Thousands of Royals fans showed up Thursday to celebrate Kansas City's best season in three decades, one day after the team's magical run came to an end with a Game 7 World Series loss to San Francisco.
Chants of "Let's go Royals" mingled with speeches by local politicians, team officials and players masked the melancholy of the 3-2 loss.
Kansas City public schools were not in session because of parent-teacher conferences, giving children in Royals jerseys a chance to cheer alongside more experienced fans who remembered the last playoff appearance for the team back in 1985.
"We have been watching the whole World Series together as a family," said Mindy Lilyquist, 36, a stay-at-home mom from Kansas City who brought her four children, ranging in age from 3 months to 7 years old. "It's almost like we know the players ... like they have been in our living room every night."
Tim Duncanson, 47, of Toronto, Canada, said he became a Royals fan as a child in 1976 when the team won the AL West but lost in the ALCS to the New York Yankees. Duncanson, who works in the finance industry, brought his son to the first and seventh games of the World Series and returned to Kauffman Stadium for the rally.
Though his heart was broken in 1976, and again in 1980 when the Royals lost to Philadelphia in the World Series, Duncanson said Wednesday's loss didn't cut so deeply.
"It wasn't as severe because they had such a great playoff run," he said. "It was so satisfying. We were one hit away."
Elsewhere, grey and brown hues normally associated with late October replaced the blue Royals playoff shirts and hats sold at local supermarkets and so common around the city over the past four weeks.
Longtime fans like retired Kansas City police Officer Eric Weir took the loss in stride and proclaimed their satisfaction for a postseason performance very few ever saw coming.
"We lost by 90 feet," said Weir, 71, in the cafeteria at supermarket. "That's as close as you get."
Newer fans, like 29-year-old convenience store clerk Katie Snelling, seemed to be more disappointed in the outcome — not so much because of their allegiance to the team, but because they had become addicted to the excitement that had gripped the city.
"I was a bandwagoner, but I feel like it could have been very, very different," Snelling said. "It began and ended with Salvy, but it just wasn't the way we wanted it to be."
Michael Klingler is a Cardinals fan who moved to Kansas City two months ago from St. Louis and got swept up in Royals fever, which he said was more intense than what he has seen in St. Louis during his team's frequent playoff appearances.
"It's definitely been crazier than it would have been in St. Louis," the 22-year-old said over breakfast at a downtown restaurant. "We're kind of used to this. That's not to say there's not excitement (when the Cardinals are in the playoffs), but you can't compare it to something you only get every few decades."