Snowballs and confetti, rather than ticker-tape, hailed the Super Bowl champion New York Giants as they returned to their stadium Tuesday to celebrate their first NFL championship in 31 years.
More than 30,000 braved 10-degree temperatures for the festivities, which team officials decided to have at Giants Stadium after a controversy developed whether to give the club New York’s traditional heroes’ parade through the streets of downtown Manhattan.
The frigid weather limited the crowd. Organizers had prepared for 125,000 people, raising $650,000 from private donations, ordering 100,000 kazoos and stuffing bags with pompons, buttons and confetti.
The first die-hard fans, thinking they would have to compete for seats, spent the night in the icy parking lot. More gathered at dawn, lighting bonfires and cooking tailgate breakfasts.
Those who were there got what they came for.
“I have a little something to show you,” Coach Bill Parcells said as he held up the silver Vince Lombardi Trophy earned for the team’s 39-20 victory over the Denver Broncos Sunday.
Parcells was showered with confetti from a Gatorade bucket, symbolic of the soft-drink shower he received after most Giants victories.
“I hope that sometime in the near future we can all get together and do this again,” said quarterback Phil Simms, the Super Bowl MVP who joined his teammates on the stage to receive gold medallions from New Jersey Gov. Thomas H. Kean.
Fans provided some of their own entertainment, chanting “We’re No. 1,” singing “We Are The Champions” and “Go Giants Go” and getting into snowball fights.
About 100 National Guardsmen were called in to guard the snow piles on the field and several people were escorted out of the stadium. There were no arrests.
About 20 people were treated for minor injuries from snowballs, falls on the ice and exposure, authorities said.
“The Giants are the first world champions from the state of New Jersey,” Kean said.
He added that “the Giants are a team which knows no formal boundaries,” but there was no doubt the fans rejected any claims by New York City, where Mayor Edward I. Koch at first snubbed the team by refusing a ticker-tape victory parade.
Koch, vacationing in Poland, compounded the insult this week when called the official Giants Stadium celebration “practice” and kept open an offer for a corporation-sponsored parade down Broadway.
The only dignitary from the New York side of the Hudson River on hand Tuesday was New York City Council President Andrew Stein, who could barely get out a “New York loves New Jersey” before boos and a few snowballs chased him off the stage.
The players chose a more diplomatic course, praising all their fans for patient loyalty through the losing seasons.
Veteran defensive end George Martin assured them, “The feast has just begun,” and crowd responded with a chorus of kazoos playing “California Here I Come,” an optimistic reprise referring to the Super Bowl next year in San Diego.