BOSTON (Reuters) - Falling snow gave way to clouds of confetti as hundreds of thousands of New England Patriots fans decked out in team jerseys and knit caps packed Boston streets for a parade to celebrate their team’s fifth Super Bowl victory.
Stars including quarterback Tom Brady and wide receiver Julian Edelman tossed footballs to the crowd from a cavalcade of flatbed trucks and amphibious vehicles known as duck boats. Team owner Robert Kraft hoisted one of several silver Vince Lombardi trophies held by team members.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh welcomed the players to the front of City Hall, where fans could be spotted wearing goat masks - a reference to the acronym GOAT - or greatest of all time.
“You all know we have the GOAT when it comes to players in Tom Brady,” Kraft told the crowd at the parade’s end. “We have the GOAT when it comes to coaches in Bill Belichick. We have the GOAT of fans on the planet.”
Security was high for the parade with sand-filled dump trucks blocking key intersections off the route to prohibit a vehicle-mounted attack. Boston has ratcheted up security at public events since the deadly 2013 bombing attack on the Boston Marathon.
Chants of “Brady, Brady” echoed through the streets as fans celebrated the 39-year-old quarterback’s fifth career Super Bowl ring. This one capped a season in which Brady had to sit out the first four games as a league-imposed punishment for using under-inflated footballs during the 2015 playoffs, a scandal nicknamed “Deflategate.”
The Patriots had trailed the Atlanta Falcons in Sunday’s Super Bowl by as many as 25 points before Brady rallied them to a 34-28 overtime victory.
“That game was hard but we are going to remember that one for the rest of our lives,” Brady told the crowd.
The city has seen 10 “duck boat” parades in the past 16 years as Boston’s four major sports franchises collected a string of 10 championships.
“I’ve been to 10 of these in my lifetime,” said Bill Nugent, 23. “As I get older, it gets better.”
Peter Field, 60, and his two adult daughters left the comfort of their hotel room overlooking the route and headed out into a day that saw snow turn to icy rain to join the crowd.
“This is the place to be,” said Field, of Hampstead, New Hampshire. “I have to be part of it.”
Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Peter Cooney and Bill Trott