 world championships in 40 trips to the World Series.

Some Yankees fans also were quick to note that Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins had predicted a Philadelphia victory in five games; as it turned out, the Yankees won the series in six games.

The title was their first since beating the crosstown rival Mets in the 2000 “Subway Series.” That Series evoked memories of the glory days of New York baseball in the 1940s and ’50s, when the Giants played in upper Manhattan, the Yankees in the Bronx and the Dodgers in Brooklyn. Nearly every October saw at least one New York team vying for the world title.

Mets fans had conflicted loyalties during this year’s Series, as well, being forced to choose between the despised American League champion Yankees and their National League East Division rival, the Phillies.

There were also geographical loyalties to consider, with fans in northern New Jersey largely backing the Yankees while fans in southern New Jersey tended to support the nearby Phillies.

The World Series victory comes during the inaugural season of a newly built US$1.5 billion Yankee Stadium. Attendance this year was 3.72 million, or an average of 45,918 for 81 regular-season home games. That’s down from 4.29 million, an average of 52,928, for the final season at the old Yankee Stadium.

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