- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 16, 2009

PITTSBURGH | Just call it the city of champions.

Four months after Pittsburgh celebrated the Steelers’ sixth Super Bowl victory, police estimated 375,000 people converged downtown again for a parade, this time in honor of the Stanley Cup champion Penguins. People lined streets - in some places standing 20 deep or crowding onto multilevel parking garages - to get a glimpse of the team and the cup.

One woman, who said her name was “The Greatest Pittsburgh Penguins Fan Ever” before noting that most people call her Alison Coyle, drove eight hours from her home in Brick, N.J., to attend Monday’s parade. Arriving in Pittsburgh at 2 a.m., the 45-year-old thought she might get some sleep but was so excited she was awake by 6.

“I would give both my arms and both my legs to be here,” said Coyle, donning a Sidney Crosby jersey and holding her camera above her head to try to get a better shot of the players.

The Penguins won their third Stanley Cup in a 2-1 victory Friday against the Detroit Red Wings. The parade followed the same route that drew an estimated 300,000 fans in February for the Steelers’ Super Bowl XLIII victory.

“This is great, and there’s gonna be many more,” said Andrew Mehlich, 30, of Pittsburgh, who attended the parade with several family members.

Chanting “Let’s go Pens,” fans honked plastic horns and cheered. Crosby held the Stanley Cup in the air as he rode in the back of a truck alongside goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

“Thank you, guys,” Crosby told the crowd. “What can I say? I mean the support you guys have given us, the support you have showed… you deserve to be called the city of champions. You deserve the Stanley Cup.”

One fan carried a handwritten sign: “Nothing like a Fleury in June.” Others had homemade aluminum foil replicas of the prized trophy and threw black-and-gold confetti - the team’s colors - along the parade route. Forward Max Talbot jumped out of a car to shake hands with fans.

“It’s a holiday for Pittsburgh,” said Michelle Solkovy, 31, who took the day off work and brought her 4-year-old daughter, Kendall, to the parade.

Betti Labbe, 40, and her husband, Joe Szekeres, 44, of Frederick, Md., drove to Pittsburgh on Sunday night. Szekeres said he is a lifelong Penguins fan who attends about five games a year, but his wife needed a little coaxing.

“It was them or divorce, so I picked the Penguins,” Labbe said.

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