Horns blared, confetti flew through the air, and throngs of jubilant and grateful Red Sox fans screamed and waved along the route today as the team’s World Series victory parade rolled through the streets.
The Olde Towne Team, whose improbable championship run lifted the spirits of a region rattled by the Boston Marathon bombings, boarded a caravan of amphibious duck boats for a 3.8-mile ride through city streets that ended with a splash — with the boats taking a victory lap in the Charles River.
The “rolling rally” of 25 duck boats began at the team’s storied Fenway Park and passed such landmarks as Boston Common and City Hall. It also stopped at a more somber site — the place near the Marathon finish line where twin terror bombs went off on April 15, killing three people and injuring more than 260.
Players Jonny Gomes and Jarrod Saltalamacchia placed the World Series trophy on the finish line, which is still painted on Boylston Street. They also presented “Boston Strong” jerseys with the number 617 on it, the city’s area code, to several people, including the general manager of the Forum restaurant, which was hit hard by one of the blasts. The song “God Bless America” wafted through the air.
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia and slugger David Ortiz, the Series MVP known for his defiant words in the uncertain days after the bombings — “This is our [expletive] city” — also got off their duck boats to pay their respects at the finish line.
The weather smiled on the parade, with sunny skies and temperatures reaching into the mid-60s. The crowds were cheerful. By parade’s end, police reported that no arrests had been made. Four of the city’s major hospitals reported no serious injuries.
Police Superintendent in Chief Daniel Linskey tweeted by midafternoon. “We didn’t have a single incident during the parade,” calling the city and fans “amazing.”
“Boston Strong. Thank You,” he concluded.
Police said they would not estimate the crowd size. MBTA officials estimated that the number of rides taken on the public transit system was at least as high as an average weekday, when more than 1.3 million rides are taken. But it wasn’t clear how many people rode into the city because riders can take multiple rides.
Maggie Magner, who lives in the neighborhood in nearby Watertown that was locked down during the frantic search for the Marathon bombers several days after the bombings, was waiting for the parade to arrive in downtown Boston with a friend, Amy Aubertine.
Magner said the team had “kept the city connected. Now we get a chance to thank them. That’s what the parade is for us.”
Aubertine, 44, a New Hampshire resident, was among many fans who said the championship felt almost preordained. “It just had to be,” she said.
The Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday for their third World Series victory in 10 seasons. The Sox went from being one of the worst teams in baseball in 2012 to the best team this year.
As the duck boats, many of them decorated with beards in honor of the Biblical-looking lucky beards the players grew, arrived on City Hall Plaza, chants of “Let’s go, Red Sox!” broke out. Parents hoisted youngsters on their shoulders, and just about everyone pulled out a cellphone to take pictures.
“It was so worth coming in for,” said Liz Perkins, 29, of Seabrook, N.H. Her husband, Dennis, 34, attended the team’s two other championship parades, in 2004 and 2007. But this was a first for their children, daughter Makenna, 7, whose long blonde hair was streaked with Red Sox red, and son, Kason, 4, who wore a shirt with second baseman Dustin Pedroia’s name on it.
“There is nothing better than to be Boston Strong,” Liz said. “We said it all season.”
Earlier, as the caravan emerged from Fenway Park, people yelled out “Thank you!” and “I love you!” as vuvuzela horns brayed, and red, white, and blue confetti tumbled through the air.
When one of the lead duck boats passed, carrying manager John Farrell, the crowd started chanting, “Farrell, Farrell!” When Pedroia came around, the crowd yelled his last name. When Ortiz came by, the crowd began chanting “MVP! MVP!” The crowd screamed that reliever Koji Uehara was a hero when they saw him.
At a pre-parade ceremony inside the park, Governor Deval Patrick, speaking about the team’s impact on the city, said, “To see the team come from where it came last season to where we are right now, to see this whole city come from where we were to where we are right now is incredibly affirming.”
He called the team’s success a “tremendous source of pride and excitement. It’s great for the city and it’s great for all of us.”
Asked to address Marathon bombing survivors who had been invited to the park for the ceremony, Patrick said, “Thank you for your strength.”
Pedroia told the cheering crowd, “We played for the whole city, what the city went through. Hopefully, we put a smile on ... everybody’s face. It was special. We wanted to do this and make it right for everybody.”
In April, Ortiz told a Fenway Park crowd looking to escape thoughts of the bombings and recapture normalcy, “This is our [expletive] city, and nobody is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong.”
Today he said at the ceremony, “Boston, man. It means we stay together, a family. We fight against the world. You guys start it, we finish it.”
On the Esplanade, the riverside park where fans gathered to watch the team cruise by on the final, watery leg of the parade route, David Drady III, 31, of Boston wasn’t happy with the view, saying the boats were staying too far offshore to get a good view.
“I’m just going to go to Google Images tomorrow and find something far better,” he said.
But he could find no fault with the team. “Honestly, [it was] just a magical season after what happened with the Marathon. You could tell they weren’t just playing for the World Series, they were playing for our city,” he said.
Nearby, Patrick Garvey, 27, said, “Everything has been such a surprise — going from worst to first. To have such a perfect day, it’s a nice exclamation point. It doesn’t sink in until you see the trophy.”
Police said that, in some cases, they had to clear people from trees, where they had sought better views, and some people threw beer, but other than that no security problems were reported.
State transportation officials had urged people to take public transit into the city, where numerous street closures and parking restrictions were in place. Officials urged people, especially those planning to take commuter rail, to get a spot on an early train — or risk getting left behind.
MBTA Superintendent in Chief Joseph O’Connor said the transit system was seeing heavy ridership. Officers were stationed at strategic points throughout the system along with explosives-sniffing dogs, he said.
The Sox were never expected to get so far after late-season dysfunction and collapse in 2011 and a 2012 season that left them in last place in the American League East.
Marty Costello of Saugus, a season ticketholders who was invited to the pre-parade rally inside Fenway Park, helda sign saying, “Hey, I don’t know what to say except Wow and Thanks.”
“I just don’t believe what’s happened. This was unbelievable. I was hoping we could maybe compete at .500 and give it a good fight, but to do what they did is almost surreal,” he said.