Washington (AFP) – A red sea of tens of thousands of fans boiled over in jubilation Thursday as the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup for the first time in team’s 44-year history.
Capital One Arena in downtown Washington, the Caps’ home stadium, was full to the rafters and rocking for a free jumbotron viewing of the away game.
Many more boisterous fans wearing red Caps jerseys spilled into surrounding Chinatown streets to cheer on their side.
In the end, the 4-3 triumph over the Las Vegas Golden Knights in game five of the National Hockey League finale series was particularly sweet for Caps fans sadly used to seeing their team reach the playoffs fairly regularly, only to choke well before reaching the final round.
“It’s beautiful,” fan Bobby Parrish told The Washington Post.
“This is incredible. I mean, I’ve grown up being disappointed and yet I still come back. Sometimes I don’t know why. Until it finally happens. It’s why you wasted so many years supporting this team. I mean, it’s so rewarding.”
In the after-game delirium, fans screamed as they hugged each other in gridlocked streets and drivers honked their horns all over the city, as far away as the K Street corridor of lobbyist power not far from the White House.
After Lars Eller scored the go ahead goal for the Caps with 7:37 to go and Washington held on until the final buzzer, people inside the arena shot their arms up in glee, ran onto the basketball court at the center of the multi-purpose facility or even chucked their beer straight into the air.
“Unlike anything I’ve ever seen before,” fan Mark Creamer, 22, told the Post.
Washington is a big sports town and fans were particularly hungry because the last major crown here was the Washington Redskins’ 1992 win in the Super Bowl.