Penguins Victory Parade: Everyone had a special reason to be there

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As thousands of Penguins fans packed Downtown streets to revel in the Pens' victory in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final, Post-Gazette reporters fanned throughout the crowd to compile vignettes of the celebration:

Penguins General Manager Ray Shero saluted Coach Dan Bylsma, hired Feb. 15 to shake the team from its losing ways. Mr. Bylsma went on to become only the second rookie coach hired in mid-season in hockey history to lead his team to the championship.

"Raise your hand if you knew who Dan Bylsma was before Feb. 15?" Mr. Shero said.

Off to the side, Mr. Bylsma sheepishly raised the hand of his young child.

-- Ed Blazina

The parade didn't start until noon, but people started showing up Downtown at 4:30 a.m. yesterday to get choice viewing spots.

By 9:30 a.m., fans were a dozen deep at the end of the parade route, along the Boulevard of the Allies at Stanwix Street.

Danielle Hooks, who turned 20 on Saturday, was one of them.

She drove in from Vandergrift to thank the team for "bringing the Stanley Cup for me for my birthday and because Malkin's my future husband."

The would be Evgeni Malkin, the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Ms. Hooks was wearing a homemade tank top with the words "MVP Stanley Cup Champs" on the front and "71 Malkin" on the back.

"I know all three of his cars and I run down the street after him. If that's not stalking, I don't know what is," she joked.

-- Elham Khatami

Traffic around the parade route was brutal.

Doug Ward, whose office in the United Steelworkers building is right at the end of the parade route, could not exit at Stanwix Street as usual to get to work. He had to drive clear around the city, getting on Route 28 North before looping back into town and parking his car blocks from the office.

The usual five minutes it takes to park took 45 minutes yesterday morning, the Shadyside man said.

Police officially estimated the crowd at 375,000. Under cloudless skies and a temperature of 80 degrees, city paramedics responded to 23 calls, all of them for fans who were overheated.

Two were transported to hospitals for treatment of non-life-threatening maladies, a police spokeswoman said.

There were two arrests -- one for disorderly conduct and the other for unlicensed T-shirt sales. A 13-year-old boy was reported missing, but was located and reunited with his group.

-- Timothy McNulty

Not all of the fans in town yesterday were from Pittsburgh or its environs.

Daniel Desrochers, 40, a self-described "huge" Penguins fan for 18 years, drove 11 hours from Quebec to make it to the parade. It was his first visit.

Until 1991, he said, he supported mostly Canadian hockey teams but shifted allegiances after the Penguins signed Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, among others.

"I thought to myself, 'That's the kind of team I want to follow,' " Mr. Desrochers recalled.

Mr. Desrochers said he allowed himself this 800-mile trip as a belated 40th-birthday present.

-- Martine Powers

Jennifer McGennis saw the Stanley Cup for the first time yesterday, despite her family's history with it.

Mrs. McGennis' grandfather, Gilbert Williams, was a jeweler in the Toronto area and stored the cup at his home several times between 1962 and 1967.

Mrs. McGennis attended the parade with her husband, Brett, and their daughters Caitlin, 7, and Lauryn, 5. The family moved to Pittsburgh from Guelph, Ontario, in 2005.

The girls, swallowed up by their adult-size Stanley Cup T-shirts, proudly displayed a sign with two Canadian flags and the message: "Let's Go Pens! I am Canadian!"

"To us, the Stanley Cup's the biggest prize," Mr. McGennis said. "Who knows when we'll get the chance to see it again."

-- Jess Eagle

Fans unleashed enough black and gold confetti during the parade to drive a clean-up crew crazy, but Elmer Richardson, a city Public Works street-cleaner operator, didn't mind at all.

From the driver's seat of his rig, which was parked on Sixth Avenue facing Grant Street and the parade route. Mr. Richardson had a great view of the parade and the mess that fans left behind.

A sweeper in Downtown and the North Side for 23 years, he estimated the cleanup would take him about four hours.

"It's a celebration," Mr. Richardson said, shrugging. "It's cool."

In fact, he said, he would be tossing confetti with everyone else if he weren't working.

-- Jess Eagle

Speeches by Penguins players and officials at the end of the parade didn't mark the end of the festivities.

That came at Point State Park, where Zambelli Fireworks Internationale put on the grand finale, fireworks in the middle of a sunsplashed afternoon.

Company chairman George R. Zambelli Jr. said his workers sent up smoke bombs -- gold and black, of course -- plus "some festive colors and noise" to cap off the celebration.

"You are limited in what you can do in the daylight, but we wanted to do something for the Penguins," said Dr. Zambelli, 61, an ophthalmologist in Rochester.

The company decided to do something Thursday night -- the night before the seventh and deciding game of Stanley Cup finals -- and began working on the idea at its plant in New Castle.

"We sent an e-mail to the Penguins right after the game and pulled everything together early [yesterday] morning. We had the truck rolling even before we got final permission to do it. We thought everyone would like that icing on the cake."

-- Tom Birdsong

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said he was glad to return for the parade yesterday after being away on a family vacation last week.

"I was in North Carolina. We were in a restaurant bar with some Penguins fans. So we were cheering from 500, 600 miles away. I'm sure it wasn't the same as being here and experiencing it, but its good to be back now and participate in the parade today."

-- Ed Blazina

Phil Borque, an analyst on the Penguins radio broadcasts, harkened back to his days as a player on the 1991 Stanley Cup championship team. Grabbing the Cup yesterday, he repeated what he said when the team celebrated that victory at Point State park:

"Let's take this thing down to the river and party all summer long."

Meanwhile, Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike Lange had a bag in his hands when he went to the microphone. After last Tuesday's game, when the Penguins won 2-1 to send the series to Game 7, Mr. Lange said the teams would meet "in the schoolyard Friday for all the marbles."

Holding up a bag yesterday, he said, "I got the marbles."

-- Ed Blazina


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