When a team in your city wins a championship, your city gets a parade. I can't be sure, but I'm pretty confident that it's in the Constitution somewhere, at least on the state level. Unfortunately, in our nation's capital, we don't get those types of parades too often. I've spent 35 years living near this great city, and trust me, we haven’t done it often at all. The last time the entirety of DC was able to celebrate like this was 26 years ago (Sorry DC United, I'm a season ticket holder, and I hope that you someday could generate this kind of glee, but you're not quite there, yet).
Sure, Inaugurations happen every four years, and at times one social cause or another political gathering gets the city's skyline on CNN, but this is different. This was ours. It wasn't about a group of carpetbaggers coming in to celebrate a national election, a massive protest of the ruling party of the time, or about the swamp or the lobbyists or the interns or the representatives of other cities and states on the Hill.
This one was about us.
It's been a rough 26 years since the last big parade. I could talk about a trip to the now-shuttered Carpool in Arlington to watch them fall to the Penguins. I could talk about watching in-person, Ovi's first trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs end in an overtime Game 7 defeat to the Philadelphia Flyers. I could talk about any number of deflating losses, where they hit crossbars, missed empty nets and let the puck crawl through their legs to the back of the net. I could also expand the scope of deflation, and remember Robert Griffin III, crumpled in a heap. I could reminiscence about throwing things in frustration at Justin's Cafe as a Game 5 against the Cardinals slipped through the Nats’ fingers, or when Clayton Kershaw came in late to best Max Scherzer with me looking on in horror from the stands. I could talk about a lot of moments. Frankly, I could even talk about this year, when I gave up on watching OT hockey games entirely. The result has always just seemed so damn inevitable. Always.
And then suddenly, it wasn't quite so inevitable.
When they came back from two games to none against Columbus, it felt a little bit different. When Evgeny Kuznetsov lit the lamp, flapped his wings, and sent home the Penguins, we were overjoyed that the piano was lifted. When the collective team effort suffocated the vaunted Tampa Bay offense into Game 6 and 7 goose eggs, we wondered. When Braden Holtby made "The Save" in Game 2, we started believing. When Jakub Vrana, Alex Ovechkin, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Lars Eller netted goals in game seven, we were all champions.
It most definitely does not "be f*ing suck!" as the team's bearded Russian grizzly bear of a captain so succinctly put it.
"We are Stanley Cup Champions!"
It was jubilation. It was local. It was diverse. It was everything that those of us that live here know Washington, DC to be. It was for those of us that grew up here. It was for the players and coaches, who all thought that they missed their chance last year, and year before that, and year before that, and weren't sure if they'd ever get there. It was for the season ticket holders that have watched for 43 seasons of disappointment. It was those of us that root for the Nationals on hot summer afternoons, the Redskins on crisp autumn Sundays, the Wizards through frigid winters, but most of all, those of us that don a sweater, "Rock the Red", and fill Capital One Arena, season after season. We all took part in the festivities. I don't think a single person that wore their sweater on a warm, but not-too-hot June day regretted that decision, and I think we'll all remember the scene of overdue and well earned triumph for the rest of our lives.
Congratulation, Washington, DC — your Capitals now hoist the Stanley Cup.
We got our parade, for everyone this time.