S.F. Giants fans paint the town orange

The confetti that carpeted the parade route Wednesday morning was San Francisco Giants orange — and so were the T-shirts and fright wigs, the hair dye and body paint, the lights on Coit Tower and City Hall and the tiny hearts stuck to Anna Goldberg’s face.

For the first time since the baseball team arrived on the West Coast 52 years ago, fans here had reason to really celebrate. And on Wednesday, they choked the Financial District and the Civic Center to cheer their beloved team’s long-awaited World Series championship.

Ten-year-old Goldberg was playing hooky — along with her mother, little brother and tens of thousands of screaming sports fans, some who began gathering the night before to ensure good seats at the public party. The Police Department cancelled all regular days off.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit District ran extra long trains, and they were jammed. Cable cars sported Giants flags. The defeat of Prop. 19 notwithstanding, the scent of marijuana was in the air.


“There’s more education here than in a very good school in Alameda,” was Rosa Montes Goldberg’s rationale as the family waited for the festivities to begin near the Civic Center BART station. “We’re Giants fans because they’re the most civilized team in the world. This is the kind of crowd we want to be a part of.”

You know you’re in San Francisco, left-leaning and starved for baseball glory, when:

Mayor Gavin Newsom quotes Jerry Garcia while presenting the champions with the key to the city. (He won’t need it anymore; he’s headed to Sacramento and a new gig as lieutenant governor.)

Deliriously happy fans along the parade route cheer every vehicle that passes by — including empty buses and fake cable cars labeled “Investment Group” and “Baseball Operations Group.”

Those same cheerful fans scrape up enough partisan venom to greet Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the outgoing Republican, with a loud chorus of boos.

And even the city’s homeless population gets into the sporting spirit. One panhandler’s sign read: “Giants I Bet You $1 You Don’t Read This Sign.”

Steve Frith, a 28-year-old bank employee, left Folsom at 6 p.m. Tuesday, because he “wanted to be here front and center.” He hit a couple of bars with his buddies along the way, arrived at the Civic Center at 2:30 a.m. and managed three half-hour naps on the lawn overnight. There was 500 in the crowd even then, he said, shaking his head in amazement.

Frith dressed up for Halloween as Brian “Fear the Beard” Wilson, the Giants’ famed closer. He attended home games when the team beat the Atlanta Braves to win the National League West division title. Ditto when they beat the Philadelphia Phillies to win the pennant.

“But I couldn’t afford the $600 for standing room only at the World Series,” he said. Wednesday’s celebration was the next best thing. “I’ve been waiting my whole life for this,” he gushed from his vantage point in front of City Hall hours before the parade arrived. “I’m squeezing every last drop out of this.”

Juzer Essabhoy, a 47-year-old financial industry headhunter, tried to make the pre-parade wait at least a little bit productive. About dawn, he set up his laptop on a small ladder along Montgomery Street, where the victory procession would begin.

“Yeah, I’ve been trying to work,” he said, as he sipped a bloody mary in a plastic glass. “There was no way I could miss this. I’ve been a fan for 34 years, since I emigrated from India in ’76.”

Mary Breault, a San Francisco medical secretary and Giants season ticketholder, wore sandals that displayed her pedicure, a brilliant Giants orange. “I always hoped for this, but I never really believed it,” she said. “If you would have asked me in April about the chances, I won’t repeat what I would have said.”

But the season was long and the team prevailed, and the parade began at 11:15 a.m. sharp. Less than 30 minutes after the classic cars and fake trolleys passed by filled with current champs and Giants legends, maintenance crews were clearing away the confetti with power hoses.

First, though, scores of children — and their parents — scooped up huge handfuls of the stuff and tossed it back in the air again. And snapped photos. And celebrated.

Klein is a Times special correspondent.