NEW YORK (AP) _ The crowd roared, confetti poured and the World Series Champion New York Yankees _ complete with ailing teammate Darryl Strawberry _ made their way up Manhattan's Canyon of Heroes.

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Yankees Manager Joe Torre were on the lead float, but the crowd reserved its biggest cheers for Strawberry, who is recovering from colon cancer surgery and missed the Series' four-game sweep of the San Diego Padres.

Chants of ``Darryl! Darryl!'' echoed in the skyscraper-lined canyon, as fans with blue and white painted faces, waving signs reveled in a blizzard of shredded paper as Strawberry rode past them in a red, classic Cadillac.

Fans streamed into the city in pre-dawn hours, jockeying for prime parade spots.

``You've got to do it,'' said Arthur Dirie, a city jail guard who drove 109 miles in the dead of night from Hortonville in Sullivan County to get a good spot.

Wearing a Yankees windbreaker, cap and holding the team picture in his lap, Dirie said, ``I didn't get to see the 1927 Murderer's Row (team) and this is probably the best team of all times.''

The record-breaking 1998 Yankees won 125 games this season, including the playoffs and World Series, more than any other team in baseball history. It was the team's 24th World Series win _ also a record.

The celebration _ the second tickertape parade for the Yankees in two years _ began at Battery Park shortly before noon.

The march included 13 marching bands; 10 classic cars; eight Yankee floats; seven double-decker buses, six press trucks _ and the Radio City Rockettes on a flatbed truck.

The floats carried the team, coaches and support crews while the Yankee wives, children and politicians rode in double-decker buses. World Series Most Valuable Player Scott Brosius had an honored spot on his own float.

The classic cars were reserved for V.I.P.s including Gov. George Pataki, ex-Yankee Joe Pepitone and Strawberry.

The parade has special meaning for pitcher Orlando ``El Duque'' Hernandez, who was reunited earlier today with his mother, two daughters and their mother, 10 months after he fled Cuba in a rickety boat. The Cuban government allowed the family to come to the U.S. for a short visit, but must return.

An invitation-only ceremony for 4,000 will follow the parade at City Hall where Giuliani _ the city's self-proclaimed No. 1 Yankees fan _ will present the players the keys to the city.

The mayor, risking detention from school principals across the metropolitan area, suggested parents take their kids out of school and join the party.

``The city has been galvanized by baseball,'' Giuliani said at a news conference Thursday. ``This is history. There has never been a team that had a record like this.''

Eight-year-old Giselle Alix of Brooklyn agreed. ``In school you get to learn. Here you get to see the Yankees.''

Adrian Zeile and Dot Stoude, both 17 and from Stamford, Conn., came to honor the Yankees but had another mission, too.

Emerging from the Metro-North trains at Grand Central Miss Zeile carried a sign that said: ``Derek Jeter can marry me.''

Miss Stoude's sign said: ``Any other Yankee can marry me.''