Blue-clad and buzzing with 30 years' worth of pent up anticipation, Royals' fans began gathering in downtown Kansas City hours before the official start of Tuesday's World Series victory parade.
Though they were here to cheer on the team that brought their city its first World Series title since the Reagan era, they also clearly drew a deeper meaning from the experience.
"There are a lot of things that divide us in this city, but this brings us together," said Rob Shaffer, who came with his wife from Overland Park. "It's pretty awesome to be a part of this larger group. For the city, the team, the franchise, this is just awesome."
Many parents toted their small Royals fans in strollers and carriers. Liz Meidel, a Ph.D. student at the University of Kansas, brought her two daughters. Cora--her youngest--perched on her shoulders.
"I just hope she remembers the sense of community, you know? The sense of being part of something bigger than herself."
Even teenagers at the parade, typically a bit more skeptical of such genuine civic enthusiasm, couldn't help but feed off the positive vibes of the crowd.
"I've had no experience of 'Blue October' until the past two years, and its' been great. We came here to support the Royals," said Josh (who didn't want to reveal his last name because he attended one of the few private schools in the metro that did not excuse their students from classes.)
Downtown businesses also were seeing the civic pride in their rising bottom lines for the day.
Jeremy Lane owns the new Homesteader Cafe on 6th Street and Walnut, a few blocks from the parade route.
"In most of October we had maybe one table a night, almost guaranteed. Today, I'd say we've had 100 people come through just this morning," Lane said, as he busily flipped bison burgers on the grill in the kitchen.
The general atmosphere of the parade, at least before it began, reflected the comments heard along the route. A positive, fun-loving crowd was on hand, eagerly waiting to see their diamond heroes drive by. Yet another chance to feel a part of the Kansas City community.