The weather gods may have missed their cue to bathe Leith in glorious sunshine but nobody seemed to care as men, women and children – aged eight months to 85 years – gathered in huge crowds to cheer on their cup-winning heroes.
Thousands of singing Hibs fans gathered outside the City Chambers to watch their heroes board an open-topped bus following their 3-2 victory over Rangers on Saturday.
Newly-crowned club legends including Anthony Stokes, John McGinn and David Gray waved and cheered from the top deck after a civic reception hosted by the Lord Provost.
The cup-winning squad was joined on the bus by one of Leith’s most famous sons and club majority shareholder, Sir Tom Farmer.
Tourists caught up in the raucous Royal Mile melee looked on in stunned silence as flag-waving Hibbies sporting green hats and scarves greeted the squad with a chorus of deafening cheers.
But this was just a small taste of the jubilant scenes to come as the victory parade wound its way along Princes Street and down Leith Walk to Leith Links.
Beaming players appeared to enjoy the procession every bit as much as the crowds, raising the trophy overhead or dangling it over the side of the bus to allow supporters a closer look.
Estimates suggest as many as 100,000 people turned out to join the parade as it swept through the city yesterday afternoon.
As the atmosphere reached fever pitch, Hibbies broke into spontaneous outbursts of club anthem Sunshine on
Children who were unable to see over the surging crowds were hoisted on to their parents’ shoulders so they could experience the spectacle of the Scottish Cup coming back to Leith after 114 years.
Many of them were too young to understand the full significance of the occasion – a moment in history for which many Hibbies have yearned for so long but lived and died without ever seeing.
But the emotion of the day was not lost on the loyal but long-suffering older generation who had feared they may never live to see the coveted cup return to Easter Road.
Among them was lifelong Hibby and retired lawyer Alan Mowat, 80, who waited at Leith Links to catch a glimpse of their heroes.
He said: “I never thought I would live to see this day. I wasn’t at the game and I came down here to make sure it was as memorable a day as possible. And now I can die a happy man.
“This has been a great thing for Leith and a great thing for Edinburgh. I have lived to see something that even the Famous Five didn’t.”
Those who lost sight of the parade took shortcuts down Easter Road to reach Leith Links, with some stopping off en route for a swift half.
Among them was Mark Proudfoot, 47, who said: “It’s fantastic to see everyone enjoying themselves, including the team. And this is a great chance for the people who couldn’t make the game at Hampden to come out and cheer the team.”
Perhaps one of the loudest cheers of the day came as the bus approached Leith Links on the final leg of its journey.
Hibbies dived over hedges and scrambled through allotments to get a glimpse of the squad and the famous silverware finally in their grasp.
Sean Lewis, 23, watched the nail-biting game at Hampden Park and was among the crowds who followed the open-topped bus from the top of Leith Walk to the Leith Links.
He said: “What really made the day for me was the reaction of my 85-year-old grandad, Andrew Lewis. I pointed him out to the players as the bus passed and asked them to give him a wave. Stokes and John McGinn gave him the thumbs up and waved.
“He’s not an emotional sort of person but there was a little tear in the corner of his eye that was 85 years in the making.
“The whole feeling is indescribable. I woke up with a hangover at 8am this morning but I couldn’t go back to sleep.
“It was like Christmas morning. I had to leave the house because I was cheering in bed and my girlfriend was telling me to shut up!”
Sean’s brother, Nick, 33, added: “I have never experienced anything like it and I probably won’t again.”
Lauren Fisher, 17, is a Jambo but she joined the crowds to soak up the atmosphere.
She said: “I’m Hearts but my uncle is a Hibby. He used to cook for them in the stadium. He has suffered a heart attack not so long ago and was told not to watch the game. But he watched it anyway – against his doctor’s advice.”
Demi Coleman, 21, was there to cheer the team in the company of her dog Harvey who was also sporting a Hibs scarf.
“This means the world to me,” she said.
Darren Gunn, 42, discovered his beloved Hibs had won the game shortly after his plane touched town at Edinburgh Airport after a trip to Ireland.
Upon hearing the news via a text message, he was completely overcome with emotion and sank to his knees on the runway.
Joining the throng on Leith Links, he said: “I didn’t make the game but my two boys did. I am absolutely ecstatic.
“Everybody has come together. There must be 100,000 people here if you count the people following the parade.”