Thousands of frenzied fans who couldn’t wait for Tuesday’s parade welcomed home the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots when they arrived to Foxboro Stadium on Monday evening.

It was the fans’ first opportunity to congratulate the team on home turf. The Patriots landed at Boston’s Logan Airport at 5:30 p.m. and traveled to Foxboro on seven buses that met them on the tarmac — thus shielding them from media and fans.

When they arrived in Foxboro 30 minutes later, linebacker Tedy Bruschi emerged from a bus and pumped the Vince Lombardi trophy in the air before handing it to team owner Robert Kraft, who then walked it through the crowd, under police escort, and let fans touch it.

“Thanks for everything,” defensive back Lawyer Milloy told fans as he and other players shook hands, posed for pictures, and shared hugs.

New England fans haven’t stopped celebrating since Adam Vinatieri kicked a 48-yard field goal in the final seconds to give the Patriots a 20-17 win over the St. Louis Rams.

At noon Tuesday, players, coaches and Kraft will ride on a parade route from Copley Square to City Hall Plaza, where a rally is scheduled between 12:30 and 1 p.m.

Fans arrived in Foxboro as early as noon Monday.

“This chance comes up once in a lifetime,” said Norfolk native Shawn Brace.

Quarterback Tom Brady, the Super Bowl MVP, did not travel with his teammates. He had MVP obligations at Walt Disney World in Florida but was scheduled to be back in time for Tuesday’s parade.

–Associated Press