Cleveland Cavaliers' Championship Parade In Photos : The Two-Way The party's just beginning in the champion city, where people are celebrating the end of Cleveland's sports curse. Crowds were packed so tight, parade vehicles could barely move.
NPR logo PHOTOS: Hordes Of Fans Gather In Cleveland For Championship Parade

PHOTOS: Hordes Of Fans Gather In Cleveland For Championship Parade

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James cheers along with the crowd during a parade Wednesday in downtown Cleveland to celebrate the team's 2016 NBA championship. Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters hide caption

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Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James cheers along with the crowd during a parade Wednesday in downtown Cleveland to celebrate the team's 2016 NBA championship.

Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters

The celebrations in Cleveland started Sunday night, and the elation is still going strong.

The city is rejoicing at the end of a 52-year drought without a single major sports championship. LeBron James and the Cavaliers, of course, took home the NBA title on Sunday.

Crowds spontaneously gathered in the streets after the big win. More hordes of people met the Cavs when they arrived from California by plane. And on Wednesday, the city held a midday parade — one that people started gathering for on Tuesday.

Misty Swegle (left) and Charlesetta Hawkins wave at passing motorists during rush hour on Tuesday in downtown Cleveland from their spot along the parade route for the city's celebration of the Cavaliers. Gene J. Puskar/AP hide caption

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Gene J. Puskar/AP

Witnessing the end of the Cleveland curse has been downright religious for some fans.

"A lot of biblical references here," Mark Urycki of member station WCPN tells our Newscast unit, "when you talk about King James, who was known as the Chosen One, and then the Second Coming. ... To deliver this championship is something very special."

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert whipped up the crowd on Wednesday. Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters hide caption

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Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert whipped up the crowd on Wednesday.

Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters

Urycki says he spoke to a season-ticket holder from the suburbs who said that driving into town for the parade felt like a "pilgrimage."

"I talked to several people yesterday at the hotels telling me that it's all Clevelanders, Ohioans and just Cavs fans from around the country who are flying home just to be here for this parade, because they kind of want to be part of this shared experience," Urycki says. "It's very emotional for people."

Beautiful weather, plus high hometown emotions, fueled enormous turnout for the parade.

The Associated Press reports that the parade was slowed to a crawl by the sheer mass of people:

"Fans stood on rooftops, portable toilets and hung out of office building windows hoping to get a glimpse of James, who rode in a Rolls-Royce convertible with his wife, Savannah, and their three children. Near the start of the route and just feet from where his iconic, 10-stories-tall banner hangs, James stood and posed with his arms outstretched just as he does on the giant mural — life imitating art, the photo op of a lifetime.

"The parade's start was delayed more than 30 minutes because of the swarming crowd, which blocked the streets near Quicken Loans Arena and prevented the open-air vehicles that carried the Cavaliers from getting to the staging area. Police used patrol cars and a mounted horseback unit to slowly clear the congestion so the celebration could continue.

"The crowd was packed so tightly that fans could reach out and high-five their heroes."

How big of a deal is this parade?

Cleveland city courts — and this is true — are waiving fees and forgoing arrest warrants for anybody who misses a court date because he or she was at the celebration.

The AP notes that back in 1964, when Cleveland last won a major championship, there was no special city party.

Cleveland fans hang a sign from a parking garage across from the Quicken Loans Arena early Wednesday before the parade. Gene J. Puskar/AP hide caption

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Gene J. Puskar/AP

Cleveland fans hang a sign from a parking garage across from the Quicken Loans Arena early Wednesday before the parade.

Gene J. Puskar/AP

"After all, championships were routine," the wire service notes. The Browns had won seven titles from 1946 to 1955.

Decades later, things were very, very different.

"Cleveland was so desperate for a parade that the previous one held for a sports team came in 1995 after the Indians made it to the World Series for the first time since 1954," the AP writes. "They lost to Atlanta.

"A parade for second place."

But that was then. This is now.

And today, Cleveland's a city of champions.

Correction June 22, 2016

An earlier version of this story said the Browns won seven titles in nine years. They won seven titles from 1946 to 1955.