Stepping like celebrities from a 32-foot white Hummer stretch limousine, Petaluma's Little League World Series team got a raucous welcome home Monday from about 1,500 people at the Petaluma fairgrounds.
Whoops, screams and cheers greeted the players as they walked down a red carpet, closely surrounded by a crowd of youngsters, parents and even great-grandparents.
"You guys are the bomb," player Danny Marzo yelled into the microphone from a stage on the fairgrounds' grassy concourse.
The Petaluma National team, champions of the West, flew home Monday, a day after claiming third place in the 66th Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa.
Their plane was greeted with a water-cannon salute by two San Francisco fire trucks, creating an arch of water over the plane.
Five Petaluma police motorcycles, with lights flashing, escorted the limo onto the fairgrounds.
"I am speechless. I have no clue what to say at all," player Quinton Gago said. "We thank every one of you."
Team manager Eric Smith also complimented the crowd, estimated by a fairgrounds official at 1,500, for its support.
"This is an incredible showing," Smith said. "As coaches we couldn't be more proud of what these kids did, how far they took this team and this community."
The team has been on the road for nearly four weeks, advancing through the regional tournament in San Bernardino and then flying directly to Pennsylvania for the World Series, which was televised nationally on ABC and ESPN's networks.
"What a run," coach Mike Slate told the crowd, with three TV crews on the scene. "We couldn't have done it without you."
The players, wearing their green and yellow jerseys and caps, were introduced on the stage during a 10-minute ceremony.
Afterwards, Gago signed baseballs and recalled being besieged by autograph requests at the series. "I felt like a pro," he said.
Porter Slate said he was amazed by the welcome and admitted to an unexpected feeling upon returning home. "I miss my sister," he said.
In the crowd, Ryan Ramos, 11, carried a sign that said: "Congrats PNLL. So Proud!"
Ramos played with three of the Petaluma National all-stars — Gago, Logan Douglas and Blake Buhrer — during the regular season.
"They're pretty cool," he said.
"Oh my gosh, we're just just proud beyond words," said his mother, Amy Ramos. "It's so great. The whole community has come together."
Walt and Arleen Jacobsen, the grandparents of Eric Smith and great-grandparents of his player and son Hance Smith, joined the throng.
"They're a great team," Walt Jacobsen said. "This is completely unexpected."
Petaluma National was the first Sonoma County Little League team to get to Williamsport.
They finished 5-2 in the series, losing a 40-run, extra-inning heartbreaker 24-16 to Goodlettsville, Tenn. on Saturday, but rebounding with 12-4 win over Panama in Sunday's consolation game.
"Second in the United States; third in the world," declared Steph Clahan, who attended the series with her husband and grandson and arrived home at 2:30 a.m. Monday. "You can't get too much better than that."
On Tuesday, it's back to school for the players, after 27 days on the road.
"It might be the best day ever at school," Austin Paretti said.
Petaluma's adulation will resume Sunday, with a parade for the team at 1 p.m. though downtown Petaluma, following the route of the annual Butter & Egg Days parade.