The Washington Nationals took a well-deserved victory lap around the District on Saturday as fans decked out in Nats gear roared and waved "Fight Finished" signs during a parade and rally.
Days after the team pulled off a World Series victory that brought the Nats their first-ever championship title, Nats first baseman Ryan Zimmerman hoisted the Commissioner's Trophy high above the huge crowd of cheering fans.
"We just felt it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Bridget Chapin of Burke, Virginia, of attending the celebrations.
Crowds deeply packed the parade route along Constitution and Pennsylvania avenues NW, displaying a sea of red Nats gear, ball caps and beanies — as well as shark fins and even some impressive homemade Racing Presidents costumes.
Nick Hashimoto of Dulles, Virginia, was among those who arrived at 5 a.m. to snag a front-row spot for the parade. He brought his own baby shark toy in honor of backup outfielder Gerardo Parra's walk-up song, which began as a parental tribute to the musical taste of his 2-year-old daughter and ended up as a rallying cry that united spectators at Nationals Park and his teammates.
As "Baby Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo" played on a crisp morning, early risers joined in with the trademark response — arms extended in a chomping motion.
"I've met all these people today. I've got new friends," said Kimberly Ballou of Silver Spring, Maryland.
After an F-16 flyover kicked off the parade, the Racing Presidents rolled along on bicycles, and the Nationals waved red rally towels atop red double-decker buses. Pitcher Max Scherzer performed "Baby Shark" dance moves with his toddler daughter, and a truck showered fans with red confetti.
General Manager Mike Rizzo, a cigar in his mouth, jumped off with the World Series trophy to show the fans lining the barricades and slap high-fives. Manager Dave Martinez also got in on the fun.
So did Jeff Adams, the "Bud Light guy" made famous after taking a homerun ball to the chest while managing to hang onto the beer can in each hand during Game 5 of the World Series. Within 48 hours, Budweiser had featured him in a nationally televised ad. Adams was seen during the Nats parade atop his own red double-decker bus.
Along the parade route, attendees were happy to tick off their favorite moments from the World Series:
— "Howie Kendrick's home run off of the foul pole."
— "My dad telling me to leave the room so I don't give bad vibes."
— "Waking up the whole dorm after Rendon hit that home run after the bad Turner call."
— "I love when Davey rushed out of that dugout to fight for his team."
— "All the home runs, all the hits."
Reliving the highlights and caught up in Saturday's over-the-top excitement, fans roared and chanted, "Let's go, Nats!" and cheered for their favorite players.
"We have a good-sized crowd here," D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said Saturday, adding that he thought attendance might be close to that of the Washington Capitals' victory parade last year.
"No problems whatsoever," Newsham added. "This is celebratory. You know how Washington, D.C., celebrates. They just have a good time, and they behave, which is what I love."
D.C. police made just one arrest Saturday, taking into custody a man accused of possessing an open container and assaulting an officer.
Mayor Muriel Bowser celebrated the team's big win during the rally that followed the parade.
"This championship was delivered by a team that is a true representation of D.C.," she said to the cheering crowd. "They don't give up; they dance with joy, and they believe in each other."
Bowser said: "We are deeply proud of you and I think we should do it again next year. What do you think?" She then started a chant of "Back to back! Back to back!"
Martinez said he liked to hear the mayor pushing for back-to-back championships, and said: "I get it. I'm all in. But let me enjoy this one first. I don't know if my heart can take any more of this right now. I need to just step back and enjoy this."
Martinez, who had a heart procedure recently, said that during the Series, fans were shouting at him: "'Your heart, Davey; your heart, Davey!' .... All this has cured my heart."
Nationals owner Ted Lerner told the crowd that even though it took 95 years, "this was worth the wait."
And he played off the "Baby Shark" theme once more, saying "From now on, you can call me Grandpa Shark."
Saturday's events celebrated the Nats' championship victory and a hard-fought comeback: Washington had the worst 50-game start of any team to win the World Series in baseball history.
But they made it to a Wild Card game, then beat the Brewers. After knocking out the L.A. Dodgers and then sweeping the Cardinals, the Nats went on to win their first two games of the Fall Classic.
Still, the fight wasn't over yet: Nats fans held their collective breath after the team lost all three home games of the World Series. Now, fans can laugh off those low points. The Nats always held up to their post-season rallying cry, #StayInTheFight.
"When they tell you dreams come true, point them toward our @Nationals," Bowser tweeted Thursday. "Tell them they do."
Pat Collins contributed to this report.