Thousands of super fans from across the country descended on the Canyon of Heroes, where the U.S. women's national soccer team was feted for the second time with a confetti parade through the heart of New York City.
Revelers were seen lining Broadway, between the Battery and City Hall, in the pre-dawn hours, well ahead of Wednesday's 9:30 a.m. parade start. Just before the grand kickoff, the U.S. players hugged each other as they got on their colorful float, Megan Rapinoe sipping from a glass of champagne with a smile.
Later, cheers erupted and flags waved en masse as the world champions launched into their victory parade, taking plenty of selfies along the way and vaulting at least one bottle of champagne into the crowd. Rapinoe, the squad's co-captain, struck her now-famous victory pose as goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher held the World Cup trophy aloft for all to see. People were seen flinging huge amounts of shredded paper from buildings as golden confetti rained down on the parade route, showering the champs and spectators alike.
Chants of "USA! USA! USA!" were drowned out only by the U.S. women's cries for "Equal pay! Equal pay! Equal pay!"
The festivities come four years to the day that crowds tossed heaps of confetti in the city to celebrate the team and its 2015 Women's World Cup title. This year, fans were clamoring to get a glimpse of the 2019 women's world cup heroes including Alex Morgan, Rose Lavelle, Carli Lloyd, Tobin Heath, Ali Krieger, Kelly O'Hara, Ashlyn Harris and Jill Ellis.
The repeat champs beat the Netherlands 2-0 on Sunday to win this year's Women's World Cup -- and New York City, which bestowed the first-ever ticker-tape parade on a women's team four years ago, recognized them in epic fashion once again.
The party then moved to City Hall, where Mayor de Blasio honored the team with symbolic keys to the city. All tickets for the City Hall ceremony were issued within 30 seconds after the free passes became available Monday.
The team started celebrating its record fourth Women's World Cup title the moment it landed at Newark Liberty International Airport Monday. Players shared a champagne toast and sang "We Are the Champions."
Two of the 23 players are native New Yorkers. Allie Long, a midfielder from Northport, posted on Twitter about returning to her home state.
"NEW YORK: To be back home to celebrate with you all will be an honor," she wrote.
The players have helped lead the global push for gender equality in the workplace, suing the U.S. Soccer Federation in March for gender discrimination and alleging they are paid less than the men's team. At the final whistle of the final game of the tournament in Lyon, France, fans chanted "Equal Pay!"
On Wednesday, at the parade, Gov. Cuomo signed into law a bill that expands equal pay laws for all substantially similar work in New York state, saying, "There is no rationale why women should not get paid what men get paid. These are women's soccer players, they play the same game as the men's soccer players, and they play it better -- so if there is any economic rationale, the men should get paid less than the women."
A day earlier, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, introduced a bill that would bar federal funding for the men's 2026 World Cup until the U.S. Soccer Federation provides equal pay to the women's and men's teams.
Rapinoe accepted an invitation for the team to visit Congress, but has said she won't celebrate at the White House even if invited by President Donald Trump.