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Giants return home to heroes’ welcome

(MCT) — SAN FRANCISCO — Thousands of San Francisco Giants fans too eager to wait for Wednesday’s victory parade welcomed home their World Series champions Monday, cheering and high-fiving the players as the team fresh from Detroit landed at SFO, then made a brief stop at AT&T Park to hoist their trophy.

“We love you!” fans shouted when the chartered plane landed at San Francisco International Airport on Monday afternoon, with fire hoses sending a watery welcome into the sky.

Series MVP Pablo Sandoval, who belted three home runs in the first game against Detroit that set the tone for the four-game sweep, was one of the first to descend the stairs of the chartered plane, grinning and waving to the crowd. After players and family members made their way to the stadium in several chartered buses, Sandoval carried the World Series trophy into the throng of fans before handing it off to another fan favorite, pitcher Sergio Romo.

Many of those die-hards will be lining the streets of downtown San Francisco at 11 a.m. Wednesday for the parade to celebrate the Giants second title in three years. It starts at the foot of Market Street near the Ferry Building and ends at City Hall. Fans are encouraged to take public transportation. BART, Caltrain, Muni and ferries will be adding extra service Wednesday morning. Commuters should buy their transit tickets at the stations a day early to avoid long lines.

“We are expecting at least the crowds we saw back in 2010 that were pretty massive, somewhere around a million plus,” said Mary Currie, spokeswoman with the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District. “With all the excitement, we expect to see the same or increased levels of interest in the parade and ceremonies.”

Mayor Ed Lee’s office wasn’t answering questions Monday about whether Hurricane Sandy’s destructive path on the East Coast could force the city to consider delaying the Giants celebration.

Some fans on Monday just couldn’t wait to show the Giants a little loyalty and love.

At AT&T Park on Monday afternoon, several thousand fans blew horns and held signs and cameras as the team made a pit stop at Willie Mays Plaza. Like kids at a swimming pool party, fans shouted “Marco!” and waited for others to shout back “Scuatro!” to honor the Giants’ standout second baseman.

Courtney Cookson, 28, of San Mateo slept in her car overnight outside the stadium to make sure she didn’t miss the triumphant return.

“It was worth it,” said Cookson, wearing her Giants garb, right down to orange earrings. “I would do it again in a heartbeat just to welcome them home.”

Mel Catubig, 39, of San Francisco, wore her lucky Tim Lincecum jersey as a handful of players mixed with the crowd. “This shirt is completely dirty,” she said, “because we had our mojo and didn’t want to wash it.”

Catubig said she is conflicted about whether to bring her two children to the parade Wednesday because they would miss their school Halloween parade. So she made an extra effort to welcome the team home Monday.

Her 12-year-old daughter, Daniela, wearing an orange “Panda” hat to honor Sandoval, turned to her mother and asked, “Can they win again next year?”

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