WASHINGTON — More than half a million exuberant Washington Redskins rooters, many waving burgundy and gold pennants and chanting the name of their newest hero, Doug Williams, jammed the streets of the nation's capital Wednesday to hail their victorious Super Bowl team.
Workers skipped out on their jobs and students took advantage of a free pass from school to salute the new National Football League champions at a downtown parade and massive rally, which were followed by a special reception for the team at the White House.
Congratulating the team on its 42-10 win over the Denver Broncos, President Reagan, in a brief ceremony for the team on the South Lawn of the White House, exchanged a few "high fives" with players, accepted a team jersey with his name on it from General Manager Bobby Beathard and took a handoff from Williams. "What else is there to say but 'Hail to the Redskins?' " Reagan said.
Washington Mayor Marion Barry earlier introduced the team to the massive throng in front of the District of Columbia government building after team buses finally threaded their way through the jammed streets.
The crowd--estimated by authorities at 600,000--was so tightly packed that the ceremonies had to be halted at one point so that several fans that fainted in the crush could be passed on a sea of hands to the stage to be given medical aid.
"A crowd that large, it's hard to control," D.C. police officer Quinton Peterson said. "There's always some problem."
However, few other problems were reported, and arrests were limited to 10 for disorderly conduct and 19 for public vending without a license.
Vendors hawking Redskin caps, pennants and other souvenirs could not keep up with demand along the parade route, on what vendor Ralph Mazzuca called "the best selling day I've ever had."
Students excused from school packed the subways headed downtown in the hours before the rally and police officers on horseback struggled to hem in the arriving fans--many of whom had painted faces and wore hog snouts in honor of the Redskins' offensive line, dubbed "the Hogs."
Martha Harrison, a District of Columbia teacher who said she has attended all four of the Super Bowls the Redskins have appeared in, returned from her trip to San Diego for Sunday's game just in time to herd her elementary school class to see the festivities.
A month ago, Harrison said, most of the boys in the schoolyard were dribbling basketballs. Now they're throwing footballs in imitation of Williams, the first black quarterback to start in the Super Bowl.
"Jesse Jackson no more. Martin Luther King's in the past. It's all Doug now," she said.