SAN FRANCISCO -- Thousands of baseball fans flocked to downtown Wednesday to toast the San Francisco Giants' World Series championship and see their hometown heroes take a victory lap in a ticker-tape parade reminiscent of the one held when the team moved west from New York 52 years ago.
"This is Christmas, New Year's and your first-born all rolled into one," said Steve Williams, 51, an usher at AT&T Park as he gathered with Giants employees at the start of the parade in the financial district. "I'm on cloud nine."
Fans crowded the sidewalks and flooded the Civic Center before the parade's start at 11 a.m., with the diehards showing up before dawn to stake out spots ahead of the festivity. Many skipped work and pulled their children out of school so they could catch what they said was a once-in-a-lifetime celebration.
"I want to see all the hometown heroes and share the smiles of all the fans who've been waiting their entire lives for this," said Teddy Hutcherson, 31, who found a prime viewing spot behind a barricade.
Under a sunny sky, street lamps were festooned with orange and black balloons - the team's colors. Large banners proclaimed the Giants as this year's World Series champions, as if the crowd needed to be reminded the team had won baseball's highest honor.
Mayor Gavin Newsom was giddy as he described growing up a "fanatical Giants fan" and dreaming about playing for the team one day.
"I thought I'd see (a World Series championship) in my lifetime, but never thought I'd see it as mayor," Newsom said. "It's incomprehensible that this happened."
He even swept aside talk of politics when asked about his victory in the state's lieutenant governor's race on Tuesday.
"Nobody here cares about that, this puts it all in perspective," he said.
Civic dignitaries and the team were riding in a line of open-topped vehicles driven along Montgomery Street in the Financial District, then down Market Street to the Civic Center for a celebration and presentation of a key to the city by Newsom.
Thousands of raucous fans had gathered at the same spot beneath City Hall's orange-lit dome on Monday night to watch an outdoor big screen television that captured the team's Game 5 win over the Texas Rangers. The Giants finally achieved World Series domination that eluded the team in 1962, 1989 and 2002.