SAN FRANCISCO Were you a bit behind on sporting news, you might have thought those were witches' brooms bobbing along the sidewalks Wednesday, not symbols of the Giants' World Series sweep. Or that San Franciscans have a thing for pandas and giraffes, rather than the Kung Fu Panda and the Baby Giraffe.
Amid the roar of their city and swirls of orange and black confetti, the Giants rolled down the middle of Market Street in a Halloween-day championship parade that drew hundreds of thousands of fans clamoring to fete the World Series winners.
Fans crowded the sidewalk 20 people deep in places, climbed newspaper racks and bus-stop structures, and craned their necks out of office windows to catch a glimpse of floats and cars carrying the Giants' personnel and players.
It was the second such celebration in the past three seasons for San Francisco, which had waited more than 50 years for its first.
"It's a cherry on the sundae," said Wendy Cook Wittmann, 39, of Alameda, sitting in a folding chair along the parade route.
City and team dignitaries passed first, among them Hall of Famers Willie McCovey and Willie Mays. Manager Bruce Bochy held the Commissioner's Trophy above his head as he rode by to cheers of "Bo-chy!"
The players followed, riding with their families in open convertibles, waving to the crowd.
The civic pride was infectious. Jim Harbaugh, the coach of the 49ers, was at the wheel of the car carrying Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, and quarterback Alex Smith drove pitcher Matt Cain.
While police declined to give an estimate of the crowd size, citing department policy, Sgt. Michael Andraychak, a Police Department spokesman, did note that they made about 20 arrests on charges that included public intoxication and battery.
Andraychak said crowds were mostly cooperative. The Giants said the crowd numbered approximately a million people, akin to the throng that turned out for the team's first championship parade in San Francisco in 2010.
"That one was surreal," said Ray Mirpuri, 43, of San Francisco. "This one feels more real."
Did that make it less meaningful?
"Oh, no," said Marshia Herring of Berkeley, in her 60s, wearing a jacket checkered with orange. "No way. We're the best in the nation. And everybody had us as underdogs."
Many crowding Market Street took advantage of the parade falling on Halloween, mixing Giants gear with face paint and costumes. The Giants drifted by them to the Civic Center Plaza, where Mayor Ed Lee presented the team with a ceremonial key and broom to the city, the latter a nod to their sweep of the American League champion Detroit Tigers.
Addressing the crowd alongside fellow pitcher Ryan Vogelsong, left-hander Barry Zito, a key member of the Giants' title run after being left off their postseason rosters two years ago, said: "Me and him have kind of been through a couple different states of hell in this game, the lowest of the lows. We're enjoying the highest of the highs right now."
The outrageousness of 2010, when Aubrey Huff produced his red "rally thong" on stage, was mostly missing. Players thanked the fans and reflected on a season marked by strong team chemistry. Bochy touted the team's "never-say-die" attitude and thanked the fans for contributing to "one of the greatest moments of my life."
Toward the end of the program, players came together on stage for one of the exuberant huddles that became a pregame ritual in the playoffs. Singer Tony Bennett then walked out for a performance of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," as several players took video and closer Sergio Romo lifted the trophy behind Bennett.
As the sun came up Wednesday, people were already staking out their spots. Patrick Carney, 40, said he and his son James left their Danville home about 6:30 a.m. to catch a BART train to the city that was "beyond packed."
"I could barely even move," said James, 7, who bowed out of his school's Halloween parade to attend a bigger one.
"His teacher said, 'Go for it,' " Carney said. "She's a big Giants fan, too.
"I'm a teacher," Carney added, "and I took the day off."
Will Wittmann, 72, said he drove from Anderson, near Redding, on Tuesday night to attend the parade with his son and daughter-in-law, who urged him to come after he skipped the celebration in 2010.
"I don't know if I'll come to another one," Wittmann said. "I don't mean that to be derogatory, I just don't know if there'll be another one soon."
Then he added: "I said that last time."