Kristin J. Bender

SAN FRANCISCO: Thousands of fans in Giants gear who were eager to cheer the World Series champions in rainy downtown San Francisco grabbed prime viewing spots early Friday, hours ahead of the celebratory parade expected to draw up to 2 million revelers.

The parade will feature double-decker buses carrying the players and floats of the Golden Gate Bridge and a panda in honor of third-baseman Pablo Sandoval, whom teammates have nicknamed “Kung Fu Panda.”

Iris Gomez, 37, arrived to the parade route with sandwiches, juice and plenty of rain gear more than 5 ½ hours before the start of noontime event. Rain was falling along the parade route Friday morning.

“I love the Giants,” she said. “I’ve been going to the Giants games since the tickets were $8,” “I wouldn’t miss this.”

The parade starts at Market and Steuart streets and then heads to San Francisco City Hall and Civic Center Plaza, where Mayor Ed Lee will honor the team with a giant onstage ceremony.

The 3-2 victory Wednesday against the Kansas City Royals was the Giants’ third World Series championship in five years. Players, including the series’ Most Valuable Player, 25-year-old pitcher Madison Bumgarner, will ride on double-decker buses.

The streets early Friday were already awash in orange and black.

“I just want to see the players go by,” said Claudia Gonzalez, 38. “The Giants were the underdogs throughout the whole series, and that is just what I show my children — to be team players.”

Parade efforts were underway long before Sandoval snagged the final fly ball and dropped on his back on the field in victory.

“Unlike most parades where we have weeks and months to plan, this all kind of came down the pipes over the course of days,” The Parade Guys’ Stephanie Mufson told ABC7 News.

The parade, which is free and open to the public, was a first for 43-year-old Ana Gonzalez, who rose before the sun to drive to San Francisco from her suburban Bay Area home.

With the parade falling on Halloween, it left her and many other parents with a tough choice between celebrating their team and attending school events.

“I asked the kids if they wanted to go to their Halloween parade or the Giants and they said, ‘Let’s go see the Giants,”’ Gonzalez said.

Police Chief Greg Suhr said the number of officers on the streets Friday will be at least 20 percent higher than usual, with police dogs helping with security.

“We will prepare for any inevitability, but we are hoping for the best,” he Suhr. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there were 2 million people in San Francisco (for the event) Friday.”