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Players to speak to fans with loudspeakers

10/30/2004 - Boston Red Sox

BOSTON -- Rapturous Red Sox fans wouldn't have blinked if their beloved team had announced they would walk on water during the team's victory parade in Boston. As it turns out, the World Series champions won't need to.

Saturday's parade route was lengthened late Friday, taking the team, riding on amphibious Duck Tour boats, onto the Charles River for a victory lap on the water after rolling through the city.

Officials decided to extended the 3-mile parade route into the river because of overwhelming interest and projections of as many as 5 million people coming to the city to celebrate the team's first championship since 1918.

The Duck Boat vehicles will take a lap of the Charles, allowing onlookers to see the team from the Boston and Cambridge banks of the river.

"We will need to rely on the care, courtesy and caution of our citizens," Gov. Mitt Romney said.

Because so many members of Red Sox Nation are expected in Boston to celebrate the team's World Series triumph, the victory parade won't be making any stops and won't culminate with a staged rally.

"I understand the problem -- where do you stick 5 million people?" fan Dave Henry said, adding that he's "bummed" there will be no central rally.

Whether it's 5 million or half that, authorities won't let fans stuff themselves into City Hall Plaza, where the New England Patriots held rallies after they won the Super Bowl twice in the past three years.

Police commissioner Kathleen O'Toole said the sheer number of expected fans could lead to a disastrous situation.

"Let's face it, you get a crowd that size and it's very unpredictable," O'Toole told The Associated Press in an interview Friday. "One of the reasons we're not having one particular rally location is that we're concerned that it could be a dangerous situation."

The rolling rally featuring Red Sox players and their families in the tour boats begins at 10 a.m. near Fenway Park. Loudspeakers will be attached to the vehicles to allow players to communicate with fans.

"It's going to be a great parade," O'Toole said. "If they're along a long parade route they're going to have a better vantage point than being at a rally that's potentially dangerous where they can't see a thing. I think it's a great thing and I hope tomorrow
is an exciting and safe day for everyone."

Police on Friday posted "no stopping -- special event" signs on parking meters along the route. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority expects Saturday to be its busiest day ever. Logan International Airport on Friday warned travelers to leave early.

A theme of the parade is "We kept the faith, now let's keep the peace," in hopes of preventing rowdiness or violence, like the deadly frenzy that erupted after Boston's Game 7 win over the New York Yankees in the ALCS. Victoria Snelgrove, a 21-year-old
Emerson College student, was killed last week by a pepper-spray pellet fired by police trying to control a crowd of 80,000 rowdy Red Sox revelers.

O'Toole acknowledged there are some unknowns going into the event, which will be staffed with extra police officers from around the region.

"I don't want to discourage people from celebrating, but there are risks associated with being in the vicinity of any crowd," she said. "We're having difficulty gauging the potential size of the crowd."