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The party rolls on

Red Sox parade set for tomorrow; city braces for throngs

By Andrea Estes and Heather Allen
Globe Staff And Globe Correspondent / October 29, 2004

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As many as 3.6 million people are expected to flood the city tomorrow morning to celebrate the Red Sox' World Series victory with a confetti-filled parade that could break Boston crowd records.

The "rolling rally" will stretch for about 3 miles, from the Fenway to Boston City Hall, and feature current and former Sox players in a caravan of duck boats, equipped with a public address system so they can greet fans along the way. At the head of the procession will be a boatload of Sox legends, including Johnny Pesky, Jim Rice, Rico Petrocelli, and Jim Lonborg, among others, city officials said. Special machines will shoot confetti from the duck boats.

The parade will begin at 10 a.m. and is expected to wrap up by 1:30. The National Weather Service reported there is a chance of showers early in the morning in the greater Boston area, and rain is likely for late morning and early afternoon. Temperatures will reach the lower 60s.

City officials and the Red Sox had considered a parade today along a route that would start in Brighton and stretch for 7 or 8 miles. But yesterday the city scaled back the plan and chose to hold the parade tomorrow, when school is out and the traffic will be lighter. In hopes of avoiding a huge crowd in one location, there will be no stops along the parade route and no rally at City Hall Plaza. "We saw what happened last [time], the large crowds and safety issues," said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "We want to make sure we don't have any problems."

City and Red Sox officials announced the plans yesterday at a City Hall news conference, where the World Series trophy took center stage.

"Rooting for the Red Sox, this is in our blood," an exuberant Menino said. "This is a historic occasion that goes to the heart of what it means to be a Bostonian."

Menino predicted the crowd will approach 3.6 million. That would be three times the 1.2 million spectators at the parade after the Patriots' first Super Bowl victory in 2002, and more than the 1.5 million at this year's post-Super Bowl parade. However, neither Boston police superintendent Robert Dunford nor the Red Sox would venture a guess at the crowd size.

"We are all in uncharted territory here," said Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino. "But we do know that we will give our fans a chance to salute our players and will give our players a chance to salute our fans. We see this great rolling rally as a two-way street, and we intend to say thank you loudly and clearly and passionately to our fans."

Like February's Super Bowl parade, tomorrow's event is taking place after the death of a fan in postgame revelry. Under fire for the death of Victoria Snelgrove, an Emerson College student killed by a pepper pellet after the Red Sox clinched the pennant last week, police are planning a massive presence at the parade.

Dunford said Boston police will be relying on help from the State Police and other state agencies, as well as police departments from surrounding towns, utilizing connections established during the Democratic National Convention this summer.

He would not say how many officers would be deployed to control the expected crowds.

Last night, city officials said they were soliciting contributions for the event from "private sponsors," whom they would not identify. The price tag for last February's Super Bowl celebration was $465,000, with corporate sponsors picking up 56 percent of the cost.

Before the parade, the public is invited to an early celebration today at the State House. Governor Mitt Romney and World Series MVP Manny Ramirez will unveil a Red Sox banner around noon, said Shawn Feddeman, spokeswoman for the governor. The event will also include a performance by the Dropkick Murphys.

But the big event will come tomorrow, and MBTA officials yesterday said that if the city's crowd predictions are accurate, tomorrow could be the busiest day in the history of the MBTA.

Extra bus, subway, and commuter rail service will be added, officials said. Police may also have to temporarily close some Green Line stations -- from Government Center to Hynes/ICA -- because of overcrowding on platforms or entrances. Most service is scheduled to run on a near-rush-hour schedule.

"We'll be asking for patience and understanding as the transit systems experiences what may be its busiest day ever," said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo.

Boston school officials, who had expressed concerns about earlier plans to schedule the parade for today, said they were pleased students can now celebrate without missing school.

"We're very relieved that students will have the opportunity to attend the parade and celebrate with the rest of the city," said Jonathan Palumbo, spokesman for the Boston schools. "We had a couple concerns about students and teachers not showing up on Friday, and we had concerns about getting our students in and out of the city. A parade on Friday might have presented transportation issues."

A parade route considered earlier this week would have taken the players from Brighton, along Commonwealth Avenue into the city, bypassing Fenway Park. But Red Sox owners wanted fans to get as close as possible to the historic ballpark. The parade will now begin at Boylston Street and Kilmarnock, two blocks from the beloved ballpark.

"It's a great backdrop for the long-suffering baseball fans," said Menino, wearing a black Red Sox championship cap.

Red Sox owners considered opening Fenway Park for the event, but decided against it.

"It was not feasible," said team spokesman Charles Steinberg. "The legal occupancy is 36,298. How would you choose the 36,298?" City officials said Fenway Park will be off limits during the parade.

Having the parade start close to Fenway, Steinberg said, was the next best thing.

However, the predicted turnout had one crowd-control expert worried last night.

Farouk El-Baz, who heads Boston University's Center for Remote Sensing, said that in setting up their barricades Boston police will have to take care to leave enough room for the nearly 4 million people who may show up for the event. El-Baz said a crowd of that size could not fit on the sidewalks along the 3-mile route, so police must create a narrow corridor for the Duck Boats and allow spectators to spill into the street on either side of the vehicles.

He also suggested that police allow large numbers of people to congregate in intersections, where there is more room.

"If they put the barriers right at Boylston, there would be a real problem," said El-Baz, whose center works on satellite imaging.

Brookline administrator Richard Kelliher said his town was bracing for throngs of fans when Menino's office was weighing a parade route beginning in Brighton. Now, he said, the impact will "be considerably less than it might have been." Nevertheless, Kelliher said Brookline will be deploying extra police officers and public works employees in the lower Beacon Street area near the parade route, and is prepared to help Boston if a request is made.

Nearby Newton would have liked to have been on the parade route, according to Jeremy Solomon, a spokesman for David Cohen, mayor of Newton, and the city suggested the idea to Menino's office. But Solomon said Newtonians aren't disappointed.

"I think there is very little to be disappointed about with the Red Sox this year," Solomon said. "We would be honored, but we certainly understand the city of Boston's priority, which is to have a safe and successful parade."

Scott S. Greenberger, Mac Daniel, and Megan Tench of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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