Baltimore Sun staff
2:41 PM EST, February 5, 2013
Baltimore Sun reporters are stationed along the parade route, from City Hall to M&T Bank Stadium. See their observations, fan interviews and other updates here.
Ray Lewis smiled wide to the crowd and yelled "Baltimore!" as he approached the podium.
"There's no [better] place on this earth than the city of Baltimore," he said before he referenced his long career. "This city believed in each other from Day 1, 1996 to now, we believed in each other, Baltimore."
"I said this is my last ride," he told fans, "and every moment every time I've stepped into this stadium, what I've recieved is pure love."--Justin George
Best team in the world
Ed Reed, once again, with his son on his shoulders sang "Two tickets to paradise" before he spoke to fans. "Baltimore, the best team in the world is right here, right here," he said. "Who said what? Who's got it better than who? Baltimore. Yeah we play football in Baltimore. We're going to continue to play Baltimore. Joe Flacco said we're going to repeat so here we go."
'What's our name?'
John Harbaugh, hands in pockets, walked up to the podium next.
"Thank you for today, thank you for every single day," he told the crowd. "We talk about the team. Look around....This stadium is packed with the team."
He said fans' passion, both in Baltimore and New Orleans, carried the team during the Super Bowl game.
"“We said we were going to carry every single fan in our hearts down to New Orleans," he said.
"You were there with us. Thank you very much for being down with us."
He lauded fans determination to get to the packed stadium, which was at capacity and had been closed by police to thousands of fans who couldn’t get in.
"We played with incredible determination and resolve," Harbaurgh said, "and judging by how hard it was to get to this stadium, I would say that was true by our fans."
"The city's going crazy for the Ravens!" Harbaugh said. "The World Champion Baltimore Ravens!"
He then asked the stadium to chant before the rally concluded.
"What's our name?" he asked.
"Ravens," thousands chanted.
"What's our name?"
"What’s our name?"
Thank you to the fans
Owner Steve Bisciotti thanked the fans for coming out.
"Thank you for waiting as long as you did," he said. "I don't know how many more times we can do this, bringing championships home before Baltimore loses that chip on their shoulder. I hope that never happens."
Joe Flacco, carrying his son in his arms, yelled out to the crowd.
"Baltimore! We did it. Super Bowl Champs baby," he said. "It doesn't get any better than this. We appreciate you coming out. This is awesome."--Justin George
Cheerleaders shot out of the stadium tunnel through smoke waving yellow pom-poms. Flames shot up in the air as the Ravens were introduced beginning with owner Steve Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome and the coaching staff led by head coach John Harbaugh. The Ravens special teams, offense and defense were introduced as a group coming out of the tunnel.
As players came out, U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name" played over the loudspeakers, and many players were holding their cameraphones, videotaping their walk to the middle of the field.
Joe Flacco was introduced individually to "When you wish upon a star." He waved to the crowd.
Ray Lewis came out last, Lombardi Trophy in his right hand, the Nelly song "Hot in Herre" booming. He handed the trophy to someone. One last time, he grabbed a patch of grass and performed his trademark dance to a huge ovation.
Finally, "Seven Nation Army" came on and the crowd chanted as Lewis walked up to the stage with the trophy, signaling the start of the hometown celebration program.
"We have always known we have the greatest football fans in the world," PA announcer Gerry Sandusky said.--Justin George
Nose-bleed seats don't matter
Before the event, fans jammed the stadium's entrances to seating sections and blocked the stairways as the team made their way along the parade route. An open seat was impossible to find by about noon if not earlier. And the field was a crush of humanity. As the players arrived, four helicopters circled the stadium including police crews.
Brian Ingram, 19, and Jake Rotter, 20, roommates from Mount Vernon, found a spot in the upper deck to squeeze in.
"I don't care if it's the upper deck, I'm here," Ingram said. Added Rotter, "It's amazing that every walk of life has come together."
The crowd cheers elevated as the owner, coaches and players were introduced culminating when Ray Lewis entered the field.
"One of the main reasons I love this team is they give back to their fans," Ingram said.
Shawn Dyson, 49, Randallstown, closed his business Dynasty Barber Shop and Hair Salon to give his employees the day off. He brought his family and let his daughter Kendall Willis, 10, skip school.
"This is part of history," he said. "When you have moments like this in your life, you've got to experience them. This is an epic moment for Baltimore."
An hour after the festivities came to a close, drivers continued inching out of parking lots and a steady stream of fans continued to leave the stadium.--Yvonne Wenger
Touching the trophy
Right as the parade began, Ravens safety Ed Reed grabbed the Vince Lombardi Trophy and ran toward the crowds and ran up the route letting fans touch the silver championship trophy.
