Confetti rained and the "Hallelujah Chorus" resounded through city streets Saturday as grateful fans embraced the World Series champion Boston Red Sox, hailing the team as heroes during a jubilant parade that even went afloat on the Charles River.
An estimated 3.2 million fans packed the seven-mile parade route in spitting rain and temperatures in the 50s, standing in dense crowds, hanging from windows and cheering from rooftops.
Some held signs bearing words of thanks, marriage proposals and expressions of wonder at the team's achievement after 86 years of dashed hopes since its last championship in 1918.
"All is forgiven," read one banner. "Now we just have to wait for the other six signs of the apocalypse," said another. And dozens said simply, "Thank you."
The parade wound from Fenway Park, past Boston Common and City Hall and onto the Charles River, with Red Sox players riding 17 of the amphibious vehicles known since World War II as ducks.
Businesses along the route rose to the occasion, with one wedding boutique putting a bright red "B" on each dress in its display window. The Loews Theatres at Boston Common used huge letters to change its name to Lowe's, in honor of pitcher Derek Lowe, who won the clinching game in each of the team's three postseason series.
Throughout the parade, music blared from speakers on the lead vehicle, with selections including the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's "Messiah" and "Dirty Water" -- the Boston-themed Standells hit that is played after every home victory at Fenway Park.
Pitcher Pedro Martinez was hit in the forehead by a baseball thrown from the banks of the Charles. He looked stunned and put his hand to his forehead as the ball floated down the river.
"I have a little headache, but I'm okay," Martinez said after the parade.
With people spread throughout the city, organizers had extended the parade route from the streets into the Charles River because of projections that as many as 5 million people would jam into the city.
Police said 15 people were arrested, 12 were taken to hospitals for treatment of minor injuries and 30 were treated on the street.
Meantime, pitcher Curt Schilling likely will have surgery Wednesday on his injured right ankle. Schilling will undergo an MRI exam Monday to check for infection before the surgery is scheduled.
Schilling, who was walking with crutches and a cast Saturday, has a torn tendon sheath in his right ankle.