Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Ravens coach John Harbaugh, safety Ed Reed and linebacker Ray Lewis address fans prior to the team's victory parade to M&T Bank Stadium. (Stokely Baksh/Baltimore Sun video)

Shawn Dyson closed his barbershop and let his 10-year-old daughter skip school Tuesday, hoping they could become part of Baltimore sports history.

"When you have moments like this in your life, you've got to experience them," said Dyson, who's 49. "This is an epic moment for Baltimore."

Ravens fans called off work, skipped school and brought downtown Baltimore to a standstill Tuesday to welcome their Super Bowl champions home with an exuberant parade and victory rally.

The morning rush hour became a logjam as an estimated 200,000-plus people from across Maryland poured into the heart of the city, standing shoulder to shoulder before City Hall, lining both sides of Pratt Street and filling M&T Bank Stadium to capacity. Delays plagued the afternoon rush hour and stymied the light rail too, as demand overwhelmed the system and trains stopped altogether several times when fans broke through barricades and spilled onto the tracks.

Fans leaving the celebration also encountered a crime scene three blocks from the parade route. Three youths were stabbed, one fatally, at Howard and Fayette streets. However, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said, "It doesn't appear ... that it's connected to the Ravens parade."

In the morning, the traffic was so bad even the team had trouble making it to the celebration of Sunday night's dramatic 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. But fans, who haven't had a chance to party like this since 2001, said it would take more than traffic, wintry weather and professional obligations for them to miss this moment.

Long before the parade began, the rowdy throngs packed into War Memorial Plaza danced with Ravens cheerleaders to the team marching band and stadium favorites by Jay-Z, the White Stripes and Nelly. They waved shiny purple pompoms, mugged for national television cameras and screamed themselves hoarse.

Though they ended up waiting in the frosty air for more than an hour — the parade delayed so that the team could get there — impromptu Ray Lewis "squirrel dances" broke out, fans scaled flagpoles for better views and small children sat atop their parents' shoulders.

People pressed their noses to the windows of downtown office buildings, dangled signs and banners and, when they could, took to roofs and balconies.

"We've been with [the Ravens] when they've been bad. We've been with them when they've been good," said Bob Welck, 56, of Pasadena, who got to City Hall about 7 a.m. to claim a prime spot. "We wanted to make sure we were in the front. ... We stick with them."

One superfan, Tera Houser, a 34-year-old from Pasadena, drove 18 hours through the night from New Orleans to be there. When her husband insisted on going home to sleep, she said he was the crazy one.

When things finally started, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told the crowd, "I want to thank all of you for your spirit. ... They underestimated us, but …"

"We won!" the crowd shouted in response.

When Lewis took the microphone, he expressed his love for Baltimore and held the Vince Lombardi Trophy up in triumph.

"Baltimore! We promised you we was going to New Orleans for one thing and one thing only," he said. "We told you all year: No weapon formed against us will prosper. This is the Ravens' year."

The crowd bellowed its appreciation.

"We love you, Ray," a woman yelled. "We love you!"

The feeling, apparently, was mutual. Lewis roared back: "Baltimore, I love you, forever and ever and ever and ever."

Ravens, many there with their wives, girlfriends and children, loaded onto floats, flat-bed trucks and military vehicles for the parade. Lewis was flanked by police on horseback to keep the crowds at bay.

As fans watched the players' every move, it was the ordinary people that mesmerized the Ravens, who held up phones to capture the roaring crowds.