BEND, Ore. -

Thousands of people crowded downtown Bend streets and sidewalks Sunday to welcome home and congratulate hometown hero and Olympic gold-medal decathlete Ashton Eaton, as well as to honor numerous other High Desert Olympians.

The sidewalks were almost impassable, as people waited patiently for one of their hometown heroes. 

From a yellow Corvette, Eaton and his mom waved to the crowd and thanked them for all of their support. 

"The support from Central Oregon is just overwhelming," said Ashton's mom Roslyn Eaton.

The parade was led by former Olympians, Eaton family members and coaches of Eaton's, past and present. 

When the parade came to a close in front of the Tower Theatre, Eaton addressed the crowd, and explained why the Central Oregon community was such a big part of his gold medal. 

"You guys are strong. You guys are dedicated. You guys are inspirational," he told the crowd. "I don't do this for fun. I do this to thank you guys."

After his speech, kids had a chance to race the record breaking athlete in a "fun run.":

Then fans of all ages had the opportunity to meet the athlete one on one and get his autograph. 

"I got Ashton to sign my cast," said one young fan.

For two hours, Eaton signed everything from articles of clothing to pictures, and posed for the camera with many of his biggest fans. 

Although an overwhelming day for the track star, it was a well-deserved welcome home celebration for the decathlon champ hailed as the world's greatest athlete. 

"We all want our children to be successful," said Roslyn Eaton. "But when they can be recognized in this kind of way, it's just amazing."