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Baltimore Salutes Their Ravens

Ray Lewis danced on stage with the Super Bowl trophy on a cold and rainy day that was simply beautiful for Baltimore Ravens fans.

Lewis and the rest of team were feted in a victory parade Tuesday that ended in front of City Hall. Mayor Martin O'Malley then called the players onto the stage one by one.

Ray Lewis, the heart of the team's record-setting defense and MVP in the 34-7 Super Bowl victory over the New York Giants, was the first to come on the stage.

The linebacker then broke into his sliding, side-to-side dance that he does before each game.

Just a year ago, Lewis was implicated in a double murder after the Super Bowl in Atlanta. Murder charges against him were dropped and he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.

By the time the parade reached War Memorial Plaza in front of City Hall, thousands had packed the square, craning for a view of the stage.

Crowds began gathering as early as 8:30 a.m. An hour later more than 1,000 had gathered in front of City Hall.

Police had estimated more than 100,000 would line downtown streets for the Super Bowl champs, but that estimate was made before the morning rain.

"We're going to see a lot of umbrellas, but we're not going to let that dampen our enthusiasm for our Super Bowl Ravens," O'Malley said.

The Marching Ravens band started the parade, along with the team's three mascots, Edgar, Allan and Poe named for the 19th century writer of the macabre poem from which the team derived its name.

A little further behind, team president David Modell held the Vince Lombardi trophy as he walked. His father, owner Art Modell, rode in a limousine; the players rode in 30 military vehicles.

"I told my husband this morning, it's raining too much, the weather's not good, stay home, but I'm going," said Mary Arthes, 57, of Ocean Pines on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Six fans waiting for the team at War Memorial Plaza got onto the balcony of a nearby building and held signs spelling the team's name, prompting the crowd to chant "R-A-V-E-N-S."

The Ravens returned home Monday, 156 years to the day after Poe's poem "The Raven" was first published in the New York Evening Mirror. Poe lived briefly in Baltimore and is buried in the city.

Joan Duppins, 65, of Baltimore, was at City Hall with her grandson, Graham, carrying a homemade sign reading, "God bless you Ravens."

"The best thing about this is the love you feel all through the city. This has brought all of Baltimore together," Duppins said. "No matter who you are, when you see the Ravens flag flying, you honk your horn and wave, you just feel the love."

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