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Red Sox pitchers Jonathan Papelbon, right, and Mike Timlin, left, dance in Boston's Copley Square on Tuesday. ((Elise Amendola/Associated Press))

Tens of thousands of Red Sox fans lined the streets from Fenway Park to City Hall on Tuesday to cheer Boston's second World Series title in four years, and celebrate how a team once known for losing was again baseball's best.

"People lived and died before they saw a world championship and we've seen two in the last four years," said Providence College student Mike Foley.

Red Sox players and their families boarded amphibious, Second World War-era duck boats outside the stadium for a five-kilometre journey through the city.

Screaming fans greeted them as they climbed into the 20 brightly coloured boats normally used for tourists.

Each boat was labelled with the names of the players on board.

The parade followed a similar route to the rolling celebration staged after the Red Sox broke an 86-year World Series drought in 2004 by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Red Sox completed a sweep of the Colorado Rockies on Sunday with a 4-3 win in Denver.

Mark Rinaldi, a student at Harvard, said he attended the 2004 parade and "I never thought I'd be able to do it again in my lifetime. To do it twice is pretty incredible."

Most of the players and manager Terry Francona wore bright red hooded championship sweatshirts.

First baseman Kevin Youkilis wore a T-shirt that said "We did it AGAIN." Many of the players took photos or video recordings of the fans along the way.

Owner John Henry, wearing an argyle grey sweater, tapped his hand on his heart in thanks as he waved to fans from a lead boat, which also carried the new World Series trophy.

The parade was set to slow down at Copley Square, Boston Common and City Hall Plaza, where closer Jonathan Papelbon has promised to do his infamous Irish jig to I'm Shipping Up to Boston.

He was being accompanied by the Dropkick Murphys, a Boston-based punk rock band with heavy Irish folk music influence.

The band presented Papelbon with his own kilt before the parade — plus one for ace Josh Beckett and general manager Theo Epstein, who promised to dance with him.

They also made a kilt for slugger David Ortiz, whom they hoped to coax into the jig.

Reliever Mike Timlin tied their bullpen mascot, a parrot, onto one of the speakers on the Dropkick Murphys' flatbed.

Six members of Boston's bullpen recreated their post-season jam sessions on another boat.

Fans decked out in Red Sox gear lined the route, holding signs and cheering for the team.

Some couldn't resist a shot at the archrival New York Yankees and former Red Sox star Johnny Damon, who defected to New York after the 2004 championship.

"Johnny Damon is home changing diapers," read one sign. "This is better."

Another fan held a sign that said, "A-Rod: Mr. April, Miss October."

There were some indications Boston fans might even be getting picky about their championships, with 2004 and 2007 coming when the Sox were on the road.

Ortiz said a fan asked him when the team was going to win a World Series at Fenway.

"I told him, 'Dude, it doesn't matter where you win it, as long as you win it,"' Ortiz said.

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said before the parade that he could not choose which Series win he liked better.

"They're two flavours of ice cream — they both taste good," he said. You can't choose among them.

"I think the next one is going to taste good, too."

Mayor Thomas Menino acknowledged having the celebration on a weekday would inconvenience some businesses and keep schoolchildren away, but said players were eager to get home to their families and begin their vacation.

This year's parade had one significant difference from the 2004 parade: it did not proceed into the Charles River.

Menino said that decision was made by the team.

Menino also said a "rolling rally" was easier for city officials to manage, because it spread out the crowds.

He estimated security would cost $500,000 US.