HOUSTON (AP) — Tens of thousands of Astros fans wearing orange jerseys and T-shirts jammed downtown Houston on Friday ahead of a parade celebrating their World Series championship team, surprising city officials who quickly extended the parade route to accommodate the crowd.
Fans stood more than 10 rows deep along the now 20-block parade route hours ahead of the 2 p.m. event, cheering and waving pennants. Others claimed bird's-eye views from the upper floors of parking structures, draping banners down the walls. Many fans played catch in front of City Hall, where a post-parade rally will be held.
Manuel Mejia and his 15-year-old son, Jonah, snatched a key spot along the route by 9 a.m. The pair set up four folding chairs at a street corner to be able to see the start and end of the parade.
"I'm just trying to get a good spot. It's going to get packed," the 43-year-old father said, noting he's been an Astros fan since his father took him to his first Astros game when he was 8 years old.
But he and other fans said the World Series win is great for all of Houston, as the city continues to recover from Harvey and the devastating rains and flooding that followed the late August storm.
"We needed this win real bad for the city of Houston," said 47-year-old LaShawn Harris, who lives in the suburb of Baytown. "Harvey is gone. Harvey is smashed. Harvey is no more. It is all about today."
Harris, dressed in an orange Astros T-shirt and cap, and a fanny pack with gold-colored sequins, said she got up at 5 a.m. so she, her two nieces and her granddaughter could get to the site of the parade and rally in front of City Hall and get "a good spot."
The Astros took home their first championship in franchise history with a Game 7 win Wednesday in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. Playing for a city still recovering from Hurricane Harvey, and wearing an "H Strong" logo on their jerseys, the Astros won the title that had eluded them since they started out in 1962 as the Colt .45s.
The parade is the first championship for professional sports team in the city since the Houston Rockets Rockets won back-to-back NBA titles in the mid-1990s. The 1995 Rockets parade attracted an estimated 500,000 people.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner hoped Friday's event would top that number.
The Houston school district cancelled classes on Friday so students, staff and their families could attend the parade. And the city's public transit agency waived all fees and people were encouraged to use public transportation because parking downtown was limited.
Many underground garages remain closed because of damage caused by the flooding that devastated parts of the city after Harvey.
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