On Monday, the realization began to set in for Baltimore-area residents that the Ravens' victory in the Super Bowl on Sunday night was something they would remember for the rest of their lives.
With memory-making in mind, Shemirra House-Massie took her husband and three children to the Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills to greet the team as the players returned from New Orleans. About 50 others had the same idea and gathered outside the complex, known as the Castle, on Monday afternoon.
To pass the time, two of House-Massie's children, Damon, 8, and Diamon, 3, played football with other fans waiting outside the facility and practiced Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis' signature dance, to applause.
"My favorite player is Ray Rice and Ray Lewis," Diamon said as she jumped up and down and squealed with excitement.
House-Massie, wearing a Raven-shaped hat, said her younger children don't understand everything about the game just yet, "they just get excited and scream."
Zena Xenae, who came to see the Ravens return, brought a homemade "We Love You Ray Lewis" sign. She recently used photo-editing software to create a picture of herself with Lewis and made it her Facebook profile picture.
"When the confetti came down ... to me, it felt like the end of an era, of Ray Lewis' career and all the good he's done in the community," she said, describing the experience as bittersweet. "Will they still have that spunk? Every Sunday, we look for Ray Lewis to come out of that tunnel and do that dance."
For others, Monday was a day for groggy triumph, as fans rode high on the Ravens' victory and nursed themselves back to life after a night of celebration.
"I kept hearing chants in my head all night," said Steve Stack, 34, who got little sleep after watching the big game with friends at a bar in Linthicum. "I think I watched ESPN highlights all night. I couldn't get to sleep. You get too amped up."
Stack, who works in home improvement, was one of many fans facing an early morning at Cross Street Market in Federal Hill, where he was meeting co-workers for breakfast. His crew usually starts at 7:30 a.m., he said, but they weren't getting under way Monday until 9 a.m.
"The boss gave us a break," he said with a laugh.
Outside the market, where thousands of fans had gathered in celebration after the Ravens' 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, city work crews were busy cleaning up — emptying dumpsters overflowing with trash and sweeping streets littered with confetti and purple streamers.
Cans and bottles were everywhere, along curbs and in front yards, on ledges and beneath bushes.
Similar cleanup crews worked in popular night-life areas across the city, including Canton and Fells Point.
Police in the region reported few disturbances. Across the state, preliminary data showed Maryland State Police handled 26 drunken-driving arrests between Sunday and Monday morning, police said. That wasn't a final total, but the number will likely remain below the 38 total DUI arrests made during and after last year's Super Bowl, said Sgt. Marc Black.
Other law enforcement agencies in the region had a less eventful night. The Carroll County Sheriff's Office handled just one drunken driving arrest, while Howard County Police handled three, spokespeople said.
Carroll Zentz, 24, who lives in Federal Hill and teaches in Frederick County, was up early for breakfast before heading into work. She had purchased six copies of The Baltimore Sun to remember the night.
"Unreal," he said of the game. "It was unbelievable."
It was clear people still had football on their minds as the morning rolled on. Teresa Conyers, in Federal Hill for work cleaning houses, said people were cheering loudly on her morning bus commute. "The bus driver was shouting when you got on, 'Go Ravens! You see the Ravens?'"
Willie Cain, 66, who lives in Advent Senior Housing on Patapsco Street, said he heard people cheering all night. People were shouting in the hallways of his building, he said.
"I came out, and they were all in the street, the cars couldn't get by, the police helicopter was going," he said. "People were really enjoying themselves."
Many had gotten an early start, said Stanton Salter, 38, who lives at William and E. Cross streets. "I took a walk around in the afternoon, before the game, just to get the pulse of the neighborhood, and it was electric."
Salter watched the game at his house because that was his "lucky spot" through the playoffs, he said. Every time the Ravens scored, he ran over to his neighbors' house to give them a high-five.
When the Ravens won, he went outside and saw streams of people running down the street. Salter, a racing official for the Maryland Jockey Club, hopes the revelry is long-lived, and that some of the Ravens can make it to the Preakness this year and get the crowd going there, too.
"This is Ravens town," he said. "It's going to be pretty awesome for the city."
Liz Hirschhorn, who graduated from the Johns Hopkins University and lived in Baltimore for 12 years before moving to San Francisco, just happened to be in town for business, and watched the game with an old Hopkins friend in Otterbein.
Despite living in San Francisco, she was rooting for the Ravens, Hirschhorn said. "The Niners are fun, but the Ravens have much more heart."
The game made it a perfect weekend to visit Baltimore, a city that still holds a special place in her heart.
Between sips of coffee, she said, "I was so thrilled to see the city revived, and what a thrill to be world champs."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun