New York – New York City's Canyon of Heroes was lined with tens of thousands of cheering fans late Friday morning as confetti rained from the sky during a ticker-tape parade for the latest sports champions.
But this time, the fans weren't garbed in the pinstripes of the hometown Yankees. Instead they wore red, white and blue in support of the U.S. women's national soccer team, which handily defeated Japan, 5-2, Sunday in Canada to take home its third Women's World Cup victory, and its first since 1999.
It was the first-ever ticker-tape parade in New York for a women's sports team — a fact not lost on the crowd. A 4th floor window on a building near the route was decorated with a homemade sign that reads "Girl Power" with four American flags.
"This has been a long time coming," Dangela Flores, a soccer fan from the Bronx, told Fox News Latino. "We have to be here. We have to celebrate and support our girls."
The Canyon of Heroes – or heroines, in this case – is a stretch of Broadway in lower Manhattan lined with soaring buildings on both sides. On Friday, workers opened their windows and made it look like a blizzard in the middle of summertime, tossing shredded paper and confetti on the parade route.
On the street, hundreds of American flags waved along the route as spectators cheered and snapped cellphone photos of Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo and the other U.S. stars who rode by on floats. Along with obvious main attraction of the U.S. national team, spectators were treated to bagpipers, a New York Police Department motorcade and a Fire Department truck whose driver chanted "U-S-A" as he drove down Broadway.
The parade was hosted by "Good Morning America" host Robin Roberts and former U.S. defender Heather Mitts.
All 23 players from the national team — none of whom are from New York City, although four hail from New Jersey — were riding on four of the parade's 12 floats. One of the floats carried the World Cup trophy, along with tournament's most valuable player, Carli Lloyd, and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo was on a separate float.
The players could be seen taking selfies and photos of the crowd. As the parade started, goalkeeper Hope Solo tweeted: "We couldn't be more excited be here!" with a photo of herself and five teammates.
For many attending Friday's parade, the event was far more than just a chance to celebrate the U.S. victory, it was also a celebration of the gains that women's sports – particularly soccer – have made in the U.S. and around the globe.
While there has been much made about the U.S. women's team receiving less funding from FIFA than the men's team and the lower turnout to games in Canada than the men's games in Brazil last summer, the spectators in New York – many of them mothers and their young daughters – pointed to the large crowd and the attention the team has gotten since winning as a major step in the right direction.
"I'm very happy to see that women's soccer is getting so much recognition," Luisa Fernandez, a mother from Staten Island who brought her two daughters to the parade, told FNL. "My kids all play, and I feel that there is not so much recognition or excitement at times for the girls' side, even though they work just as hard as the boys do."
The celebration came a few days after the women were welcomed to downtown Los Angeles by a crowd of several thousand cheering fans – some of whom began lining up for the rally before dawn. During the event, U.S. forward Abby Wambach lifted the World Cup trophy while leading the roaring crowd in joyful chants of "I believe that we just won!"
The United States has returned to the top of the FIFA women's rankings after winning the Cup. The American women toppled the former No. 1, Germany, 2-0 in the semifinals, before beating Japan in Vancouver to collect the top prize in women's soccer.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.