(Sounds of clapping).
Less than three weeks after watching their Olympic heroes on television, Houston residents got to see them in person taking pictures and shaking their hands.
(Sounds of fans).
Diver Laura Wilkerson spent much of her time signing autographs.
(sounds of Wilkerson's exchange with fan).
"It's awesome, you know just being a part of something much bigger. Being a part of this huge United States Delegation, knowing it more than just about you.Î¾Î¾It's about your city, your country, your state. There's nothing like that kind of pride."
Not all of Houston's 26 Olympic athletes attended the ceremony, some are still competing in other parts of the world. But mayor Bill White said the ceremony was the city's way of saying thanks.
"And we're proud of them, because they represent the full diversity of this great community. They're Olympic heroes not because God gave them the gift of athletic ability, but because they put those gifts to their work.Î¾ And to take pride in the taskÎ¾ofÎ¾the training that it takes for each of those sports to represent our country well."
For Councilwoman Jolanda Jones watching the Olympics and this welcome home ceremony brought back memories of her own days of competing for the U.S. in the Long Jump.
"A lot of times you just take stuff for granted.Î¾Î¾And it's not until you compete internationally and hear your anthem played when you're on the medal stand do you have an appreciation for how great this country is and what it means to represent your country. Not many people get to do that."
The Lopez family of Houston took home three medals in Tae Kwon Do. Steve showed off his bronze.
"You wanna feel it? It'sÎ¾pretty little heavy. It's cool. It has something on the back. It's cool man. It's fun. It gets me into some places for free."
(Sounds of the closing of the ceremony, our National Anthem playing in theÎ¾background).Î¾Î¾
Bill Stamps. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.