49er Fans Exuberant Over 3rd Bowl Victory
Blowing horns and waving signs, tens of thousands of noisy fans flooded the city Monday to cheer the San Francisco 49ers, last-minute winners of Super Bowl XXIII, as they paraded down Market Street in cable cars and antique automobiles.
The California Highway Patrol, relying on a helicopter spotter above the 1 1/4-mile parade route, estimated that 250,000 people filled the sidewalks or watched from windows and rooftops.
More revelers perched atop phone booths, news stands and trash receptacles or shimmied up leafless trees and ornate, cast-iron light standards, which were decorated with 49er flags and balloons in the team’s colors, red and gold.
“Was it worth the wait? Are you kidding? Definitely!” said Tommy Barrett, a 49er fan from San Francisco. “The only disappointment is that they didn’t have a rally at City Hall like they did in the past. But it really doesn’t matter. We’re dedicated fans, 49er faithfuls.”
“Bud, too,” added Barrett’s girlfriend, Etta Roberts of San Francisco, referring to their pit bulldog, which sported a 49er championship T-shirt. Humans in the crowd were similarly attired in all manner of souvenir garb: T-shirts, helmets, sweat shirts, hats, jackets--even helmet-shaped umbrellas.
San Francisco Police reported one arrest after the late-afternoon parade and they characterized the crowd as noisy but good-natured.
Coach Bill Walsh, team owner Eddie DeBartolo and Mayor Art Agnos led the parade in an antique Jaguar Phaeton, with Walsh drawing roars by waving the hefty silver Vince Lombardi trophy awarded annually to the National Football League champions.
Star quarterback Joe Montana rode in one of the 15 cable cars--actually motorized replicas, because Market Street is not equipped to run real cable cars--with his wife, Jennifer, a local television personality, and their two daughters.
Wide receiver Jerry Rice, the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player, followed in a 1950s pink Cadillac convertible. Randy Cross, a popular offensive lineman who announced his retirement before the championship game, rode in a similar car.
San Francisco beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 20-16, with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Montana to wide receive John Taylor with just 34 seconds left in the game. It was the closest Super Bowl score in a decade and the only last-minute come-from-behind victory in the history of the game.
Although Monday’s parade was the official city commemoration of the Super Bowl triumph, it was by no means San Francisco’s only outpouring of joy.
Spontaneous streetside victory parties began just minutes after the winning touchdown pass Sunday evening and continued to build over the next six hours until rain showers near midnight finally dampened celebrants’ enthusiasm.
Strangers kissed strangers, and streams of celebrants snaked down sidewalks exchanging a seemingly endless series of “high fives” with people moving the opposite way.
Some people said they drove up to 35 miles to join the outpouring. Traffic in North Beach soon grew bad enough to back cars onto the Embarcadero Freeway, forcing the Highway Patrol to close that entire elevated highway.
Despite 90 arrests Sunday night--most for drunkenness--police said there was relatively little violence or property damage. A few store windows were broken, two cars were overturned and a couple of outbreaks of bottle-throwing had to be quelled by swift musterings of helmeted riot officers.
The tone was in marked contrast to similar festivities after 49er Super Bowl victories in 1982 and 1985. In both cases, police reported fights, many broken windows, minor looting and the setting of street corner bonfires by over-exuberant fans.