- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A sea of Washington Capitals fans, bedecked in red and white, washed over the downtown area Tuesday in celebration of the team’s victory in the Stanley Cup Final and the end of a 26-yearlong championship drought.

“It’s rare in this town where everyone agrees on something and to have people of every race, gender coming together,” Lori Reilly, 46, of Alexandria, said during the Capitals‘ victory parade.

Ms. Reilly had waited a long time for the Capitals to bring home the Cup, having witnessed their heartbreaking loss during their only other Stanley Cup Final appearance — a 1998 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

Thousands of people gathered for a Capitals-led parade along Constitution Avenue and then for a rally on the National Mall, featuring speeches from players and coaches. The players, riding on double-decker buses with fans and beers, jumped off frequently to mix with other fans lining the streets.

Though the hockey players flaunted their beers, the fans were more discreet in their consumption. Still, empty beers covered the areas where the crowds had reveled in their red-and-white team colors.

Fans cheered as team captain Alex Ovechkin and his teammates hoisted the Stanley Cup from the roof of a bus.

The Capitals‘ victory over the Vegas Golden Knights last week was the team’s first championship in its 44-year history and marked Washington’s first major sports championship since the Redskins defeated the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI in 1992.

Thomas Wood, 5, said he was excited to see his favorite Capital — Alex Ovechkin — because “he’s the Great 8.” He also had a wager about how many people attended the parade.

“Over 100 people,” Thomas said, though the city expected to accommodate more than 100,000 attendees.

Kevin Dunkley, 27, donned Capitals gear from head to toe and wore a heavyweight wrestling champion belt around his waist.

“I am a fan of the city,” Mr. Dunkley said. “Whenever a team wins a championship, I am there for them — except for the Redskins.”

He also offered a higher estimate for the crowd size: “I am surprised there’s not more people. I think 3 million people will be here.”

(The U.S. Park Police, who secure federal areas like the National Mall, does not provide crowd estimates.)

Other fans simply could not believe their team finally brought home a win.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Scott McIntosh, 44, a teacher from Frederick, Maryland. “Since I was 10, I’ve been a Caps fan. My favorite part now is that I can tell all my Penguin fans that we have a cup.”

Mr. McIntosh brought a homemade replica of the Stanley Cup to the parade and said he videotaped and watched each game four times.

“It’s like everyone won the lottery today,” he said.

Parade sights included horses, beer trucks, two Zamboni machines, bagpipes, a beach ball and the Eastern High School Marching Band. Four F-16s flew from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport over the Potomac River to start the parade. Fans blew horns and chanted, “C-A-P-S, CAPS! CAPS! CAPS!”

After the parade and speeches, the Capitals and their fans launched into a rousing rendition of Queen’s “We Are the Champions.”

One fan sporting a red jumbo wig praised the community atmosphere.

“D.C. is more than just politics,” said construction manager Kevin Mohammed, 41. “It’s amazing to be amongst all these long-time supporters. I have been a fan since I moved to D.C. 18 years ago.”

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