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Boston Red Sox parade reclaims marathon finish line

By Michael Martinez and Marlena Baldacci, CNN
updated 11:14 AM EST, Sun November 3, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Crowd and team sing "God Bless America" at finish line
  • Six months ago, terrorist bombers struck near the Boston Marathon finish line
  • But on Saturday, a Boston Red Sox player rests the World Series trophy on that line
  • Bostonians are cheering again on the finish line

Boston (CNN) -- Six months ago, the finish line of the Boston Marathon was a scene of smoke, blood and death.

On Saturday, tragedy became triumph when the victory parade of the World Series champions Boston Red Sox crossed the same line surrounded by crowds, which were expected to reach 1 million people over the entire celebration route.

What the Red Sox mean to Boston

In a crowning moment, Red Sox player Jonny Gomes rested the World Series trophy on the finish line, draped with a team jersey whose back declared "Boston Strong 617," the slogan created to overcome April's terror attacks.

Led by an announcer, the team and crowd sang "God Bless America" at the line, which remains painted on the street.

The championship parade marked the restoration of a city's soul, darkened during bombings that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others who gathered last spring to watch the marathon near the finish line.

Boston Red Sox players hold up the championship trophy after Game 6 of baseball's World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, October 30, in Boston. The Red Sox defeated the Cardinals 6-1. Boston Red Sox players hold up the championship trophy after Game 6 of baseball's World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, October 30, in Boston. The Red Sox defeated the Cardinals 6-1.
Photos: Boston celebrates World Series win
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Photos: Boston celebrates World Series win Photos: Boston celebrates World Series win
Marathon survivors celebrate Red Sox
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But on Saturday, the pall cast over that line was vanquished.

A great American city found its spirit returned. And it rejoiced.

See the parade's best moments

"The last time I was standing on the streets of Boston was the day of the marathon, and I'd just like to say thank you to the Red Sox for bringing all these people back to the streets for something so great to celebrate," said parade attendee Laurie Delaney of Dedham, Massachusetts.

In fact, on the day of the bombings six months ago, Delaney was on Boylston Street where the explosions occurred, and earlier that day, she was at a Red Sox game.

Saturday's celebration was emotional, she said.

Every Bostonian attending the parade remembered where they were the day of the bombings. Ryan Sedlacek was in his Boston home less than a mile from the finish line.

"It doesn't fix what we went through, but it helps cover it up," Sedlacek said of the collective rejoicing.

What made the moment doubly triumphant was how the Boston Red Sox finished in last place in 2012.

In a city passionate about its baseball, the team went from worst to first, despite the attacks on the city. The Red Sox won the World Series on Wednesday night, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals. The team won it at home, in Fenway Park, the first time they've done so since 1918.

The victory seemed a godsend.

"It feels like it should have happened," Sedlacek said.

The Red Sox team met with bombing survivors over breakfast, just before the fanfare of vehicles and about two dozen amphibious duck boats began the motorcade at the team's stadium at 10 a.m. Saturday, said Heather Abbott, one of the survivors who attended the gathering.

The parade ended in the Charles River when the duck boats took to the water and motored along the shore.

CNN's Michael Martinez wrote from Los Angeles, and Marlena Baldacci and Alexandra Field contributed from Boston.

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