America's Moon explorers rode to thunderous, triumphal welcomes in the skyscraper canyons of New York and Chicago Wednesday.
Millions of persons cheered the three Apollo 11 astronauts as they motorcaded through great showers of ticker tape along the routes of the nation's heroes up New York's Broadway and down Chicago's Michigan Avenue into the Loop.
Neil A. Armstrong, Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. and Michael Collins all but engulfed at times by crowds that surged off the sidewalks waved and smiled and brushed confetti out of their hair.
Their wives and children looked on proudly. It was a day for flag waving and martial music. Every other spectator, it seemed, waved an American flag or sported a red, white and blue astronaut button.
Bands played. Cars honked. Spectators leaned precariously out of office buildings or surged through police lines on the streets of the nation's two largest cities.
"IT'S WONDERFUL. It's exciting," Armstrong said at New York's City Hall as beaming Mayor John V. Lindsay officially welcomed the astronauts to the city.
Collins called it "the proudest day of my life."
An estimated two million New Yorkers glimpsed the lunar explorers during their parade, ceremonies at City Hall and the United Nations, and return to the airport.
Crowds stood 20 feet deep in places along Broadway, the "canyon o heroes," which was renamed "Apollo Way" for the day.
Throngs gathered along the Chicago parade route five hours before the moonmen's arrival.
Officials said more than one million Mid- westerners would see them before they headed on to Los Angeles for a gala state dinner with President Nixon.
Relatively small turnouts greeted the astronauts at O'Hara International Airport, where they arrived from New York aboard the President's Air Force One jet, and at Meig's Field, where they set down by helicopter for the start of their Chicago motocade.
BUT CHEERING crowds were 15 and 20 persons deep along Michigan Avenue's "magnificent mile." And the Civic Center Plaza, where Chicago's official welcome was held was a sea of humanity hours before the nation's heroes arrived.
In New York, Assistant Police Chief Frank Kowsks said, "never in my 10 years of running parades in New York have I seen a crowd of this size.