NEW YORK -- Fresh off its World Cup championship, the U.S. women's soccer team got a hero's welcome on Friday with a ticker-tape parade in lower Manhattan mobbed by young girls and other flag-waving fans, followed by a City Hall ceremony where each player was given a key to the city.
"All of this for us started when we were little and we had a dream," star forward Abby Wambach told a crowd of 3,500 at City Hall Plaza. "In my opinion, all the women up on this stage believed in that dream, kept believing in that dream. "
Head coach Jill Ellis called the celebration "mind-blowing." And midfielder Carli Lloyd, named the World Cup's most valuable player after scoring three goals in the final, told the crowd, "Well I'm a Jersey girl ... but New York City, you guys are awesome."
Parade-goers - many wearing red, white and blue - started gathering at 3:30 a.m. along the Canyon of Heroes, a stretch of Broadway where the nation's largest city has honored its legends. When the parade got underway at 11 a.m., the crowd was as much as 10 deep along the route. Chants of "USA! USA!" were distinctly high-pitched.
It was the first-ever ticker-tape parade in New York for a women's sports team - a fact not lost on the crowd. A 4th floor window on a building near the route was decorated with a homemade sign that reads "Girl Power" with four American flags.
"I'm glad to see girls getting a parade," said 9-year-old Christinah Delesine, who wore a blue soccer shirt. "There should be more."
Robert Sanfiz, who brought his three children - Julia, 8, Chris, 7 and Tommy, 2 - had a similar take.
"It's great for her to see women finally be represented," Sanfiz said. "It's great for her self-esteem."
Ireland Giaquinto, 13, held a sign reading, "Thank you for letting me dream."
All 23 players from the team - none of whom are from New York City, though four hail from nearby New Jersey - were riding on four of 12 floats. One of the floats was carrying the World Cup trophy, along Lloyd and Mayor Bill de Blasio. Gov. Andrew Cuomo was on a separate float.
"I think we're gonna look back 10, 20 years from now, and that's when it's fully going to soak in," Lloyd told "CBS This Morning" Friday before the parade. "I think we don't realize how up we are right now, but you know we're etched in history, we just created history, we're part of it. I'm so proud of everyone."
The players could be seen taking selfies and shooting photos of the crowd. As the parade started, goalkeeper Hope Solo tweeted:
The southern end of Broadway is the traditional spot for New York City for the parades where workers in tall officer buildings once tossed ticker tape - strips of paper with stock price information - onto celebrants below. The tape has been replaced by shredded paper.
Even though the women's soccer team is a national team instead of local, the push to honor the players with a parade had been fervent. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer had written to de Blasio, saying it was a good opportunity to showcase female athletes.
"When they brought back that trophy, they also brought back the message of the power of women," de Blasio said at City Hall.
The United States has returned to the top of the FIFA women's rankings after winning the World Cup. The U.S. toppled Germany after beating Japan 5-2 in Sunday's final in Vancouver to collect the top prize in women's soccer for the first time in 16 years.
A few female athletes have been honored in the Canyon of Heroes, CBS News correspondent Anna Werner reported. In 1926, Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel, was greeted by hordes of fans, and in 1960, Olympic figure skating gold medalist Carol Heiss Jenkins was celebrated.
But Friday marks the first time an all-female team received the honor.
A company shredded 1,500 pounds of paper for Friday's celebration, Werner reported.