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July 10, 2015

Thousands gather in N.Y to celebrate women's World Cup win

First ticker tape parade to ever honor a women's sports team

Thousands jammed New York City's "Canyon of Heroes" on Friday to celebrate with the players and coaches of the United States women's soccer team for winning the World Cup, the first ticker tape parade ever honoring a women's sports team.

Waving American flags, a crowd thick with girls decked out in soccer socks and star-spangled headbands cheered the athletes along the parade route in lower Manhattan.

"It's not just a win for them, it's a win for all female athletes," said Tori Klevan, 18, who came from Philadelphia with her fellow soccer players and started a group chant of "I believe that we just won."

Her friends, including Madison Dawkins, 18, wore red, white and blue hats and waved a cutout of the champion team midfielder Megan Rapinoe.

"It's very important to us — seeing women in the spotlight for once," Dawkins said.

The victorious women's team joins the ranks of Apollo astronauts, foreign monarchs and baseball's New York Yankees in being honored with a parade and a granite marker on Broadway in lower Manhattan.

"This team captured the imagination of the nation," said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press conference on the eve of the procession. "Their victory, I think, sends a message about the strength of women, the power of women, and the changes that we need in our society."

The United States defeated Japan 5-2 in the FIFA Women's World Cup final on Sunday in Vancouver, Canada, the third time the U.S. women have won the title of world champions.

The last woman athlete to be honored with a ticker-tape parade was Olympic figure skating champion Carol Heiss Jenkins in 1960.

The 23 U.S. team members and their coaches will ride on a decorated vehicle, or float, north toward City Hall from the southern tip of Manhattan with the Statue of Liberty at their back on a route lined with towering office buildings.

The New York tradition began in 1886, when people who worked in skyscrapers threw ticker tape - ribbons of white paper on which stock information was recorded in those days - onto a parade celebrating the dedication of the Statue of Liberty.

With stock information now computerized, ticker tape has been replaced with shredded office paper and confetti. On Thursday, the Downtown Alliance neighborhood group delivered about two tons of shredded paper to more than 50 buildings and tenants along the parade route, a fraction of the paper that will be used.

The City of New York Department of Sanitation cleaned up more than 34 tons of paper after the New York Giants of the National Football League had its Super Bowl victory parade in 2012. The department will deploy 400 extra sanitation employees to clear debris on Friday.

The parade will cost the city $1.5 million and will use $450,000 in private donations.

"It’s called the Canyon of Heroes for good reason. The visual is stunning," said Downtown Alliance President Jessica Lappin. "To have a parade in your honor, it’s the ultimate distinction."

(Reporting by Katie Reilly; Editing by Grant McCool and Lisa Lambert)