Ravens lauded during parade

BALTIMORE - They couldn't all join in. About 20 minutes before the ceremony at M&T Bank Stadium, police stopped fans from entering. The stadium had reached capacity and thousands of fans had gathered on the grass field.

Thousands of fans who couldn't come to the games, who didn't have the means to make the trip to New Orleans, jammed into the stadium. Driving downtown was impossible. Streets were impassable and many were blocked off. That didn't stop the fans, but did delay the team.

Tuesday was a day to celebrate the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, a day they'll remember always. First was a ceremony at City Hall where Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake honored them.

Team owner Steve Bisciotti, coach John Harbaugh and Ray Lewis spoke briefly to the City Hall crowd. Ed Reed warbled "Two Tickets to Paradise, and the team took off for their parade.

A phalanx of police horses flanked Lewis' float as the crowd ran into the streets.

When the team arrived at the stadium, they were introduced to the crowd by unit. Special teams came first, then offense and finally the defense.

Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Joe Flacco walked onto the field with "When You Wish Upon a Star" playing, and finally Lewis got his turn to a final rendition of "Hot in Herre." After holding the Lombardi trophy, Lewis broke into his squirrel dance and walked onto stage leading the crowd in the "Seven Nation Army" chant.

The 30-minute lovefest featured short speeches from Bisciotti, Flacco, Lewis, Reed and Harbaugh.

"I don't know how many more times we can do this, bringing championships home before Baltimore loses that chip on its shoulder. I hope it never happens," Bisciotti said.

Harbaugh, clearly relishing his time in the spotlight, spoke last.

"This whole stadium is packed with the Baltimore Raven team - together," he said. "You were there with us, and you did it."

Harbaugh talked about the traffic and the unparalleled volume of fans.

"The city is going crazy for the Ravens, the World Champion Baltimore Ravens," Harbaugh said before leading the crowd in the

"What's our name?" chant.

While fans quickly emptied the stands, several thousand lingered on the field for a half-hour, savoring a rare chance to walk on the same field as their heroes.

Carroll County residents were well represented at the celebration.

Amy Blizzard, a nurse at Carroll Hospital Center, who lives in Westminster, came with her husband, Storm.

"We think it's amazing that Ray Lewis is going out on top. It was awesome to come down. Sounds like fun," she said.

Her husband works for a company that does the refrigeration at the stadium. He was thrilled to be at the giant party.

"The last time they won the Super Bowl, I was 12," Storm Blizzard said." It was one of those things that I was too young to appreciate it. This is the last time we're going to see Ray Lewis as a Raven."

When Lewis was introduced to the crowd for the last time as a member of the Ravens, he saluted the crowd.

"There's no place on this Earth that's better than Baltimore. This city, we believed in each other from Day One. 1996 to now, we believed in each other now, Baltimore. This team was destined to with the Super Bowl," Lewis said.

"Every time I stepped into the stadium, all I received was pure love. The only way on my last ride to repay Baltimore back was bring back the Lombardi trophy."