Tens of thousands of people decked out in the team's holiday-appropriate orange and black stood 30 deep behind barriers, climbed trees, camped out overnight and mounted rooftops for a chance to see their favourite players wave from convertibles and get serenaded by Tony Bennett singing "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."
Giants Manager Bruce Bochy, who hoisted the World Series trophy from the back of a gold Rolls Royce during most of the 1 1/2-mile procession, credited fans and his players' "unselfish play" for helping to lift San Francisco to its second World Series victory in three years, an improbable double play for a franchise that had not won the title since 1954.
"In 2010, we characterized the club as misfits that came together and got it done," Bochy told the roaring hordes gathered for the rally in Civic Center Plaza. He said the tagline of the 2012 Giants was "never say die," a reference to the team's come-from-behind, post-season dominance.
"I thank you for always being there, for never giving up," he said. "Thank you for showing up wherever we've been and making this one of the greatest moments of my life."
As with the 2010 parade, this year's two-hour edition drew a cross-section of the region's diversity. Children who were allowed to skip school squeezed cap-to-glove alongside older couples who had been Giants fans since the team arrived in San Francisco from New York in 1958.
Series MVP Pablo Sandoval, who swatted three home runs in his first three at bats in Game 1, and second baseman Marco Scutaro, who batted in the winning run of the game that clinched the title, addressed the throngs at the rally in Spanish.
"This is the second, but there are going to be a lot more," Sandoval said, expressing special thanks to the Bay Area's Latino community. "You should enjoy this and feel this in your hearts."
Casandra Buenrostro, 25, who arrived at the plaza at 5 a.m. so she could get pictures of Sandoval, did.
"He made me cry," Buenrostro said. "He's an inspiration."
Earlier in the day, clouds of black, orange and white confetti were shot from cannons positioned on roofs and along the canyon-like, skyscraper-lined street. Spectators and parade participants, who included legendary Giants alumni Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal and politicians such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, reveled in the showers.
The unifying energy of the Giants' latest victory was evident as San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith drove the car carrying Giants pitcher Matt Cain and his family, while 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh did the honours for first baseman Brandon Belt.
The convertibles gave fans clean views along the parade route that began at the foot of Market Street near San Francisco Bay and ended on the steps of City Hall, across from the overflowing plaza.
"Since I was a kid, I wanted to play on the Giants and win a World Series. So it's fun to be here," said shortstop Brandon Crawford, who grew up in the Bay Area.
Star reliever Sergio Romo, wearing a T-shirt that read, "I just look illegal," whipped the roaring crowd into a frenzy when he got out of his convertible and mingled.
"It's unbelievable! Unbelievable! Just great!" said fired-up right fielder Hunter Pence, who was acquired in a midseason deal and led pregame pep talks. At the rally, Pence persuaded his teammates to jump around the stage to demonstrate the ritual he called the "slow-clap."
"I loved it when they started acting goofy," said Janet Clark, 55. "That's exactly who the Giants are."
With the victory parade coinciding with Halloween, costumed masses brought an even more festive feel to what city officials hoped would be a family friendly, alcohol-free event.
Philip and Alyssa Lozano got up in Sacramento at 3:30 so they and their son could catch a ferry in time to witness the whole spectacle. Nine-year-old Christian Lozano was dressed up for Halloween as, what else, a panda, in tribute to Sandoval, whose nickname is the "Panda."
"We've been representing the Giants for a while and couldn't make it to the parade in 2010," Philip Lozano said.
San Francisco police spokesman Michael Andraychak said 22 arrests were made, including 13 for public intoxication, but said the crowds generally were co-operative.
Some fans carried brooms as a reminder of the Giants' four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers. Later, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee handed Giants President Larry Baer a ceremonial metal "broom to the city" along with the customary key.
Alex Warlen and Kelly Simms, both 17, were among the hundreds of people who camped out overnight in the plaza to ensure they had prime viewing spots. Warlen is a pitcher and Simms a catcher for the softball team at San Francisco's Mercy High School. The team is co-champion of its division.
"Buster is the reason I'm a catcher," read a sign Simms carried, referring to the Giants' Buster Posey. The high school seniors said Mercy administrators gave students the day off, so they weren't cutting school.
"We would have skipped anyway," Simms said.
Associated Press writers Garance Burke and Terry Collins contributed to this report.Suggest a correction