SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Ecstatic throngs of people, estimated at more than a million, lined San Francisco’s Market Street Wednesday to watch a confetti-drenched parade and rally celebrating the San Francisco Giants 2012 World Series Championship — a Halloween treat made even sweeter as a repeat performance from 2010..
The parade began about 11 a.m. and worked its way up from the foot of Market Street – festooned with the team’s holiday-appropriate orange and black colors on balloon arches – to the Civic Center, where an overflowing crowd stretched from the steps of City Hall to U.N. Plaza to view a massive community celebration.
Even before the parade started, pitcher Matt Cain made his way along a chain-link fence at the staging area, signing autographs. Other fans tossed hats over the fence that pitcher Ryan Vogelsong and catcher Buster Posey signed and threw back. When World Series MVP Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval appeared, the crowd began chanting his name and he playfully started throwing candy to the adoring crowd grasping at the fences.
A sea of hundreds of thousands of fans dressed in every kind of Giants garb imaginable, including the ubiquitous ‘Panda’ hats, were lined up 30 deep behind the barriers along the parade route – with many sitting on building ledges and rooftops and others leaning out of windows and climbing trees – for a look at their favorite players waving from convertibles.
Star reliever Sergio Romo, wearing a T-shirt that read, “I just look illegal,” whipped the roaring crowd into a frenzy when he got out of his convertible and mingled.
Clouds of black, orange and white confetti were shot from cannons positioned on roofs and along the canyon-like, skyscraper-lined parade route. It showered spectators and parade participants, who included legendary Giants alumni Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal.
“It was simply magical to look up and down Market Street and see nothing but a sea of black and orange,” said Octavia Hildreth, a 35-year-old San Francisco parade goer who was wearing a World Series Brian Wilson jersey, Romo socks, and a Jeremy Affeldt signed hat. “I’m so proud of the Giants for showing the world what we already know, that they are champions again — no fluke about that.”
The unifying energy of the Giants’ latest victory was evident as San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith drove the car carrying Cain and his family, while 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh did the honors for the Giants’ Brandon Belt.
The 1 1/2-mile parade procession included marching bands, fire trucks and motorized cable cars, with Giants manager Bruce Bochy bringing up the rear as he hoisted the World Series trophy from the back of a gold Rolls Royce.
Bochy told the the rally crowd at the parade’s end in the Civic Center that the tagline of the 2012 Giants was “never say die,” a reference to the team’s come-from-behind, post-season dominance.
He credited the fans and his players’ “unselfish play” for helping to lift San Francisco to its second World Series victory in three years, an improbable double play for a franchise that had not won the title since 1954.
“I thank you for always being there, for never giving up,” Bochy said. “Thank you for showing up wherever we’ve been and making this one of the greatest moments of my life.”
A short time later, Posey, the National League MVP and batting champion, sounded similar sentiments: “Looking around, and seeing all the excitement and happiness on everybody’s face, you realize that an accomplishment like this means more than just winning a game.”
“This is about making memories that will last a lifetime,” he said.
As with the 2010 parade, this year’s several-hour edition drew a cross-section of the Bay Area, from children who were allowed to skip school to older couples who had been Giants fans since the team arrived in San Francisco from New York in 1958.
“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” said Ryan Lopez, of Fremont, who along with his wife Kristy took the day off from work and brought their twin 10-month-old sons, J.J. and Xavier to the celebration.
Sandoval, who swatted three home runs in his first three at bats in Game 1, and second baseman Marco Scutaro, who batted in the winning run of the game that clinched the title, exemplified the Bay Area’s diversity – addressing the rally in Spanish.
“This is the second, but there are going to be a lot more,” Sandoval said, expressing special thanks to the Bay Area’s Latino community. “You should enjoy this and feel this in your hearts.”
Casandra Buenrostro, 25, who arrived at the plaza at 5 a.m. so she could get pictures of Sandoval, did.
“He made me cry,” Buenrostro said. “He’s an inspiration.”
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee handed Giants President Larry Baer a ceremonial metal “broom to the city” for their four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers along with the customary key.
“No team wins the World Series without a little magic — and you fans are our magic,” Baer told the crowd. “Let’s enjoy this moment as a team, as a city, and as a community.”
Before the days’ festivities wrapped up with a surprise appearance from legendary crooner Tony Bennett, who serenaded the players and fans with his signature song, “I Left My Heart In San Francisco,” a short but inspired speech from Romo may have summed up much of the crowd’s emotions and feelings.
“There’s one thing I’ve noticed about my team — we are a great example of this city. Look at the diversity of personalities, where we all come from, the different faces from places, the different folks from different strokes,” said Romo, who struck out the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera to get the last out of Game 4 to win the World Series.
“Look at each one of my teammates, and we’ve all got a different story — but we all had one goal in mind, we all had one job in mind, we all had one dream in mind, and that was to become World Series champions as a group. Congratulations San Francisco, we definitely couldn’t have done it without you guys,” he concluded.
With the victory parade and celebration coinciding with Halloween, costumed masses brought an even more festive feel to what city officials hoped would be a trouble-free event.
“You’ve got to come out and celebrate like this. You meet a whole new family, make new friends, and it really lets the community celebrate in a positive way,” said Richmond resident Kevin Yarbrough wore a giant white panda costume in tribute to Sandoval.
Police said a dozen people were arrested for public intoxication and officers issued a few citations for fighting, but the crowds generally were peaceful and cooperative.
“All of the hoopla is just great, with the Giants victory, and the fact that it’s Halloween too—BART was quite the scene this morning,” said Mary Lou Welsh, 54, of Brentwood, who was among many fans who started arriving early Wednesday morning to secure good vantage points to watch the parade.
Alex Warlen and Kelly Simms, both 17, were among the hundreds of people who camped out overnight in the plaza to ensure they had prime viewing spots. Warlen is a pitcher and Simms a catcher for the softball team at San Francisco’s Mercy High School. The team is co-champion of its division.
“Buster is the reason I’m a catcher,” read a sign Simms carried, referring to the Giants’ Posey. The high school seniors said Mercy administrators gave students the day off, so they weren’t cutting school.
“We would have skipped anyway,” Simms said.
(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. Wire services contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved. Wire services contributed to this report. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)