Phillies fans overwhelm SEPTA

October 31, 2008 9:58:07 PM PDT
Thousands of Phillies fans lined up 10 deep along downtown sidewalks and overwhelmed commuter trains continued to haul thousands more toward Philadelphia as excitement built Friday for the city's first championship parade in 25 years.

The World Series-winning Philadelphia Phillies were expected to be showered with brotherly love and confetti during the 90-minute procession from the heart of the city to the sports complex in South Philadelphia, about four miles away.

Toward the end of the parade route, 29-year-old Brian Campbell was with a group that had staked out their spots with lawn chairs at 6 a.m.

"We knew it was going to be packed by noon," Campbell said. "We've got no problem waiting seven hours for five minutes of the parade to go by."

His brother Kyle, 26, took a day off from work to join the fun.

"I told my boss he could fire me, but I can't miss this," Kyle Campbell said.

There, the team will be greeted by another hundred thousand fans watching the festivities on big screens at the city's baseball and football stadiums.

Team officials said Phillies players will attend a rally at Citizens Bank Park and make a brief appearance at Lincoln Financial Field, where the Eagles play.

Mayor Michael Nutter cautioned fans against the scattered vandalism that marred the revelry after the Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays for the title late Wednesday. Police reported 76 arrests and several vandalized businesses; they are also examining photos and video of the crowds to identify and arrest additional offenders.

"You can be joyous; you cannot be a jackass," Nutter said. "That kind of idiotic, destructive behavior will not be accepted in the city of Philadelphia."

Officials had earlier stressed the importance of using public transit, but the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority reported Friday morning that its suburban trains were full by midmorning.

"We are being overwhelmed," said SEPTA spokesman Felipe Suarez. "We are having to bypass stations."

PATCO train stations in southern New Jersey were also jammed early Friday morning, forcing fans to stand in long lines to buy tickets.

The last time a Philadelphia team won a major championship was in 1983, when the 76ers won the NBA title. The Phillies won their only other World Series in 1980.

For that reason, Pat Hall, 43, had no problem letting his sixth-grade son miss school Friday. They had a prime position along the sidewalk about a block from the start of the parade route.

"This is more than just seeing a parade," Hall said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime event."

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Associated Press writer Randy Pennell contributed to this story.


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