Philly fans stream into streets to celebrate title

PHILADELPHIA - October 30, 2008 Fans on foot and in cars streamed through downtown on their way to Broad Street, the city's main thoroughfare, honking horns and cheering through sunroofs and the back of pickups.

Scattered vehicle vandalism was reported as revelry continued into the early morning hours Thursday, with at least two cars overturned and the windows of a TV van smashed.

Early Thursday morning, police began trying to disperse some of the crowds gathered on the streets, in one case using their bicycles as shields to move fans away from one intersection in South Philadelphia. They also moved in to start clearing the stadium parking lots.

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

"I'm 23 years old and never had a chance to see a championship!" he said, still yelling to be heard over the din.

The victory over Tampa Bay ended a 25-year championship drought by the city's four major sports teams.

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 and towels, 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 sweatshirt 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 authorities had made some arrests, but he did not have an exact number.

"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 broke beer bottles, leaving a trail of glass and empty cans along the curbs. One car was turned on its side by City Hall. In a parking lot near the stadium, rowdy fans flipped an SUV onto its roof and smashed out the windows, and a small crosswalk signal was also toppled.

Some "overly rambunctious fans" surrounded a van of a local TV station 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.

Helen DiRienzi, 72, of Drexel Hill, sang along to "We are the Champions" as the Phillies circled the field.

A 25-year season ticket-holder, DiRienzi wished her husband had lived to see the team win another World Series. Wednesday would have been her husband's 73rd birthday.

"I know he's here with me in spirit," she said.


Associated Press Writers Randy Pennell and Bill Bergstrom contributed to this report.

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