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Rockies fans party in streets

Rockies fans party in streets of Denver

DENVER -- Before the first champagne cork flew in the Rockies' clubhouse following their pennant-clinching sweep of the Diamondbacks in the National League Championship Series on Monday, the city's celebration was jump-started at the intersection of Blake and 20th St.

Denver sports fans hadn't had this much reason to celebrate since the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in 2001, and from Wynkoop to Colfax, from Speer Blvd. to the newly named Rockies Road, the streets were filled with hooting, hollering and a gauntlet of high-fiving brooms.

Rich Levin left Coors Field carrying a colorful sign proclaiming the night's ultimate truth: "The Rockies are going to the World Series!" He carried it quietly, letting the statement carry the emotion that others lost lungs over.

"I made it about 3:30 this afternoon," he said. "But I didn't pull it out until it was over. I'm superstitious."

With little left to jinx, there was barely time to bask in the moment before fans got swept up in anticipation of the World Series kickoff a week from Wednesday in the American League city. Outside the ballpark, an entrepreneurial vendor was already selling World Series ticket holders, barely keeping up with the demand of fans who couldn't wait to gear up.

"I can't believe it, I'm in shock," said one dazed fan, wrapped in a Rockies blanket and perched in an alcove on the Coors Field façade some four feet above the street.

"Is it really happening?" asked one of a handful of broom-bearers who affectionately slapped "The Player" statue in front of Coors Field with their brooms, inaugurating a new Denver baseball tradition.

"Jeepers, creepers, where'd you get those sweepers?" sang another fan as he wove his way through what seemed an endless sea of street cleaners pouring through LoDo.

Though the impromptu party rocked the city, the celebration was largely without incident. Paramedics did attend to a man on Blake St. who had the city's fist documented broom injury, suffering a laceration to the scalp as a broom crashed onto his head amidst the exuberance.

"We got back out here after the game, and there were people jumping on a cop car," said Glen Martinez, after watching Rockies fans cluster in the middle of 20th St., brooms in hand, howling in ecstasy as the riot squad lined up across 20th St. on Blake. "I think they broke it. It was nuts, man."

"Brooms were flying," added Mary Williams.

The riot squad marched up 20th St. from Coors Field, sweeping the streets of the Rockies' revelers. But though fans fled in apprehension as the ominous-looking line moved toward them, members of the squad stated that it was a routine exercise, and that there had been minimal trouble.

"It was crazy, right in the middle of the intersection, brooms everywhere, people yelling, 'Sweep, sweep, sweep!'" Matt Barts explained of the giddy gathering that stopped traffic on 20th St. for well over a half hour.

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"I haven't seen anything blow up yet," added Amber Barts.

One officer with 22 years on the force under his belt declared the downtown Denver celebration "as loud as any," but uneventful, "no fires, no windows," and as one celebrant added, "no tear gas."

Though the festivities waned in intensity with each block removed from Coors Field, cars kept honking up and down every street, and an instant camaraderie was formed among any purple-clad pedestrians, while those bearing brooms greeted each other like long-lost blood brothers.

For many fans, the celebration of the Rockies' first pennant and the surge to the World Series was a culmination of 15 years of faith and frustration, and they sounded a collective barbaric yawp throughout Denver's vibrant downtown.

"I can't believe they won a pennant on my birthday," said transplanted Bostonian Tim Scott, letting the magnitude of the moment take him perilously close to blaspheming the BoSox, down two games to one to the Indians in the ALCS. "I'd almost rather the Sox don't make it, so I can root for the Rockies without any misgivings."

The celebration was city-wide, extending for miles beyond LoDo as passengers madly flapped their rally towels to speed them down Speer Blvd. toward Cherry Creek. Five miles farther, alongside Washington Park, cars shook brooms out their windows and were greeted with gargantuan purple wigs shaking out of pickup trucks, horns honking in limitless jubilation.

"We're going to the World Series!" came the cry, echoing through the streets of Denver, the unimaginable becoming real on a night that knew no end.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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