‘We are the District of Champions’: Thousands pack DC for Nationals celebration

November 2, 2019

Decked out in signature red, curly Ws and, yes, shark fins, thousands of fans streamed to downtown D.C. to give the Washington Nationals a jubilant hero’s welcome after their 2019 World Series win.

The victory parade kicked off at 2 p.m. as open-air double-decker buses carrying team members cruised down Constitution Avenue along the north side of the National Mall, culminating in a rally on Pennsylvania Avenue where players, coaches and other dignitaries gave elated and emotional speeches to a sea of red-clad fans.

“We are the District of Champions,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said, adding: “This championship was delivered by a team that is a true representation of D.C. They don’t give up. They dance with joy and they believe in each other.” Referencing their underdog standing going into the postseason, she added, “This team went away and won four games in the World Series with grit, determination and a whole lot of fun.”

Manager Dave Martinez pulled his players up to flank behind him when he was called on to deliver a speech. “While I talk right here, I want my boys up here, too,” he said.

He thanked the enthusiastic fans who packed Nationals Park for watch parties as the battled the Astros on their home turf in Houston. “You know that means to us when we’re trying to play and stay in the fight?” he said. “That was huge.”

Mentioning his outburst at an umpire after a controversial call in Game 6, which resulted in his ejection from the game, he said: “You don’t have to tell me to stay in the fight. I’m gonna fight. I’m gonna stick up for these boys because they stuck up for me all year long.”

After a shaky start in the spring, there were calls for the team to sack Martinez as manager.

“They were shoveling dirt on him in May,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said of Martinez during the rally Saturday. “Now look at him: He’s the world champ.”

