As many as 1 million fans packed downtown Boston on Saturday to celebrate the Bruins' first Stanley Cup in 39 years.

A fleet of 18 Boston's iconic "Duck Boats" carrying the Bruins – and the Cup – began winding its way from the TD Garden toward Copley Square, a journey of about two miles, after a rally at the Bruins' home arena.

"We played together, we drank together, we lost together, and we never wavered. But the one thing we really did together: we won. One more thing. Thanks for the patience for the last 39 years. The next one will come a lot quicker," forward Mark Recchi told a frenzied crowd at a rally at TD Garden before the parade began.

The lead boat included Conn Smythe Trophy-winning goaltender Tim Thomas, captain Zdeno Chara – and the Cup. The "rolling rally" weaved its way through streets packed with fans, some of whom reportedly were staking out positions as early as 5 a.m.

NESN reported that Boston police said the crowd is the biggest ever at a championship celebration in the city, which has seen multiple parades in recent years -- the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics have each won two championships since 2002. Boston police reportedly were expecting about 1 million people for the celebration.

"You want to talk about a team? This is a team," team president Cam Neely told the crowd at the pre-parade rally. "We can't thank you, the fans, enough."

Giant monitors were set up on Boston Common and on the Square to let fans watch the entire parade.

The Red Sox even moved their game Saturday from the afternoon to the evening to enable fans to attend the Bruins' celebration – and to avoid what could have been a traffic mess of historic proportions.

It's been a whirlwind few days for the Bruins since their 4-0 victory in Vancouver on Wednesday brought the Cup back to Boston for the first time since the Bobby Orr-led Bruins beat the New York Rangers in six games in 1972.

On Thursday, team members took the trophy on an impromptu tour from the TD Garden arena through Boston's historic North End and to other city hot spots. Chara was photographed holding the trophy aloft on the roof of his condominium. The Cup also went to lunch at a waterfront restaurant and spent time at other bars and restaurants into the early hours of Friday morning.

Chara, Thomas and the Cup made an early-morning trip to New York on Friday for an appearance on NBC's "Today Show," as well as a trip to the NHL Store Powered by Reebok.