"Ed Reed is walking along the street instead of riding on a float. Fans are reaching out and touching the Lombardi Trophy!" The Baltimore Ravens official Twitter account tweeted.--Justin George
As the players wound through the parade route toward M&T Bank Stadium, fans followed along, coming up right near the vehicles. Some danced in front of each. Police allowed the fans to approach the vehicles as close as possible -- except for the Humvee that carried Ray Lewis, which was mobbed by fans and protected by mounted patrol. Terrell Suggs, in another camouflage Humvee, carried the trophy just before the convoy entered the stadium. --Justin George
According to a Baltimore City Police Department press release sent out at about 12:30 p.m., M&T Bank Stadium had reached maximum capacity and was no longer open to fans.
Due to the delay in the parade starting, downtown rush hour traffic may be impacted by fans leaving this event. Please allow extra time for travel.
Two tickets to paradise
On the steps of City Hall, players faced the crowd and waved before the parade. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin chatted with linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed had his son sitting on his shoulder.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake introduced Coach John Harbaugh, who riled the crowd up with a quick shout, "How about them Ravens!" He soon turned the microphone over to Reed, who broke into the 1977 Eddie Money song, "Two Tickets to Paradise."
"I've got two tickets to paradise," Reed sang. "Two tickets to paradise." After a couple "whoa, whoa, whoas," he told the crowd that the Super Bowl win wouldn't be Baltimore's last.
"Baltimore in the building," he said. "We taking over. Joe Flacco said we're repeating baby. They better look out for us Baltimore."
Lewis also spoke to the crowd, thanking the fans for their support. "We promised you we were going to New Orleans for one thing and one thing only," he said. "We told you all year: No weapon formed against us will prosper. This is the Ravens' year...That's two for me. Two for me." Lewis added, "Baltimore, I love you, forever and ever and ever and ever."--Justin George
Before the parade began, thousands packed into the field across from Baltimore’s City Hall, where Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s Spotify playlist blared favorites by Jay-Z, the White Stripes and Nelly.
The crowd waited in the cold for more than an hour for the parade to start, but no one seemed to care. Impromptu Ray Lewis squirrel dances broke out, and children climbed up flagpoles to get a better view. Along downtown office buildings and parking garages, fans hung celebratory banners.
City Hall introductions
When a lone Steelers fan arrived, calling herself "Queen T," she was roundly booed and mocked. But then she lost a dance-off to a young kid, praised Lewis and all was forgiven.
"I want to thank all of you for your spirit," Rawlings-Blake told the crowd. "They underestimated us, but..."
"We won!" the fans shouted in response.
"We said we were going to take all the Baltimore Ravens fans down to the Superdome and carry you with us in our hearts. And you were there!" Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We felt you. And all the fans in the stands, we heard you!"
With that, Harbaugh summoned Ravens safety and apparent karaoke enthusiast Ed Reed to sing Eddie Money's "Two Tickets to Paradise," inspiring laughter and more cheering.
Then, Lewis, the retiring standout linebacker, took the microphone for a celebratory but more serious note, and he repeated a modified Bible verse that's become the team's rallying cry: "No weapon formed against us shall prosper."
"It's two for me and the city of Baltimore!" Lewis said of the team's Super Bowl titles.
Screams and shrieks rose up from the crowd.
"We love you, Ray," a woman yelled. "We love you!"--Luke Broadwater
Almost perfect attendance
Live updates have been broadcasting to a nearly full M&T Bank Stadium and fans by the hundreds continue to pour in through the gates. Staff Sgt. James Styles, 56, of Severna Park, said he would have volunteered with his national guard unit to support the festivities if he could. "I've been to every game except one. I couldn't get tickets." Around 11:45 a.m., Styles was still searching for the best seat in the house for him and his elderly mother.—Yvonne Wenger
Everyone loves a parade
After the parade passed, some fans decided not to head over to the stadium, which was already at capacity.
Keith Dealing, 41, Stacy Craven, 40, and Craven's son Zach Craven, 10, all from Belair, said they had a great time at the parade and were excited to go find some lunch. Stacy Craven, who grew up in Locust Point, said the event was an important experience for her son -- a history lesson of sorts.
"We missed the send off, and I was like, there's no way we're missing the parade," she said. "Just to see the players so happy, video taping, that was the cool part for me. Seeing them so excited."
Dealing said he thought the fact some fans rushed onto Pratt Street was "disrespectful," and was glad they had stayed clear of "the riot." But otherwise, the parade was great, he said.
"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to see Ray Lewis, a guy who did so much for the NFL," he said. "To see a guy like that one last time -- we weren't going to miss that for the world."--Kevin Rector
As the parade moved forward, scores of fans broke through barricades and poured onto Pratt Street, following alongside the vehicle that carried Ray Lewis.
Among them were a group of friends from Towson University -- Clara Schneider and Kelley Riley, both 18 from Bethesda; Heather Rera, 18, from Long Island; and Lizzi Hopkins, 18, from Westminster who arrived early in the morning with another friend, Jamie Short, 20, from Westminster.
