Ray Lewis danced on stage with the Super Bowl trophy on a cold and rainy day that was more star-spangled than midday dreary for Baltimore Ravens fans.
Police estimated that 200,000 people turned out Tuesday along the parade route and at City Hall celebrating the National Football League's newest champions.
"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.
By the time the parade reached War Memorial Plaza in front of City Hall, thousands had packed the square, craning for a view.
Mayor Martin O'Malley called the players onto the stage one by one.
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 first up. He 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.
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.
Tuesday's celebration comes 156 years and a day after Poe's poem The Raven was first published, in the New York Evening Mirror.
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.
Among those at City Hall in the city that inspired "The Star-Spangled Banner" was 65-year-old Joan Duppins and her grandson, Graham.
"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."
Lou Frick, 53, of Reisterstown joined more than 1,000 fans who waited at the team's Owings Mills training complex Monday morning to welcome the team convoy home.
Frick said Baltimore still loves and misses its Colts, who last brought home the Vince Lombardi Trophy in 1971. The team's dead-of-night departure from Baltimore in 1984 left a scar on the city's collective psyche, he said.
Tuesday, residents of Balitmore, otherwise known as "Charm City," were moving on.
"Who's not a Ravens fan now?" a local vendor named Steve Kallens asked rhetorically.
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