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Steelers celebrate Super Bowl title with a parade

PITTSBURGH (Feb. 7, 2006) -- Thousands of Steelers fans, some holding signs that simply said "Thanks!", crowded downtown streets for a parade honoring the team's Super Bowl win.

Many fans held Terrible Towels and waved "Champs!" signs in mid-20s temperatures amid snow flurries. Several held signs with a photo of Steelers founder Art Rooney Sr. and the words "We remember." Others wore black and gold hard hats.

Coach Bill Cowher and the players, dressed in gray Super Bowl champion sweat shirts, rode along the route in the back of pickup trucks and other cars. Many recorded the crowd on video cameras as their families rode along with them.

Mayor Bob O'Connor rode along too, sporting a white Jerome Bettis jersey. Even Gov. Ed Rendell, a die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fan, came to cheer on the team.

Crowds lined the mile-long parade route. Sightseeing boats crowded with fans in Steelers gear ferried people from the city's South side to downtown for the parade.

Jeff and Stacy Krieger traveled 3½ hours from York County to Pittsburgh on Monday night to be at the parade with their 9-year-old son, Dylan, and 6-year-old daughter, Makensey.

"It's been 25 years or however long it's been," said Jeff Krieger, a construction foreman and lifelong Steelers fan. "It might be another 25 years. You never know."

Pete Paolello, 37, staked out a nice spot on a traffic island next to the parade route. That was the reward for making the 12-hour drive from Boston and getting into town at 5 a.m. Tuesday.

"I gave my bosses a heads up last week, 'If we win, I'll be out,"' Paolello said. His 24-year-old sister, Josie, of Erie, carried a sign that read "We came from Beantown to Bus-town," referring to Bettis, the retiring running back.

But Paolello's 20-year-old son, Ryan Fernandez, didn't look happy to be in the crowd. He stood out in the sea of black and gold wearing a Red Sox jersey.

"He dragged me out," said Fernandez, who admitted he is a New England Patriots fan.

The plaza near Point State Park was packed with people standing shoulder to shoulder, at least nine rows deep. There was the usual assortment of popular Steelers jerseys in the crowd -- Bettis, Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, to name a few -- along with office workers dressed in suits and overcoats wearing Steelers knit hats or black and gold scarves.

The plaza was rocking as an assortment of hip-hop music blared over the loud speakers, and it soon got louder when the unofficial Steelers anthem and the Pittsburgh Polka started playing.

The parade was a chance for people to show off their new Super Bowl T-shirts and hats.

Jim Disilverio, 53, a postman from Dillsburg, about three hours east of Pittsburgh, bought a hat, Steelers shirt and Super Bowl edition of the Terrible Towel.

To get to the parade, Disilverio left his house at 3 a.m. Tuesday in a black Volkswagen Beetle that he fashioned to look like a Steelers helmet. He said he was at the Steelers victory parade in the 1970s when they won their first Super Bowl.

"I was surprised that they got this far, the way they played the beginning of the season," Disilverio said.

The Steelers won their fifth Super Bowl title, beating the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 in Detroit, in the team's first Super Bowl win since 1980.

The parade, featuring several high school marching bands, began at Mellon Arena. It was to travel a mile along Centre Avenue before heading to Point State Park.


Associated Press writer Genaro Armas contributed to this report.

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