For Kings fans, Monday was a day to celebrate the Stanley Cup. Pull on your Drew Doughty jersey, wear your Kings cap proudly, take the kids out of school and get yourself to Staples Center.
Thousands did. Here is how the day went from a fan’s sidewalk perspective:
10:50 a.m.: The parade of players, team officials and their families is more than an hour away, but already there’s a faint chant coming from fans gathered near the corner of S. Figueroa St. and Chick Hearn Court. "Go Kings Go!" On a loudness scale, it’s not quite there, but hey, it’s early.
10:55 a.m.: Sabrina Keep of L.A. is looking for some water for her dog, Lola. Sabrina and her mom, Vicki, have followed the team since the late 1970s, and Vicki recalls the days when she bowled with former Kings player Butch Goring and players’ wives at Mar Vista Bowl. The good old days.
"It’s just fun," Sabrina says about coming to the parade. "I love hockey, and this is a great team."
Under a late morning sun, Sabrina finally finds a bottle of water for Lola, who happily splashes it up.
11 .a.m: Rick Alfaro is holding up a sign he made celebrating the Kingsâ second Stanley Cup in three years. At the bottom, beneath the words "2014 Stanley Cup Champions!" are the logos of the Sharks, Ducks, Blackhawks and Rangers, with red X’s going through them. Those are the teams the Kings eliminated on their way to the title.
"I did it because I love the Kings," Alfaro, a professional sign maker, says. "No profit, no nothing. Everybody loves it."
He figures about 100 fans have stopped to take pictures, some posing in front of it. By the end of the day, he says, "I bet a thousand people will take a picture."
11:22 a.m.: The counterfeit apparel business is doing well. Vendors set up makeshift tables to sell T-shirts and caps, and others hawk their wares out of backpacks to avoid detection. Nothing to worry about, though. The cops are in full force, but they’re more concerned with keeping fans orderly than nabbing a few small-time entrepreneurs.
11:40 a.m.: Twenty minutes before the parade starts and fans are growing impatient. On Figueroa and Olympic Boulevard, the first beach ball is volleyed into the air. Then another, and another. It feels like Dodger Stadium.
11:45 a.m.: Who invented air horns? They’re plentiful here, but every time someone sets one off, startled fans jump three feet in the air. "Did you have to do that in my ear?" a woman says to a kid smiling proudly at his mischief.
12:05 p.m.: Around the corner from Staples, up Figueroa, cheers can be heard in the distance. The buses carrying players have begun their route to the arena, and now the chant "Go Kings Go!" is unmistakable. Fans press forward against the metal barricades set up by police in the early morning. In some areas, people are 20 deep.
12:15 p.m.: A police motorcycle escort turns the corner at Chick Heart Court, followed by four giant white flags with the Kings logo. Then members of the ice crew, riding behind trucks. Then the buses, although it’s almost impossible to tell who are the players and who are friends and family.
12:17 p.m.: But then you see it — the Stanley Cup. In one of the last buses, team captain Dustin Brown holds the precious silver trophy high above his head, moving from one side of the bus to the other so that fans can snap pictures. The cheers are deafening. Players wave. It’s a moment they want to hold forever.
12:30 p.m.: The last buses unload players and their families, who disappear into the tunnel beneath Staples Center for ceremonies reserved for season ticket holders. But the thousands who waited two or more hours outside are content.
They saw the Kings. They saw the Cup. They dream about the next parade.