Thousands Line Route as Celtics Celebrate Championship With Parade in Boston

Boston Celtics captain Paul Pierce lifted the trophy over his head and pumped vigorously, egging on the thousands of fans who lined the streets to chant even louder: "MVP! MVP!"

"We're tired of watching these parades on TV. Now we get to enjoy our own," Pierce said Thursday as the Boston Celtics rolled through the city in celebration of their first NBA Championship in 22 years.

"I haven't had any sleep yet, so now I'm still enjoying it," Pierce said.

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A sea of fans in green crowded 20-deep or more from the TD Banknorth Garden to Copley Plaza to pay tribute to the team, who rolled slowly through town on 16 World War II-era amphibious vehicles.

Players took their own photographs and videos of the parade, as confetti blasted into the air rained down over the crowd, as it had Tuesday night when the Celtics secured their 17th championship with a Game 6 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Michael Shaughnessy, of Boston, took off work to bring his 4-year-old grandson Gavin Carter to the parade. He said he was proud of how the Celtics played in their championship run — not just that they won.

"They're unselfish and willing to sacrifice and as a result, they won," Shaughnessy said. "This is a special team. It's a special group. They came together."

Gavin said he was most excited to see Kevin Garnett, his favorite player.

"I like that he gets all the shots and he dunks," Gavin said, tugging at his own miniature No. 5 jersey.

Garnett was having just as much fun as his little fan.

"I'm having a great time, as you can see," Garnett said, stopping to point to his broad, toothy grin.

The rally was similar to five others staged since 2002 — two for Boston Red Sox World Series victories and three Super Bowl championships for the New England Patriots.

All along the route, fans held signs declaring "Sweet 17" and "Have a Cigar," a reference to the late patriarch Red Auerbach, who had a hand in the franchise's first 16 titles.

Nick D'Ambrosia, a pennant vendor from Hamden, Conn., said when the team won Game 3 in Los Angeles, he bought a championship batch of $7 pennants to hopefully sell at a Boston victory parade.

"It's better when they haven't won in a long time. Everyone loves a new winner," D'Ambrosia said of the 22-year gap between titles.

President Bush called team owners Wyc and Irv Grousbeck to offer congratulations. Wyc Grousbeck says Bush told him he really enjoyed the game and that the Celtics made Boston proud.

Before the parade, the Grousbecks showed off a 2008 championship banner similar to the 16 others already hanging from the Garden's rafters. Coach Doc Rivers made the new banners for the owners and players.

Irv Grousbeck says it is "the first of several, we hope."

Chris Bonadies, 18, and friend Steve Cain, 20, painted their bodies green to honor the team.

"We figured it would be a once in a lifetime thing," Bonadies said.

Not everyone who turned out for the rally was a diehard basketball fan.

"I'm really a baseball person," said Sue O'Brien, a 73-year-old retiree from Malden who said she thought attending the parade would be a great way to spend the day. She recalled watching a parade 22 years ago, led by Larry Bird.

With recent championships in football, baseball, and basketball, O'Brien echoed the sentiments of many Boston fans who are enjoying being the city of winners.

"Now we're waiting for the Bruins," O'Brien said.