By Daniel Lovering
BOSTON (Reuters) - Revelers packed the streets of Boston on Saturday to celebrate the Red Sox's first World Series win at home since 1918, a triumph that came just six months after deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon tested the city's resolve.
Players and officials boarded duck boats — amphibious vehicles normally used to ferry tourists — at historic Fenway Park for a "rolling rally" that would wind its way along city streets and into the Charles River.
Jubilant fans wearing Red Sox hats, sweatshirts and jackets turned out in droves along the route, which included the stretch of Boylston Street where two homemade pressure-cooker bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, killing three people and injuring 264.
"For me, it's a huge thing," said Justin Perkins, 32, a construction worker from Worcester, Massachusetts, who grew a beard to show support for the team's bearded players. "For them to win it in Boston, it's awesome, unbelievable."
At the site of the marathon tragedy, Jonny Gomes and other players climbed out of their duck boat and placed the team's World Series trophy at the finish line. They also presented Red Sox jerseys to owners of businesses devastated by the attack, one of the worst on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001.
Before the parade began, thousands of season ticket holders and other fans gathered at Fenway Park, where players and officials including Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino addressed the crowd.
"It's kind of a poetic ending to a season that began with tragedy," said Patrick, who pointed out survivors of the bombings in the stands.
"To see the team come from where it came last season to where we are right now, to see this whole city and community come from where we were then to where we are right now, is incredibly affirming and very powerful," he said.
The Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4 games to 2 to win the World Series on Wednesday night.
The title was their first at home since 1918, the last year Babe Ruth was with the team before being traded to the New York Yankees. The team went 86 years between World Series victories before breaking its drought in 2004.
"This team embodies the perseverance and resilience of our city," Mayor Menino said in a statement earlier.
At Fenway Park, the Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, who won the series' Most Valuable Player award, said he felt "like a million bucks."
"We stick together," he said of the city. "It's a family, and we fight against the world. You guys start it up, we'll finish it."
The American Celtic punk music group Dropkick Murphys, which performed the national anthem before Game Six on Wednesday night, played from the back of a truck that was part of the parade. At one point, as the parade wound out of the ballpark, the truck got stuck in the mud.
Several of the 24 duck boats had large fabric "beards" draped across their bows in a nod to the symbol of the team's sense of brotherhood, and fans streamed onto the field under blue skies as soon as the boats left the park.
(Editing by Edith Honan and Gunna Dickson)