Hometown Fetes Skating Star Hughes

03/11/2002 at 11:00 AM EST

When you've got a gold medalist in your midst, you have to welcome her home with a certain degree of hoopla. Yesterday, Great Neck, N.Y., the hometown of skating phenom Sarah Hughes, let its local star know how much it appreciates her, according to news reports. About 60,000 showed up on a brisk but clear Sunday as marching bands, politicians, police and fire departments paraded through town, New York's Daily News reports. The celebration was originally scheduled for last weekend but was postponed due to rain. New York Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer both attended, along with mayors from surrounding towns and admiring fans. One fan, Maxine Gervey, told the Associated Press as she watched as the 16-year-old Olympic gold medalist pass by in a black Bentley convertible: "This is the best thing that's happened in this town in 50 years. It creates the most wonderful community spirit." During the two-hour parade, Hughes stopped at a local deli to try the sandwich it named for her, and she also visited Great Neck North High School, where her Olympic performance was being shown on a giant-screen TV, the Daily News reported. "Sometimes it feels like a dream world to me, and I have to pinch myself," Hughes told the newspaper after the parade.

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