The New York Giants, winners of this year's Super Bowl, were given a boisterous welcome by thousands of fans in a confetti filled victory parade through the Canyon of Heroes lined by Manhattan's skyscrapers.
The Giants were treated as homecoming heroes. Two days ago they won unexpectedly by a score of 17-14 over the three-time champion New England Patriots.
Fans throughout the route chanted 18 and 1, focusing on the season's win-loss record of the team they defeated. The Patriots' one and only loss came in the Super Bowl, spoiling dreams of an undefeated season.
About 50 tons of paper was expected to rain down from office buildings above, according to city officials. Below, double-deck buses and flatbed trailers pulled by trucks carried players, training staff, families and city officials.
Crowds along the parade route were packed 20 persons deep in some areas, barely leaving walking space as buses carrying players, bands, bag pipe ensembles made their way down Broadway. Police did not make a formal announcement about the size of the crowd.
At the end of the parade route, a rally kept the festivities going at City Hall Park. A marching band and cheerleaders crowded a stage before former American Idol contestant Tamira Gray performed the national anthem.
Afterward, Giants players, training staff and management took the stage together with government officials. The event was also televised on the outskirts of the park on a jumbo screen outside a heavily guarded area to accommodate the throngs of fans.
Michael Strahan, a defensive specialist for the Giants, gave the crowd a laugh during his turn to speak. He shared a special move he uses to pump up his team mates before games called stomping you out. It calls for players to leap into the air and pretend to stomp their opponents.
We would like to extend this to every other team in the NFL and particularly for the last team we defeated, the New England Patriots. Because you know what we did to you? We stomped you out!
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave team members and staff keys to the city.
The Giants may not be perfect, but no one is, at least not this year in the NFL, Bloomberg said. Also on hand to congratulate the team was New York governor Eliot Spitzer and Senator Charles Schumer.
Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Eli Manning praised the city.
On behalf of the team, I just want to tell you how proud we are to bring a championship back to New York City,'' the New York quarterback said. ``We play football for the greatest city in the world, and all of you deserve to have the greatest football team in the world.''