Friday, June 06, 2008

Hail The Conquering Heroes

The Detroit Red Wings returned home to Detroit Rock City as heroes today as the city turned out in huge numbers to welcome the boys back to town. Here are a few photos from the Red Wings Stanley Cup Championship Parade which took place in Downtown Detroit earlier today:

They cheered. They chanted. They sounded air horns. If they could have, they would have hoisted the Red Wings upon their shoulders and carried them down Woodward Avenue themselves. This was love, hockey style, as hundreds of thousands of fans jammed downtown Detroit Friday to pay homage to their crooked-smile heroes. They lined Woodward, seven deep at some spots, and mounted trees and utility poles to watch a victory parade for the Wings' winning of the Stanley Cup. "It's nice to feel all the spirit and optimism," said Steve Aller, who ventured here from Jackson. Residents took off from school and work to watch the parade and a rally at Hart Plaza on a sun-splashed afternoon where temperatures reached the 90s. The relentless heat did little to quell the enthusiasm of the raucous throng decked in the team colors of red and white. Because the Wings had clinched the championship in Pittsburgh, this was their first chance to parade it in front of fans. Homecoming was never so sweet. "I'm here to support the Red Wings," said Kyle Walsh of Sterling Heights. "This is our team and this is how we do it in Detroit." Traveling vendors sold everything from pins to pennants, programs to player cards. But many fans brought their own props. They came with Wing flags, aluminum foil Stanley Cups, even Lindstrom on a stick. To clarify, it was a life-sized photo of team captain Nick Lidstrom mounted on a pole. Signs were everywhere. "Skipping school to see the Cup: Priceless." "Be happy Hudler penalties forgiven," a reference to mistakes by center Jiri Hudler. Another poster thanked the Wings in six languages, English, French, Swedish, Finnish, Russian and Czechoslovakian, one for each nationality represented by the worldly team. "I wouldn't think of missing this," said sign-owner Carol Atchison, 54, an elementary school worker from Southgate. With so much love in the air, it was only natural that marriage proposals would follow. Team heart throbs Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk were running neck-to-neck in marital requests contained on posters. One teenage girl even wrote it on her octopus-balloon hat: "Datsuk Marry Me," she wrote, misspelling his name. Sorry, ladies. Datsyuk is marriage and Zetterberg has a girlfriend, a Swedish pop star, no less. There was even a real marriage proposal as Andy Jones dropped to a knee in front of the Fox Theater and offered a diamond ring to a stunned Jennifer Carlson. Carlson said yes and, as they say in sports stories, the crowd went wild. "I just can't believe it," said Carlson, 37, of Saginaw. "Until now he never said a word about marriage. Jones, 42, said the parade was a perfect time because he and his betrothed are big Wing fans. Thousands more watched a post-parade rally at Hart Plaza, where players thanked them for their support. "We just really, really want to thank people for coming down," Red Wing center Kris Draper said ... The parade began with the Detroit Color Guard and a high school band at Hockeytown Cafe on Woodward Avenue. The color guard was followed by the Zamboni ice-cleaning machine float and the Martin Luther King Jr. High School marching band. Almost two hours before the parade, Kim Moss of Troy pulled a little red wagon full of goods away from her parked car on West Lafayette Boulevard. "This isn't my first parade, you know," Moss said proudly. "I've got this down to a science." "Actually, I went light today because of the weather. I've got sandwiches, three different kinds. I've got the water. I've got the Gatorade, the umbrellas, the horns, the cookies, the cards, the seats and the cowbells." "Usually, we bring a Stanley Cup replica and uniforms and things like that," said her husband, Mike Moss. "But we went light because of the heat." Off the couple went down Lafayette pulling their little wagon. Tim Evans said he and his family traveled here from London, England, to celebrate the Wings' win. He said he and his family were hanging out near a tree at Woodward and Congress, before the parade festivities started. At 10 a.m., two buses carrying the Detroit Red Wings and their families pulled up outside the Hockeytown Cafe. The crowd was very raucous, especially when some of the players, including Mikael Samuelsson, got off the bus. In the background, the crowd chanted, "Let's go Red Wings! Let's go Red Wings!" The last person off the first bus carried the Stanley Cup, eliciting a huge cheer from the crowd. The first person off the second bus was hockey legend Gordie Howe, which prompted a chant from the crowd of "Gordie! Gordie!"

Woot! This sounds like it was an amazingly fun affair ... I really wish I could've been there to take in the celebration in person but I am sending all of my love out to Detroit today. I understand that the massive crowd booed Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick when he took the stage (he is currently facing criminal charges of perjury stemming from testimony he gave during a whistle-blowers trial and is not well liked by anyone in the city right now) which is a bit of shame since it should be a happy occasion but Detroiters tell it like it is and I respect them for it. Again, much, much congrats goes out to the Detroit Red Wings for bringing home the Stanley Cup to Detroit, MI, aka Hockey Town, where it belongs. Big ups, Detroit!!! [Source, Source]