CHICAGO – The party is in full swing in Chicago.
Two days after the White Sox swept Houston for their first World Series (search) title since 1917, the team hit the streets Friday for a ticker-tape parade and rally.
Double-decker buses filled with players, coaches, their families left from U.S. Cellular Field (search) as hundreds of fans cheered.
The procession rolled through the neighborhoods of Bridgeport, Bronzeville, Chinatown, Pilsen, Little Italy and Greektown, with scores of fans lining the streets, waving flags and banners. When they arrived at the Loop for a parade and victory, the air was filled with bits of newspaper, shot into the air from confetti cannons.
The fans, who waited for hours and were streaming into downtown even as the players were appearing on the "Oprah Winfrey Show (search)" early Friday, roared when they spotted the buses carrying the players. Tens of thousands of fans, sporting black, white and silver White Sox hats, jerseys and jackets, packed the downtown area. Many waved team flags, black and white balloons, white socks, their faces painted black and white. Above them, office workers looked on from high rises, some pressing White Sox (search) signs to the panes of glass.
Andy Wilson, like many of the tens of thousands who turned downtown into a giant block party, was playing hooky from work to take part in a celebration of a championship that he still doesn't quite believe really happened.
Exhausted from staying up late into the night to watch the games on television — something that didn't even exist the last time the White Sox won the World Series — Wilson said it may not be until this winter when the White Sox victory sinks in.
"When I'm at a bar enjoying a beer, saying 'our world champion Chicago White Sox,' that's when it's really going to hit me."
It hadn't quite sunk in for White Sox general manager Kenny Williams (search) either. "It's really kind of overwhelming," he said.
Steve Perry, who co-wrote the song the White Sox took as their theme, "Don't Stop Believin," was also on hand.
"They've always believed," Perry said of the team.
On Thursday, thousands of fans gathered at Midway Airport to welcome the team back from Houston.
As pitcher Mark Buehrle drove by, he stopped, opened his door and thrust his arms triumphantly into the air. Fans mobbed manager Ozzie Guillen's limousine as it slowed down, many chanting: "Ozzie! Ozzie!" Other fans held brooms aloft, symbolizing the sweep that the White Sox completed Wednesday night with a 1-0 victory.
"My heart is pounding," said Dawn Gasior, who greeted the players with her two children. "This is great. We're so grateful to them and they're so grateful to us."