NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of New York Yankee fans cheered their baseball team on Friday at a parade through Lower Manhattan to celebrate its 27th World Series victory.
Ticker-tape and toilet paper, the traditional way to bestow honor in New York, was thrown from office windows as the players paraded on floats along Broadway’s Canyon of Heroes to City Hall, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave them the keys to the city and rapper Jay-Z sang his hit “Empire State of Mind.”
After a championship draught that seemed like an eternity for some fans — the Yankees last won a World Series title in 2000 — the team topped the defending world champion Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday to win the best-of-seven series four games to two.
“We really forgot how great it feels,” Yankees captain and shortstop Derek Jeter, who was on the 2000 club, told the crowd. “This year it’s for the fans.”
The World Series victory was an apt way for the Yanks, long known as the Bronx Bombers for their slugging, to christen their new $1.5 billion stadium in the New York borough of the Bronx.
The win gave fans a respite as the U.S. economy struggles to shake off the its worst recession in decades and unemployment reached a 26-1/2 year high in October of 10.2 percent.
“We get to come here and enjoy this and not worry about (the economy) for a little bit of time,” said Donna Grofsick, 44, from Hawthorne, New Jersey, holding a sign that read “Marry Me Derek, it’s OK with my husband.”
Some fans waited more than eight hours to catch a glimpse of their favorite players such as Alex Rodriguez and Series Most Valuable Player Hideki Matsui. Many were dressed head to toe in Yankees merchandise to signal their support.
“We got here at 2 in the morning,” said unemployed student Kevin Cecchini, 23, of Hillsborough, New Jersey. “It’s a great day, everyone has a smile on their faces. People are forgetting about their problems and enjoying the day.”
Jeannine Ready, 53, of Nanaimo, Canada, arrived in New York on Thursday after a cruise, where she followed the Series on board ship. “This is big,” she said. “My husband has been a fan since he was five years old and he’s now 65.”
New York was also celebrating an economic windfall. A spokesman for Comptroller Bill Thompson estimated the three Series games played in the Bronx were worth an estimated $60 million to the city.
Most of that value, he said, came from about 9,000 out-of-town visitors who attended the games.
Bloomberg said that presenting the keys to New York to the Yankees was an honor. “It is our way of saying to some very special people no matter where you go in life this city will always welcome you back with open arms,” he said.
Editing by Philip Barbara