ANAHEIM — Tens of thousands of red-dressed, flag-waving fans turned Disneyland’s Main Street into a highway to heaven salute Tuesday for the Anaheim Angels.
With Jackie Autry riding alongside Mickey Mouse, fans cheered the team’s first World Series championship at the Disneyland parade and later at a huge rally at Edison Field.
“For all the Angels fans who have been here from the beginning, and all the Angels we had above, this championship is for you,” team manager Mike Scioscia said at the rally.
Two hours earlier, Scioscia held the World Series trophy aloft at Disneyland, which was awash in Angels red, with shirts, hats and faces painted with halos. Fans there had paid as much as $45 for a ticket to the park, where the parade was held along Main Street.
Fan Carl Romano shouted congratulations to Jackie Autry, the widow of Gene Autry, who formed the expansion team in 1961.
“She’s waited a long time for this,” Romano said.
The Walt Disney Co. bought the Angels after Gene Autry died in 1998.
The hard-luck team had never won a playoff series before beating the New York Yankees earlier this month in an American League division series. They followed that up by beating the Minnesota Twins to win the American League pennant and then defeating the Giants in seven games.
A second parade began at Arrowhead Pond, home of the Mighty Ducks hockey team, and ended with a rally at Edison Field, home of the Angels.
“I waited 10 years for something like this,” veteran Angels slugger Tim Salmon told the screaming crowd. “But I know you guys have been waiting a lot longer. This is yours.”
Added Angels relief pitcher Troy Percival: “We want to do this every year.”
Anaheim police had no estimate of the crowd but said as many as 300,000 people were expected for the rally.
Mike Goetz, 44, arrived at Edison Field at 5:30 a.m. armed with signs that read, “Thanks for the dream, Walt and Gene” and “And after the seventh game, we party.” One young girl who apparently skipped school carried a banner reading, “Sorry teacher! Angels forever!”
Goetz said the Angels had suffered from lack of respect over the years.
“Nobody took them seriously,” he said. “Now everybody has to.”
The parade and rally at Edison Field were free. However, fans had to pay an admission charge at Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure park. Disney has come under fire for charging fans who wanted to attend the events.
John McClintock, a spokesman for the Disneyland Resort, said there could have been severe overcrowding and other logistical problems if the parks had been opened free.