11/06/09 4:35 PM EST
More than one million turn out to fete champs
Fans storm New York to celebrate Yanks' 27th championship
By Brittany Ghiroli / Special to MLB.com
As one train conductor aptly put it, this was no ordinary Friday morning.
"What time is it?" Stamford, Conn., resident John Locke yelled to the hundreds anxiously awaiting to board the No. 4 Metro line downtown. "It's time for a Yankees parade!"
Hours before it actually was time for the Yankees' World Series-winning ticker-tape celebration, which kicked off at 11 a.m. ET, the party was already in full swing around New York. Subway attendants, sporting Yankees caps and jackets, opened the gates and let customers ride free, while fans handed out New York signs and newspaper pullout posters to everyone walking on the confetti-laden streets.
"It's beautiful. It's a beautiful feeling around here," said New Jersey native Ivan Piedro, who camped out at 3:30 a.m. to earn a front-row seat to the parade, which ran down Broadway Avenue. With a Yankees blue wig on his head and a camera draped around his neck, Piedro was joined by his two daughters, wife and extended family in a moment he will remember the rest of his life.
"We got all our fans with us," Piedro said, gesturing to the crowds stacked behind him hundreds of rows deep and miles long. "We're loving it."
Love was a familiar feeling around the Manhattan streets, as approximately 1.5 million people lined the sidewalks clamoring to get a glimpse of their beloved 27-time World Series champions riding on custom-made floats. Fans stood on trucks and sat on shoulders, some hanging out of nearby apartment windows, and others taking advantage of the views afforded them by their profession. Construction workers peered over taller buildings, while security personnel whipped out their camera phones from the other side of the police barricades. One city official estimated the total number in attendance was upwards of 2.5 million.
"The energy and everything is beautiful. This [parade] really brings New York together," Bronx native Steve Estella said.
Wearing a brand-new World Series cap, Estella waited by his spot on the corner of Ann Street and Broadway for four hours before the first truck, carrying Hal and Hank Steinbrenner, rode along with the scrolling message along its hood: "Congratulations to the Steinbrenner Family."
Estella, who also attended the Yankees parade in 1996, said Friday's crowd was even better than he expected, a statement that prompted those nearby to engage in a series of "world champs" chants.
As Yankees players rode by, several on each blue and white parade float, fans erupted in cheers; giddy to catch a wave from Johnny Damon or a smile from Nick Swisher, as the duo sailed by in Delta-sponsored digs.
"Land of the Free, Home of the Yankees," read one banner, flying proudly alongside the streams of dangling confetti. "Yankees, Forever Champions" said another.
One of the most original signs came from Long Island's A.J. Fragola, who proudly held up a white poster with the message: "It's my birthday, thanks for the greatest present ever."
"This is something I'll remember for the rest of my life," Fragola said of the significance now permanently attached to his 24th birthday. "It's unbelievable. I couldn't ask for anything more."
As various bands marched among the floats, including the NYPD Marching Band and several area high schools music programs, crowds stayed warm by squeezing together and talking about -- what else -- but their beloved Yankees.
"When they won [in Game 6 with a 7-3 victory over the Phillies], I took a bottle of champagne, went out on my front yard -- I'm surrounded by Red Sox fans -- and I screamed at the top of my lungs and squirted the bottle all over the place," said season-ticket holder Bettey Conlon.
The Westfield, Conn., resident traveled by train into the city just for the parade and was thrilled to add several more memories to an already special season.
One by one, Yankees past and present players, front office, coaching staff and broadcast team rode on by, traveling from Battery Place to Chambers Street, with banners reading "Pride of New York" and "World Series Champions."
Friday's parade culminated in front of City Hall, where crowds watched each player introduced by Yankees announcers John Sterling and Michael Kay.
"I've been a Yankees fan since I was 4 [years old] and I've never been to a parade," said 55-year-old Karen McAdams. "It was just one of those things I had to do. My kids came in '98, [and] my son even skipped school. So this was on my bucket list. As soon as they won, I told my boss, 'I'm not coming in [Friday].'"
Judging by the humongous crowds, McAdams wasn't the only one to play hooky for a chance to witness history at the Yankees' ninth ticker-tape parade.
"It's been a long time waiting, and I wasn't going to miss this," Queens native Greg Nerillo said. "It's been nine years [in between titles], but now we're back. And we'll be back here next year."
Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.