PITTSBURGH - The Penguins celebrated the team's fourth Stanley Cup with a parade Wednesday morning, which drew the largest parade crowd in city history.
Fans lined the victory parade route more than 10 deep as the players, coaches, their families and support staff rolled by in pickup trucks, convertibles and amphibious duck boats.
"We were slow at one time but, man, were we fast when we finished," general manager Jim Rutherford told the crowd at the end of the parade route.
The parade was held seven years to the day that the 2009 team celebrated its Stanley Cup championship with a downtown victory lap. That parade drew about 375,000 spectators, and city and county public safety officials said this one topped out at 400,000.
More than the official Pittsburgh population attended, according to city officials. Many people were claiming spots as early as 6:30 a.m.
"This is one crazy sports town," said head coach Mike Sullivan at the rally after the parade.
Pens owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle shared a ride past the team’s faithful fans, while Harnarayan Singh, the play-by-play announcer from “Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi,” delivered his now well-known chant, “Bonino! Bonino! Bonino!” Many others, including Pens Hall of fame announcer Mike Lange, were also involved in the victory parade celebrations.
Team captain Sidney Crosby spoke about this past season during the rally saying, "We found a way."
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Emergency service crews from the surrounding areas were called to the downtown celebration to help assist people suffering from heat exhaustion and other heat related issues.
According to city officials, the parade followed a route similar to the team's 2009 championship parade. More than 350,000 Penguins fans came out seven years ago to celebrate the team’s last Stanley Cup win.
“I saw pictures of what it was like when they won last night,” said Marisa Rozwat. “So, if it’s an ounce of what happened last night, the city will be shut down.”
A stage was set up at the end of the parade route to allow the team to speak to the crowd. Jeff Jimerson sang the national anthem and was followed by other Penguins' officials speaking to the crowd about the past season.
“I think it’s a chance for the city to come together and celebrate – have a great time and celebrate our team,” Erin Rozwat said.
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Pittsburgh police carried out their security plan, but Channel 11 spoke with fans who said they weren't worried about security.
“We will be protected and safe,” said Erin Rozwat. “It will be a fun time to come out and celebrate, and I don’t think it should stop anyone from coming out.”
Tom McMillan, vice president of communications for the Penguins, believed that it would be good for younger players as well.
"I think some of the newer players will be stunned by what happens here on Wednesday. It will be very exciting and will be one of their special memories," McMillan said.
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