Women’s World Cup soccer champs cheered in New York parade
The World Cup winning U.S. women’s soccer team rolled up New York City’s “Canyon of Heroes” on Friday, with a blizzard of confetti swirling overhead in the first ticker-tape parade honoring a women’s sports team.
“U-S-A, U-S-A,” chanted thousands waving American flags as the parade began moving north from lower Manhattan, cheered by a crowd thick with girls decked out in soccer socks and star-spangled headbands.
“It’s not just a win for them, it’s a win for all female athletes,” said Tori Klevan, 18, who came from Philadelphia with her fellow soccer players wearing red, white and blue hats and waving a cutout of the champion team midfielder Megan Rapinoe.
Another group of girls from New York’s Long Island, their faces painted with stars and stripes, said they hoped the parade would mark a shift in the world of sports.
“We’re totally for women’s sports making it bigger in the world,” said Brooke Salmon, 18, of Long Island.
The United States defeated Japan 5-2 in the FIFA Women’s World Cup final on Sunday in Vancouver, Canada, the third time the U.S. women have won the title of world champions.
The victorious women’s team joins the ranks of Apollo astronauts, foreign monarchs and baseball’s New York Yankees in being honored with a parade and a granite marker on Broadway in lower Manhattan.
In addition, the 408-foot spire of One World Trade Center, built on the site where hijacked planes slammed into the twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001, will be lit up in red, white and blue on Friday night, said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
During the day, at the northern tip of Manhattan, the world’s largest free-flying American flag flew from the George Washington Bridge.
“This team captured the imagination of the nation,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press conference on the eve of the procession. “Their victory, I think, sends a message about the strength of women, the power of women, and the changes that we need in our society.”
The last woman athlete to be honored with a ticker tape parade was Olympic figure skating champion Carol Heiss Jenkins in 1960.
The New York tradition began in 1886, when people who worked in skyscrapers threw ticker tape – ribbons of white paper on which stock information was recorded in those days – onto a parade celebrating the dedication of the Statue of Liberty.
With stock information now computerized, ticker tape has been replaced with shredded office paper and confetti. On Thursday, the Downtown Alliance neighborhood group delivered about two tons of shredded paper to more than 50 buildings and tenants along the parade route, a fraction of the paper that will be used.
The City of New York Department of Sanitation cleaned up more than 34 tons of paper after the New York Giants of the National Football League had its Super Bowl victory parade in 2012. The department will deploy 400 extra sanitation employees to clear debris on Friday.
The parade will cost the city $1.5 million and will use $450,000 in private donations.
(Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Grant McCool and Lisa Lambert)