BOSTON - Tens of thousands of Red Sox fans lined the streets from Fenway Park to City Hall on Tuesday to cheer Boston's second World Series title in four years, and celebrate how a team once known for losing was again baseball's best.
"People lived and died before they saw a world championship and we've seen two in the last four years," Providence College student Mike Foley said.
Red Sox players and their families boarded amphibious, World War II-era duck boats outside the stadium for a three-mile journey through the city. Screaming fans greeted them as they climbed into the 20 brightly colored boats normally used for tourists. Each boat was labeled with the names of the players on board.
The crowd at Copley Square erupted in cheers when the parade paused briefly for closer Jonathan Papelbon to dance his now infamous version of an Irish jig on a flatbed truck to "I'm Shipping Up to Boston." He was accompanied by the Dropkick Murphys a Boston-based punk rock band with heavy Irish folk music influence.
Before the parade, the band presented Papelbon with his own kilt plus one for ace Josh Beckett and general manager Theo Epstein, who promised to dance with him. They also made a kilt for slugger David Ortiz, whom they hoped to coax into the jig.
But for the first stop, at least, Papelbon danced alone, wearing jeans, a red championship T-shirt and dark sunglasses and waving a large cigar in his hand. The parade was to stop at two other places along the route for more dancing and music.
Reliever Mike Timlin tied the bullpen mascot, a stuffed parrot, onto one of the speakers on the Dropkick Murphys' flatbed. On another boat, six members of Boston's bullpen recreated their postseason jam sessions.
The caravan of duck boats followed a similar route to the rolling celebration staged after the Red Sox broke an 86-year World Series drought in 2004 by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals. The Red Sox completed a sweep of the Colorado Rockies on Sunday with a 4-3 win in Denver.
Mark Rinaldi, a student at Harvard, said he attended the 2004 parade and "I never thought I'd be able to do it again in my lifetime. To do it twice is pretty incredible."
Most of the players and manager Terry Francona wore bright red hooded championship sweatshirts. Some, including first baseman Kevin Youkilis and reliever Mike Timlin, wore T-shirts that said "We did it AGAIN." Many of the players took photos or video recordings of the fans along the way.
Manny Ramirez yelled into a microphone as his boat slowly passed the crowd, saying how much he loved Boston and thanking the fans.
Owner John Henry, wearing an argyle gray sweater, tapped his hand on his heart in thanks as he waved to fans from a lead boat, which also carried the new World Series trophy. Fans yelled to team management "Re-sign Lowell," a reference to World Series MVP Mike Lowell, who is now a free agent.
Fans decked out in Red Sox gear lined the route, holding signs and cheering for the team. Some couldn't resist a shot at the archrival New York Yankees and former Red Sox star Johnny Damon, who defected to New York after the 2004 championship.
"Johnny Damon is home changing diapers," read one sign. "This is better."
Another fan held a sign that said, "A-Rod: Mr. April, Miss October."
There were some indications Boston fans might even be getting picky about their championships, with 2004 and 2007 coming when the Sox were on the road.
Ortiz said a fan asked him when the team was going to win a World Series at Fenway.
"I told him, 'Dude, it doesn't matter where you win it, as long as you win it,'" Ortiz said.
Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said before the parade that he could not choose which Series win he liked better.
"They're two flavors of ice cream — they both taste good," he said. You can't choose among them. I think the next one is going to taste good, too."
Mayor Thomas Menino acknowledged having the celebration on a week day would inconvenience some businesses and keep school children away, but said players were eager to get home to their families and begin their vacation. This year's parade had one significant difference from the 2004 parade: it did not proceed into the Charles River. Menino said that decision was made by the team.
Menino also said a "rolling rally" was easier for city officials to manage, because it spread out the crowds. He estimated security would cost $500,000.
Police refused to give a crowd estimate. People were lined up along the three-mile route, at least a dozen deep at some points.