SAN FRANCISCO -- The ultimate team filed through the doors of City Hall one by one, displaying a mix of emotions.
Some Giants had tears in their eyes and others were still wide-eyed from a raucous parade down Market Street and a ceremony in front of hundreds of thousands jammed into the Civic Center.
A few were simply worn out after more than eight months of baseball, 178 games, two epic postseason comebacks and a World Series sweep of the Detroit Tigers that clinched the Giants' second title in three years.
"My shoulders are killing me," said Marco Scutaro, the MVP of the National League Championship Series. "I've never waved so much in my life. But it was worth it."
Scutaro, a free agent, is one of several key Giants with an uncertain future with the club. But Wednesday, there was little talk about the future. Players, team officials and fans were eager to relive a stunning run through October that culminated in an orange and black parade on Halloween.
The costumes and accessories were plentiful along the parade route, but the theme was anything but spooky. Thousands sported panda hats in honor of World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval, or wore long wigs to imitate Tim Lincecum, who had an up-and-down season but still gets the loudest cheers in this city.
There were old women wearing Buster Posey jerseys and young children yelling for Hunter Pence to give one of his trademark pre-game speeches. There was even a man dressed
"It was awesome, just awesome. To see the pure joy on faces was amazing," Pence said. "That's the ultimate motivator to do it again."
Pence will forever be remembered as the "reverend" of the 2012 championship club, and he punctuated a lengthy City Hall ceremony by leading the Giants in one last Rally Throng. As they did in the dugout before postseason games, players started with a slow clap and ended with a mosh pit, complete with a shower of sunflower seeds. The crowd roared on a day many wished would never end.
"We are a great example of this city," closer Sergio Romo said. "Different folks from different strokes. We all have a different story, but we had one goal, one job, one dream in mind."
Romo, proudly wearing a shirt that read, "I just look illegal," exited his convertible parade car at one point to greet fans who screamed, took photos, and held up signs with messages like "Dodgers fans are working today" and "San Francisco, Happiest Place on Earth."
San Francisco had a decidedly wilder atmosphere than Disneyland on Wednesday, but the day did come with a fairy-tale
Bennett wasn't the only surprise guest Wednesday. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith was the driver of Matt Cain's convertible, and first baseman Brandon Belt couldn't believe his eyes when he arrived at his car and found that 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was his driver.
"He was a good driver, he was smooth," said Belt, a native of Texas. "The only problem is I'm a Cowboys fan. I told him 'I'm a Cowboys fan, but I do like you all, too.' I hope the Niners win a Super Bowl."
If San Francisco's other team can follow the Giants' footsteps, Belt said he would return the favor.
"If they win a Super Bowl," Belt said, "I'll come back and maybe he'll let me drive his car."
Not all of the surprises were pleasant. Bruce Bochy displayed the World Series Trophy from the back seat of a Rolls-Royce, but the car ran out of gas as it approached City Hall. There was no putting a damper on this day, however, especially for Bochy, who was visibly exhausted after the postseason run but had a smile plastered across his face throughout.
"I thank you," Bochy said to Giants fans in front of City Hall and across the globe, "for making this one of the greatest moments of my life."