A Washington Nationals fan awaits the start of the parade on Constitution Avenue, beneath a behemoth American flag hoisted by two D.C. fire engines. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
A Washington Nationals fan awaits the start of the parade, beneath an American flag hoisted by two D.C. fire engines. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
A Washington Nationals fan mocks the departure of Bryce Harper for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2018, one year prior to Nationals' first World Series victory. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
A Washington Nationals fan mocks the departure of Bryce Harper for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2018. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
Nationals fans mingle along Constitution Avenue an hour prior to the beginning of the parade on a cold but sunny fall afternoon in downtown D.C. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
Nationals fans mingle along Constitution Avenue on a cold, but sunny fall afternoon in downtown D.C. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
Nationals fans mingle along Constitution Avenue an hour prior to the beginning of the parade on a cold but sunny fall afternoon in downtown D.C. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
Nationals fans mingle along Constitution Avenue on a cold, but sunny fall afternoon in downtown D.C. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
Nationals fans cheer the beginning the team's first-ever victory parade for a World Series title. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
Nationals fans cheer the team’s first-ever victory parade for a World Series title. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
A Nationals fan sits atop a sign for the Smithsonian Museum of American History on Constitution Avenue. Fans mounted signs, ledges, power boxes and, on occassion, climbed street lights for a view above the dense crowd. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
A Nationals fan sits atop a sign for the Smithsonian Museum of American History on Constitution Avenue. Fans mounted signs, ledges, power boxes and, on occassion, climbed street lights for a view above the dense crowd. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
Nationals fans cheer the passing of the Commissioner's Trophy along Constitution Avenue. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
Nationals fans cheer the passing of the Commissioner’s Trophy along Constitution Avenue. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
A group of children cheer the Nationals on their victory lap through Washington near the National Archives on Constitution Avenue. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
A group of children cheer the Nationals on their victory lap through Washington, near the National Archives on Constitution Avenue. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
Over the course of two hours, the Washington Nationals paraded down Constitution Avenue in a number of double-decker buses during a celebration of D.C.’s first World Series title in generations. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
Nationals fans welcome the hometown heroes back to D.C. during their victory parade on Nov. 2, 2019. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
A child waves his Nationals cap at passing players across the street from the National Archive. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
With space near the barricades on Constitution Avenue virtually all taken, Nationals fans took to every available high spot for a view of their team. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
Nationals fans gathered along Constitution Avenue between the Smithsonian Museum of American History and Federal Triangle. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
Confetti covers the crowd gathered for the Washington Nationals parade celebrating their World Series victory over the Houston Astros on November 2, 2019 in Washington, D.C. This is the first World Series win for the Nationals in 95 years. (Getty Images/Stefani Reynolds)
Fans watch players as they’re honored on stage at the Washington Nationals victory celebration. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
A sea of red as fans gather in downtown D.C. for the Nats’ World Series parade. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, left, and manager Dave Martinez hold up the NLCS trophy, left, and World Series trophy before a parade to celebrate the team’s World Series baseball championship over the Houston Astros, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (AP/Patrick Semansky)
Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez, left, and general manager Mike Rizzo, right, pose with Sidney Walton, age 100, after showing him the World Series and NLCS trophies before a parade to celebrate the team’s World Series baseball championship over the Houston Astros, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Washington. (AP/Patrick Semansky)
A sea of red as fans gather in downtown D.C. for the Nats’ World Series parade. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Washington Nationals left fielder Juan Soto, center, celebrates with teammates before a parade to celebrate the team’s World Series baseball championship over the Houston Astros, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Washington. (AP/Patrick Semansky)
Washington Nationals second baseman Howie Kendrick gestures to fans before a parade to celebrate the team’s World Series baseball championship over the Houston Astros, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (AP/Patrick Semansky)
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer signs autographs for fans before a parade to celebrate the team’s World Series baseball championship over the Houston Astros, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Washington. (AP/Patrick Semansky)
It’s not a party on the mall until someone climbs a tree. (WTOP/Mitch Miller)
Some Nats fans are still holding a little bit of a grudge towards that whole Bryce Harper situation. (WTOP/Mitchell Miller)
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) arrives for a parade to celebrate the team’s World Series baseball championship over the Houston Astros, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Washington. (AP/Patrick Semansky)
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer waves to fans before a parade to celebrate the team’s World Series baseball championship over the Houston Astros, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (AP/Patrick Semansky)
Fans gather as the Washington Nationals hold a parade to celebrate their World Series victory over the Houston Astros on November 2, 2019 in Washington, DC. This is the first World Series win for the Nationals in 95 years. (Getty Images/Stefani Reynolds)
Fans wait for the MLB Washington Nationals to celebrate the team’s World Series baseball championship over the Houston Astros, in Washington, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. The Washington Nationals are getting a hero’s welcome home from a city that had been thirsting for a World Series championship for nearly a century.(AP Photo/Cliff Owen) (AP/Cliff Owen)
A couple gets engaged as fans gather for the Washington Nationals parade to celebrate their World Series victory over the Houston Astros on November 2, 2019 in Washington, DC. This is the first World Series win for the Nationals in 95 years. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images) (Getty Images/Stefani Reynolds)
Fans gather as the Washington Nationals hold a parade to celebrate their World Series victory over the Houston Astros on November 2, 2019 in Washington, DC. This is the first World Series win for the Nationals in 95 years. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images) (Getty Images/Stefani Reynolds)
Fans gather as the Washington Nationals hold a parade to celebrate their World Series victory over the Houston Astros on November 2, 2019 in Washington, DC. This is the first World Series win for the Nationals in 95 years. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images) (Getty Images/Stefani Reynolds)
Fans gather as the Washington Nationals hold a parade to celebrate their World Series victory over the Houston Astros on November 2, 2019 in Washington, DC. This is the first World Series win for the Nationals in 95 years. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images) (Getty Images/Stefani Reynolds)
Will (in the baby shark costume) and family on the Orange Line train to the Nats parade. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
People along the parade route ahead of Nats
Mark from Lake Ridge is happy to the Nationals finished the fight. Now he’s ready for the parade. (WTOP/John Domen )
Fans of all ages turned out to celebrate their team’s incredible World Series victory. (WTOP/Melissa Howell)
The parade buses are all decked out for the Nats’ big day. (WTOP/Melissa Howell)
This lucky couple got engaged while at the Nats’ victory parade. Congrats from us at WTOP! (WTOP/Lisa Weiner)
She said yes! (WTOP/Lisa Weiner)
Maybe Baby Shark will be their wedding song. (WTOP/Lisa Weiner)
Fans wait for the start of the MLB Washington Nationals celebration of the team’s World Series baseball championship over the Houston Astros, in Washington, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. The Washington Nationals are getting a hero’s welcome home from a city that had been thirsting for a World Series championship for nearly a century.(AP Photo/Cliff Owen) (AP/Cliff Owen)
Crowds gather at 3rd and Pennsylvania Ave. ahead of the Nats’ parade. (WTOP/Lisa Weiner)
Need a better view? Find a friend with strong shoulders. (WTOP/Lisa Weiner)
People begin the search for a good spot before the parade kicks off at 2 p.m. (WTOP/Lisa Weiner)
Amanda Gaffrey of Brambleton, Virginia, snaps selfies with her family ahead of the parade. (Courtesy Amanda Gaffrey)
A young fan shows off her Nats pride while waiting for the parade to begin. (Courtesy Amanda Gaffrey)
Grace and Cameron Gaffrey of Brambleton, Virginia, hold up #FightFinished signs. (Courtesy Amanda Gaffrey)
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A Washington Nationals fan awaits the start of the parade on Constitution Avenue, beneath a behemoth American flag hoisted by two D.C. fire engines. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
A Washington Nationals fan mocks the departure of Bryce Harper for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2018, one year prior to Nationals' first World Series victory. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
Nationals fans mingle along Constitution Avenue an hour prior to the beginning of the parade on a cold but sunny fall afternoon in downtown D.C. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
Nationals fans mingle along Constitution Avenue an hour prior to the beginning of the parade on a cold but sunny fall afternoon in downtown D.C. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
Nationals fans cheer the beginning the team's first-ever victory parade for a World Series title. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
A Nationals fan sits atop a sign for the Smithsonian Museum of American History on Constitution Avenue. Fans mounted signs, ledges, power boxes and, on occassion, climbed street lights for a view above the dense crowd. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
Nationals fans cheer the passing of the Commissioner's Trophy along Constitution Avenue. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
A group of children cheer the Nationals on their victory lap through Washington near the National Archives on Constitution Avenue. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)
People along the parade route ahead of Nats

