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.
The crowd started chanting as the team's plane began its
descent, and cheers nearly drowned out the noise of the jet's
"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
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
"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.