"Some dude broke the barricade, so we went through. I was just like, 'Way to go, dude!'" Schneider said. "It was very exciting. Very exhilarating."
Also among the revelers were friends from the Pimlico neighborhood of North Baltimore Shauntay Allen, 36, Nicole Rustino, 36, Deara Warren, 25, and Taylor Burden, 28.
"It was awesome, the energy of the crowd," Allen said.
"This is like Times Square," Rustino said.
"We had Baltimore Square," said Allen.
"Yeah Baltimore Square!" Rustino said. "We're representing for our city."
Burden said the fact that fans were able to fill in behind Ray Lewis, and catch up with some of the vehicles carrying other players, made the event extra special.
"We got to see them up close. It brought more excitement. It felt good," she said. "They were so pumped. They were so appreciative."--Kevin Rector
Grown men crying
Brian Snyder, who runs the social event planning company Bmore Around Town, was on the top floor patio at the Pratt Street Ale House after returning on Monday with the 162 fans who had gone to New Orleans for the Super Bowl as part of a chartered flight the company had arranged.
It was great to be back in Baltimore in time for the parade after a fantastic trip, in which everyone stayed, said Snyder, of Arbutus.
"In their minds, it was a great trip overall, but us winning just sealed the legacy," he said, of the fans he took to the Super Bowl. "I've never seen so many grown men cry."
Snyder's voice was still hoarse from all the cheering he did in New Orleans, but he said he wouldn't miss the parade.
Chris Fromm, 28, and Brad Davey, 28, both from the Arbutus area, as well, watched the parade from the patio, which overlooks Pratt.
"This is our first parade. We didn't come to the first one, so came to see the atmosphere," said Fromm, who said this football season has been a great ride.
"A lot of ups and downs, lot of nail biters, but it was great," he said. "Like Ray [Lewis] said, 'We wouldn't have it any other way.'"--Kevin Rector
'In your face!'
Ronda Allen-Bonner, 35, of Edmondson Village, came out with six of her family members. She said the last time the Ravens won the Super Bowl, she wasn't a fan. Allen-Bonner said she asked her husband -- a 49ers fan -- to teach her the rules of the games. She didn't learn until she signed up for Fantasy Football with her coworkers. "In his face!," she said. Her cousin, Kmarr Washington, 36, of Sandtown, said another family member, also a 49ers fan hasn't returned his calls since the game, but another cousin Ebony Dennis, 24, said she's on the right side of history as a Ravens fan. Dennis said she adores Ray Lewis and said he couldn’t have had a more perfect end to his career. "It couldn’t have been any other way," she said. --Yvonne Wenger
Hanging with Mr. Boh
Four students from Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt met at their school at 9 a.m. and left from there. They parked in a garage and were along Pratt Street near the Convention Center. Senior Kyle Fletcher, 18, was dressed in Ravens pajama pants and a jersey and was wearing a Ravens flag as a cape. He said he had been waiting since the last victory “for us to win a Super Bowl. I knew it was our year this year. “ Junior Taji Harris, 16, said, “You just have to catch the moment while you can. It’s part of being young.” They were with brothers senior Ray Harrell, 18, and sophomore Anthony Herrell, 15. Fletcher added, “I’ve just been waiting to be around so many other Ravens fans. The atmosphere is just so lively.”--Kevin Rector
In a press release sent out Tuesday morning, the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management notified fans that the Ravens Super Bowl parade kick-off celebrations are delayed in order to ensure safe assembly of Ravens team members. Inbound interstate routes to Baltimore are experiencing traffic congestion. The parade is now expected to start at 11:30 a.m.
Robert Hecht, 26, of Towson, was driving with friends to try to get to the stadium and turned on to Light Street. As they got to Pratt Street, they were blocked, so they were stuck in their car on Light Street, sitting on the roof and honking the horn. His friend, Allison Higgins, 26, of Canton, was sitting on the roof with him. Higgins said, "we were about to cross the street going to the stadium and they put the fence up in front of us." Hecht added, "I'll take it though" and they plan to watch the parade from the street. They were with CJ Sindler, 26, of Hampden, and Cevry Civelek, 26, of Charles Village. --Kevin Rector
Enjoying the festivities
Stephanie and Les Davis of Middle River came to "enjoy the festivities." They brought their two sons and a neighbor with them. From Stephanie Davis, "It's not something that happens all the time," she said. "The last time they won the Super Bowl. He [Derrek, her son, 11] was only two months old." Derrek declared the day "awesome." Dressed in a Ray Rice jersey, he said, "They played really hard."--Yvonne Wenger
The Hebron family of Landsdowne had a prime seat in the stadium to watch the show. April Hebron, 33, said the family "came to celebrate the Super Bowl champions and Ray Lewis and Lewis' career." She added, "It's an amazing way to bring them home. The school should have allowed kids to take the day off," including her 12-year-old daughter Samantha. "I think today should be an excused absence -- for bird flu."--Yvonne Wenger
A new Johnny Unitas?
