Parades, rallies planned Tuesday
DANIA BEACH, Fla. -- Thousands of fans turned out to welcome the World Series champion Florida Marlins home Sunday afternoon, chanting and shouting until every player, coach and team official passed by for a quick wave, handshake or picture.
"It's got to be uplifting for the community," manager Jack McKeon said after he stepped off the plane. "This is a great story, maybe the story of the century."
Rookie pitcher Dontrelle Willis, a fan favorite, enjoyed the show of support.
"You can't get enough of this," he said. "You see this and you just want to keep playing hard for these people."
Across the region, fans spent Sunday the same way they spent the moments following the Marlins' 2-0 title-clinching win over the New York Yankees on Saturday night -- celebrating. Newly printed World Series merchandise was selling as quickly as it could be delivered, and drivers took to the streets with Marlins flags attached to their cars. Some fans admitted they were planning to call in sick on Tuesday, when the team will be feted with parades and rallies in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
"Our fans have been incredible," said team owner Jeffrey Loria, the first to step off the plane. "They've been behind us the whole way and they deserve this."
Loria said he wished he could have been home for the long celebration which didn't stop until the wee hours of Sunday morning.
An estimated 50,000, including some children well past their bedtime, partied in the streets. Elderly women stood in front of their homes wearing robes and slippers. Some fans even cried.
Police officials said Sunday the only problems related to the impromptu celebrations were traffic-related issues. Officers patrolling the area of the street celebration did not report any arrests.
"In other cities I've seen people go tearing up the streets, but in South Florida that's not our style," Miami police spokesman Delrish Moss said.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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