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Philly Fans Stream Into Streets To Celebrate Title

Staff
Published:   |   Updated: May 18, 2013 at 06:43 PM
PHILADELPHIA -

Tens of thousands of horn-honking, high-fiving Phillies fans streamed into the streets Wednesday night after Philadelphia won the World Series, celebrating the championship by knocking down traffic signals, spraying beer and shooting off fireworks.

Fans raced through downtown on their way to Broad Street, this title-starved city's main thoroughfare, yelling and waving from open sunroofs, windows and jam-packed pickup truck beds.

Scattered vandalism was reported as revelry continued into the early morning Thursday before police began breaking up the thinning crowds.

Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey said officers made 76 arrests, adding 10 businesses were damaged during the raucous citywide celebration.

Windows were smashed at a bank and luggage store in the downtown shopping district. At least two cars were overturned, the windows of a TV van were smashed, dozens of huge streetside planters were flipped over and some bus shelters were damaged or destroyed.

Most of the celebration was trouble-free, though it left behind a trail of broken bottles, overturned garbage bins and piles of other trash on the streets.

"This is the biggest party I've ever seen in my life!" said David Wahl, of Burlington, N.J., dashing down Broad Street and screaming into his cell phone as he described the scene to his father back home in New Jersey.

The victory over Tampa Bay ended a 25-year championship drought by the city's four major sports teams that has dogged Philadelphians since the 76ers won the NBA finals in 1983.

The city will get its long-awaited championship parade on Friday, the mayor announced.

"We did it!" Mayor Michael Nutter said.

Police had Broad Street cordoned off for more than a mile in South Philadelphia, turning the area into a giant street festival. Fans waved flags, towels and shirts, crowd-surfed and climbed on each other's shoulders.

Vince Iezzi, 72, sporting a Phillies jacket, soaked up the excitement as younger revelers jumped up and down, screaming and cheering.

"It's good to have a good feeling again," he said. "Philly needed this."

Theresa Thompson, 47, of South Philadelphia, missed the only other Phillies World Series celebration in 1980 because she was pregnant. She wasn't about to miss this one.

Wearing a Phillies sweat shirt and cap, and with a "P'' painted on her cheek, she got swept up with the rest of the crowd walking down Broad Street.

"I got all geared up, got my signs and came out. This brings tears to my eyes," she said.

Two hours after the victory, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said the situation seemed to be generally under control, despite "a few hooligans," some vandalism and arrests.

"It's OK. It's all right. People are having fun," Ramsey said.

Dozens of officers on bicycles moved a crowd away from one clogged intersection on Broad Street in South Philadelphia, where a traffic signal pole was taken down and fans were setting off firecrackers.

Fans also set small fires and smashed beer bottles. One group set a dumpster on fire and surrounded the noxious-smelling blaze chanting, "Let's go, Phillies, let's go!" In a parking lot near the stadium, rowdy fans flipped an SUV onto its roof and smashed out the windows.

Some "overly rambunctious fans" surrounded a KYW-TV van while a reporter was doing a live shot, breaking its windows and rocking the vehicle, said station spokeswoman Joanne Calabria.

"Luckily the police were nearby and intervened - nobody was hurt, thank God - and escorted the van back to the station," Calabria said.

The frigid, mid-40s temperatures and gusting wind Wednesday night were better suited for an Eagles game. The teams played bundled in layers and fans, too, were bundled up, wearing wool hats instead of baseball caps and heavy coats instead of jerseys.

In the left field stands, Peter Witherell of Wilmington, Del., said the Phillies' second championship was a long time coming.

"It's been 28 years," he said. "It seems like 100."

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