By Teresa Varley
Steelers.com It was hard to tell who was having more fun, the 350,000 fans gathered on the streets of downtown Pittsburgh, which was renamed "Sixburgh" by City Council for the day, or the players who were soaking in every bit of love and energy the fans gave them during the Super Bowl Celebration parade held on Tuesday.
"The parade was a great celebration of our championship," said Steelers president Art Rooney, II. "The fact that so many people can come into our city and celebrate in a safe, orderly but truly enjoyable way is a tribute to our city and county, the Mayor and his staff, the police and all of our public safety workers."
Players like Casey Hampton, Chris Hoke, James Farrior, Hines Ward and even head coach Mike Tomlin were among those who jumped out of their vehicles and walked part of the parade route, high fiving the fans and making those who stood in the freezing cold temperatures feel warm and fuzzy.
"It's fun to be able to come back and enjoy this whole thing with the fans," said defensive end Travis Kirschke. "They have been here the whole season, for years. It's an exciting day. I have never seen a fan base like the one the Steelers have. It's great."
Fans were everywhere, from the sidewalks to windows of office buildings and even in trees. But one of the most impressive sights was a parking garage along the Boulevard of the Allies that was packed level after level with Terrible Towel waving fans.
"It was the most unbelievable spectacle I have ever seen in my life," said center Justin Hartwig after the parade. "The Steeler Nation is truly that. It was like an entire nation of people in the streets. The support is overwhelming. When you see them out on the streets and waving their towels it's amazing. It's a testament to them and the city."
The parade route took the players, most of them in pickup trucks with their families, across Grant Street and then turned onto the Boulevard of the Allies. Fans packed the steps of the City-County Building, where a huge sign honored the Super Bowl Champions.
"Right now I am living a life-long dream," said running back Mewelde Moore, who along with Hartwig signed with the team as a free agent this offseason." I don't want to wake up. The Steelers fans are so strong. I am happy I am a part of it all. It's beautiful. I am embracing the moment and taking it all in. It was tremendous. I am so happy to be a part of it."
Safety Troy Polamalu and cornerback Ryan Clark jumped into the crowd to body surf, much to the pleasure of their teammates and the fans, but not the great security that sweated it out.
"It's awesome," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "This is when it starts to set in"
Santonio Holmes, with his MVP Trophy, and James Harrison, holding on to the Lombardi Trophy, were the last two players in the parade and the fans went crazy for both of them.
"This is one of the greatest things ever," said Holmes once he got back on the bus to head to the team's practice facility, still holding on to the trophy. "You can't ask for anything better than to be able to celebrate with the fans. For everyone to have our back and show up and support us was special. It will be in my history book.
"Hearing them chant MVP was very special. It was a work of art. It was a masterpiece put together by a collection of guys that symbolize this community. It was special for all of us."
At the end of the parade route the players and coaches took the stage where they addressed the crowd.
"What do you say to this?" said Tomlin to the cheering crowd. "Steeler Nation, you leave us all speechless, we just appreciate the love. How about the Steelers? How about the greatest fans in the world? How about number six? Thank you, we love you guys."
Some players danced on the stage, others just screamed to the crowd and at the end some of them did their own version of Renegade, minus knowing any of the lyrics to the song.
"It was insane," said offensive tackle Willie Colon. "I have never seen anything like it. I am from New York and have been to a couple of Yankees parades. I think this one beats it hands down. It was crazy. It was a beautiful site."