By John McDevitt, Mike DeNardo, Jan Carabeo and Matt Rivers
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It was a big day for Philadelphia’s standout little league team — the Taney Dragons — who floated through Center City Wednesday during a parade celebrating their recent run during the Little League World Series.
PHOTOS: Taney Dragons Parade
You could feel the love in Philadelphia. An entire city came out to support a little league team that stole the national spotlight this summer.
It’s an impressive and overwhelming feat for the players of the Taney Dragons and their parents.
“We didn’t realize on a grand scale how tremendous it was I guess,” Robin Bandura said. She’s catcher Scott Bandura’s mother. “It’s going to take a lot for me not to cry.”
Thousands lined Market Street in Center City at 2 p.m. to catch a glimpse of the Taney Dragons as they kicked off their celebration parade.
One of the stops of the parade was at the Kimmel Center.
Mayor Michael Nutter led a cheer for the Taney Dragons, then members of the Philly Pops played the theme song of Rocky.
“It didn’t matter to us whether they won the series or not for the pride they brought to Philadelphia the Philly Pops! wanted to give something back,” says Frank Giordano, president of the Philly Pops.
Suzanne Hamilton and her husband Dave were among hundreds of fans that cheered for the team when their float stopped in front of the Kimmel.
“We do come in the city from Hatboro and we come in here frequently for lots of good things and this is one of the super things,” she said.
The party then stretched for miles into South Philadelphia for a performance by the Mummers.
The parade was a celebration not of how the season ended, the team fell two games short of the World Series title, but a celebration of the kids’ journey and hard work.
“It was wonderful, made me cry,” one fan said.
A day of adulation for the Taney Dragons culminated in a ceremony at FDR Park.
“Welcome the Taney Dragons — the 2014 Mid-Atlantic champions!” Mayor Nutter said.
With the entire Taney team standing behind him, Mayor Nutter led a rally for a few hundred fans at FDR Park. Taney manager Alex Rice says the parade honoring his team seemed to get better as it went on.
“To come down Broad Street and see every single Philadelphian, no matter who they are, whether they have any relation to baseball, which I think probably over half, a good portion of them don’t, just to cheer the kids and say thank you, it’s incredible,” Rice said.
Mayor Nutter’s voice was momentarily choked with emotion, when he introduced pitcher Mo’ne Davis as the first African American girl to play in a Little League World Series game.
The day’s festivities ended in spectacular fashion with an on-field tribute by the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
While it might be the Phillies’ park, Wednesday, it was the Dragons’ day.
Philly’s favorite little leaguers got a standing ovation and a hero’s welcome from the thousands on hand, flanked by Phillies on both sides as they strode through center field.
“What was scarier, coming through center field in Citizens Bank Park or or taking the field at Williamsport?,” asked Eyewitness News reporter Matt Rivers. Taney player Carter Davis responded, “That’s a tough question but I think taking the field at Williamsport.”
Of course, baseball diamonds and big moments are no strangers to this team. They looked at ease up on stage in the infield during the ceremony, just like they did in Williamsport.
The team even successfully threw out the first pitch too, with all 12 players tossing to a corresponding member of the Phillies.
This all came after a day of love from a city known for it.
“Really terrific getting to see what the kids’ summer had done for my home of Philadelphia,” said Alex Rice, the manager of the Dragons.
“I really didn’t have an idea of what was going on in Philadelphia being in Williamsport, and coming here and seeing all the love from people I don’t know,” said Joe Richardson, Sr., whose son plays on the team.
And so the team we’ve grown to love got to take one last victory lap — the boys and girl of summer in Philadelphia.
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