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Atlanta Lauds Its Champions

A city starved 30 years for a major pro sports title - and bracing for Olympic crowds next year - honored the world champion Atlanta Braves with a victory parade Monday that drew 600,000 tomahawk chopping fans on Peachtree Street.

With school kids and dark-suited executives alike playing hooky and packed 20 deep in some places, the Braves, perched atop a fleet of fire trucks, were greeted by a deafening roar of screams and chants.

Some office workers dangled out windows and poured confetti.

On the street, revelers scrambled for a good view by crowding into parking garages or climbing atop cement planters. Two construction workers stood on stilts, which they ordinarily use for ceiling work.

“We’ll work later,” said one of the construction workers, Bird Ethridge. “You’ve got to have your priorities.”

The celebration was a long time coming for fans who had suffered through years of losing seasons, punctuated by an occasional tease at success, until the Braves in 1991 began an ascent toward the World Series crown that finally was won Saturday night.

The Braves made it to the Series in 1991 and 1992, losing both times.

“We’ve been waiting so long,” said Carol Rutledge, who came with her children. “There was so much anticipation. It did bring people together, from all ethnic backgrounds, with one common goal.”

Until this decade, the Braves endured as not-so-lovable losers, finishing in last place or next to last 16 times since moving from Milwaukee in 1966.

The parade ended with a private party for the players at the stadium.

“It’s just a great way to end a great year, really,” said pitcher Tom Glavine, the Seriew MVP. “As players we’re proud of what we’ve done and, obviously, today the city is proud of what we’ve done too.”