Parade full of memorable moments

The team’s victory lap through downtown D.C. earlier in the day was full of memorable moments.

Roaring crowds intermittently broke out into the unofficial team anthem of “Baby Shark” as they greeted many of the buses carrying players. That included the bus carrying outfielders Adam Eaton and Gerardo Parra, the latter of whom started the “Baby Shark” craze when he chose the kid-friendly ditty as his walk-up music to please his young daughter.

Starting pitcher Max Scherzer, alongside his wife and children, was later spotted performing the trademark Baby Shark chomp from the top of his bus, before he clambered atop the bus holding up a special Nats-themed WWE champion’s belt for the crowd.

Atop his bus, shortstop Trea Turner popped the cork on a bottle of Champagne during a live interview with NBC Washington. “It just never ends. There’s people for miles and miles,” he said, surveying the crowd. “It’s incredible.”

Relief pitcher and noted Star Wars fan Sean Doolittle flashed his lightsaber for the crowd.

Photos posted to the Nationals official Twitter account show the moment Martinez jumped off his bus to take a picture with a World War II veteran celebrating his 100th birthday.

The Nationals’ victory against the Houston Astros marked D.C.’s first World Series win since 1924.

Crowds began gathering downtown early Saturday morning to claim prime spots along the parade route. Two fans decked out in Nats gear even got engaged amid the jubilant crowds waiting for the parade to start.

Nationals team members began arriving in buses about an hour before the parade began, wearing the lucky navy-blue threads they started wearing as they first started steamrolling to victory in the postseason.

There were some logistical challenges for travelers. Heavy crowds temporarily closed Metro’s National Archives stop a few different times Saturday afternoon.There was at least one arrest after an exuberant fan stripped naked along the parade route. He was quickly surrounded by police.

See some of the most memorable moments from the parade on WTOP’s liveblog below:


MORE NATS WORLD SERIES COVERAGE


WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez, Neal Augenstein, John Domen, Melissa Howell and Rob Woodfork contributed to this report.

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