An Estimated 650,000 People Celebrate Penguins At Stanley Cup Parade
The Pittsburgh Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade and rally drew an estimated 650,000 people downtown. Not bad for a city that, officially, has only 305,000 residents.
The crowd estimate by Penguins officials makes it the largest parade, by far, to turn out for any of the Penguins' five championships. Last year's parade drew about 400,000 people — the most up to that point — and officials predicted as many as 500,000 might turn out to celebrate the team's back-to-back championships.
Coach Mike Sullivan, at the rally in Point State Park, told the crowd the talent of the team and support of the players helped them clinch their win.
"These guys are fierce competitors and they just know how to win," Sullivan said. "We've got a unique base. You know, everyone talked about Nashville through those finals, but they've got nothing on Pittsburgh."
Penguins fans from all over the region made it downtown for the parade. Lisa Wolfhope, 45, and her daughter, Katie, 15, left their home in Johnstown at 5:30 a.m. to beat the crowd. By 8:30 a.m., they were camped out along the parade route on Boulevard of the Allies.
Zach Rickner, of Hampton, Va., drove seven hours Tuesday to Johnstown and woke up early Wednesday morning to arrive in time for the parade. Despite the heat, Rickner was dressed as an aluminum Stanley Cup, and held two other miniature cups in his hands.
"I can't take credit for the cup on my head, my dad made that," Rickner said. "Made out of bubble wrap, plastic plates and a lot of aluminum. It seems to get a lot of attention and I love it."
Diane Reichenbach, of North Huntington, has been following the Penguins since 1970. She said she not only watched every Penguins playoff game, but every game in the entire playoffs.
"It's a totally different season when the playoffs arrive," Reichenbach said. "All the games are just so interesting to watch and it's so fascinating to see how hard every team is trying to advance to the next round."
Stan Schaffer, of South Park, remembered watching the Penguins celebrate their back-to-back wins in the '90s.
"They actually didn't have a parade then," Schaffer said. "The second cup was at Three Rivers Stadium ... I remember Trottier jumping off the stage with the cup, running on the tarp and sliding on the field with the cup. It was great, classic."
While traveling the parade route, Penguins players seemed more than happy to jump out of the pick up trucks they rode in to greet fans, sign hats and take selfies.
This year's parade was different than last year's in that it ended at Point State Park, where a stage was set up so the team and coaches could address the fans.
The rally was short, but impactful. The crowd seemed to cheer loudest when goalies Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray held up the cup together as fans chanted, “Murray, Fleury.”
Sunny weather and temperatures in the mid-80s helped the turnout.
90.5 WESA reporters Sarah Kovash, Katie Blackley, Bill Gardner and the Associated Press contributed to this report.