Hundreds of thousands of people lined downtown San Francisco’s Market Street this morning to watch the ticker tape parade celebrating the San Francisco Giants’ 2012 World Series Championship.

Fans started arriving early this morning to secure good vantages to watch the parade, which started at the foot of Market Street and gradually made its way to Civic Center Plaza for a series of speeches from local dignitaries, owners, players and other members of the Giants organization.

Mary Lou Welsh, 54, of Brentwood, who works in the financial district, decided to make her way to the start of the parade route near Market and Main streets to watch the festivities.

Although Welsh is normally A’s fan, she has been rooting for the Giants for the last few years as well, and wanted take in the celebratory atmosphere.

“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!” Welsh said.

A fleet of motorized cable cars, all festooned with orange, black, and white balloons, were part of the motorcade along with a group of Lexus convertibles that carried the players along the route.

Before the start of the procession, the vehicles and players were staged along Main Street, where large groups of fans gathered to catch glimpses of their favorite Giants.

Pitcher Matt Cain made his way along a chain link fence, signing autographs, while some fans tossed over hats to pitcher Ryan Vogelsong and catcher Buster Posey, who also obliged before sending the items back.

When World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval appeared, the crowd started chanting his name, and he playfully started throwing candy to the adoring throngs grasping at the fences.

Preceding the players at the front of the parade were a variety of other groups, including parts of the Giants organization such as the concessions staff, who carried a colorful handmade sign identifying themselves. As they made their way past the beginning of the parade, the crowd started chanting “Hot dogs! Hot dogs!” then “Garlic fries! Garlic fries!” with the masses clearly in a playful, joyous mood.

As the motorized cable cars started their engines and clanged their bells, signaling the start of the players’ movement, a huge roar went up from the crowd, and as players such as Marco Scutaro, Buster Posey and Barry Zito drove by with their families, fans screamed their affection and support for the newly crowned World Champions.

“I feel so thankful to be a part of the parade this time around. It was simply magical to look up and down Market Street and see nothing but a sea of black and orange,” said Octavia Hildreth, 35.

“I’m so proud of the Giants for showing the world what we already know, that they are champions again–no fluke about that,” added the San Francisco resident, who was wearing a 2010 World Series Brian Wilson jersey, Sergio Romo socks, and a Jeremy Affeldt signed hat.

Once the parade made its way to San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza, and preparations for the ceremony were under way, current Giants players, former stars, support staff and other dignitaries took their places on a stage erected in front of City Hall.

Kicking off the program, the cast of “Beach Blanket Babylon” led the crowd in a sing-along of “San Francisco (Open Your Golden Gate),” followed by Giants announcer Renel Brooks-Moon, who greeted the audience and heartily declared “This is so nice we had to do it twice!” eliciting a thunderous response from the throngs gathered in the plaza.

Giants broadcasters Jon Miller and Dave Fleming–after performing some smooth dance moves to the Korean hit pop song “Gangnam Style” — then introduced the team one by one, drawing cheers and applause from the crowd, before San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee approached the podium.

“They showed us the true meaning of teamwork–there’s a motto on the wall of their clubhouse: ’25 guys, one common goal–win today!'” Lee said.

“When I see all the kids wearing Giants gear throughout our city, I’m reminded of that dedication. Today in recognition of their achievement, I present the highest honor from our city–I give the key to the City of San Francisco to the entire team and coaching staff, everybody on the Giants!”

Lee then brought out the “Broom to the City,” marking the fact that the Giants swept the Detroit Tigers to win the World Series, and presented both to Giants President Larry Baer.

“No team wins the World Series without a little magic–and you fans are our magic,” Baer said.

“Let’s enjoy this moment as a team, as a city, and as a community.”

Manager Bruce Bochy was then introduced, and humbly asked the crowd giving him a standing ovation to “sit down, please, sit down,” before he said, “What makes this team so special is their unselfish play. If I had to put a tag line on this club it would be ‘Never say die!'”

Later, Posey, the National League MVP and batting champion, said, “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 with your friends and family that will last a lifetime,” he said.

Before the days’ festivities wrapped up with a surprise appearance from legendary crooner Tony Bennett, who sang his signature song, “I Left My Heart In San Francisco,” a short but inspired speech from relief pitcher Sergio Romo may have summed up much of the crowd’s emotions and feelings about the achievement.

“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.”

Elsewhere: SLIDESHOW: San Francisco Giants World Series Parade is deja vu all over again [Ex]
World Series: After Too Damn Much Ado, Giants Crowned Kings [Weekly]
SLIDESHOW: Fans bask in Giants World Series glory [Ex]
Huge turnout for Giants parade up Market [Chron]
San Francisco goes orange, black for Giants parade [AP via Chron]
Sergio Romo not afraid to speak his mind [Chron]
City by the Bay Painted Black and Orange to Honor Giants [NYT]
Victory was in the air [Chron]
Giants Parade and Rally: San Francisco A City That Knows How [BeyondChron]
2012 SF Giants Celebration [SFGovTV]
San Francisco Celebrates a Giant World Championship (Watch the Entire Parade Online) [KRON4]
San Francisco goes orange and black for Giants [ABC7]
Giants’ second time around is even better [Chron]

Text: Sean McCourt, Bay City News
Photos: Chris Roberts, SF Appeal

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