BALLOONS, banners and scores of screaming fans greeted dance crew Ruff Diamond as they arrived back in Hartlepool as conquering heroes.
Crowds lined Church Street for the return of the team of 13 to 17-year-olds who reached the finals of the World Hip Hop Dance Championship at the Red Rock Hotel, in Las Vegas.
Hundreds of people turned out to cheer the boys who battled through the preliminary and semi-final rounds of the varsity section of the championships to reach the finals and finish ninth.
Last night, the crew reached home tired but overjoyed.
A surprise reception awaited them at the Oddbar pub in Church Street and they arrived there in style - on the back of a flatback lorry provided by Clevestone Transport.
The crew’s choreographer Zac Healey said: “We have had an amazing time. We hoped to get to the semi-final which would be one step further than last time but we managed to get all the way and it’s fantastic.”
His mum Val Armstrong, who runs the studio in Whitby Street South where the crew practises, said: “Something like this is amazing for the town and the support from the people of Hartlepool has been fantastic.”
Janet Staunch, 46, from Hart Station, whose son Aaron, 17, is one of the Ruff Diamond crew, said: “It has been unbelievable. We have been on an emotional high for days.”
l WATCH out for a special feature on Ruff Diamond – and their junior crew Lil Diamondz – in this Saturday’s Dance Fever column.