By about 9 a.m. the parking lots surrrounding M&T Bank Stadium were about full. The fans were let in earlier than scheduled and music started pumping. Outside the stadium gates, Gerald Bussie, Jr., 26, of Randallstown, posed for a picture with the Johnny Unitas statue. Asked if Ray Lewis is the new Johnny Unitas, Bussie said, "I don't know if I would say 'exceeded,' but he's one of the greatest." Bussie, an insurance claims adjuster, said he had to take off four weeks early to get today off. "I knew we'd be here," he said.--Yvonne Wenger
'City parade, our parade'
City student Kristina Smith, 13, of Garrison Middle School, was on Pratt Street with her brother Jerome Smith, 14, of Baltimore I.T. and a group of friends. They said they were happy to be here and thought the decision that city schools would not have off today was unfair. Kristina said, "I was very upset. So I asked my mom if I could come and she said, 'yes.' When my mom said I could go, I was so excited. You just do not understand, 'I'm going to see the Ravens!'" Her friend, Joshua Green, 14, of Garrison Middle, said "I was mad but I wasn't really tripping because my mother was bringing us down here. With everything going on in the city today and all the traffic, schools should have been let out. It's not fair, because it's the city team. It should be a city parade, our parade." Jerome Smith said, "This should be a celebration because there's been a lot of years we didn't get to the Super Bowl so everybody should be able to come down and celebrate for them."--Kevin Rector
'A live history lesson'
Melissa Albright, 45, and Heather Mendigorin, 39, were lined up on Pratt Street along with their daughters and some of their daughters' friends, all from Hampstead. They had all taken the day off from school and were here with Albright's daughter, Camryn Albright, 14, in 8th grade at Shiloh Middle School who came down for the send-off rally last week, too. Melissa said, "that was fun and crazy. We wouldn't miss this part of it, either." The moms said they took the girls out of school because it's a live history lesson. Mendigorin's two daughters Mia, 13, in 8th grade at Shiloh and Elina, 10, in 5th grade at Spring Garden Elementery School, were with three friends Morgan Herion, 13, in 8th grade at Shiloh, Lauren Bodnar, 14, in 8th grade at Shiloh, Madison Wiedel, 13, in 7th grade Shiloh, who cheer for the Hampstead Ravens. Of the Ravens, Camryn Albright said, "It's crazy. Winning the Super Bowl was insane. I've never been to an actual Ravens game. But I'll make it next season." --Kevin Rector
Worth the wait
Denise Reid a volunteer at Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary School in West Baltimore said, "The whole school celebrated Ray Lewis and the Ravens on Friday," but she wanted to make sure she got to the parade, arriving at 8:15 a.m. Reid said "It was exciting, it was exhilerating. The traffic was jammed, but they deserve the best."--Kevin Rector
Fans from afar
Three friends Aly Rosenthal, 21, from Dundalk, Mayan Alvarado, 21, from Florida, and Becky Kullmann, 22, of New Jersey, left Stockton College in N.J. at 5 a.m. this morning to get down here. Rosenthal said, "It's huge. This is so great. Ray Lewis retiring and the Ravens winning. You can't beat that." Alvarado, a die-hard Raven fan despite being from Florida explained, "I just watched the NFL and I fell in love with Ray Lewis and the team and the passion."--Kevin Rector
Having a ball
Tera Houser, 34, from Pasadena, drove to New Orleans with her husband Thomas and tailgated with friends at the Super Bowl and then drove back 18 hours overnight, taking turns driving, and got to Pasadena at 4:30 a.m. Tera said, "I literally just got here from New Orleans. I am a mess right now. I'm seeing double." Her husband stayed home and went to bed. She told him, "You're crazy." Her husband caught a kick at the last home game and hid the ball from officials. She had the ball with her and is hoping Ray Lewis will sign it.--Kevin Rector
Deborah Rodgers, 52, and Richard Williams, 62, arrived at 7:45 a.m. from Dundalk and said there were already 30 to 40 people in front of City Hall (they were in the front row). Rodgers said, "I'm so happy this morning and so happy we won." Yesterday, she painted her bedroom walls purple. Williams said, "This is Ravens' country." They had a jersey that said, "Thanks, 52" on the back.--Kevin Rector
Sticking with the team
Bob Welck, 56, and daughter Erika Welck, 24, of Pasadena, were front row at City Hall awaiting the parade. They had arrived at 7:15 a.m. "We wanted to make sure we were in the front," Bob Welck said. "We've been with them when they've been bad, we've been with them when they've been good," his daughter said of the Ravens. "We stick with them." --Kevin Rector
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