Fans pack Downtown for Penguins victory parade


By Steve Rotstein / Sports Editor

A record-breaking crowd descended upon Downtown Pittsburgh on Wednesday to see the Pittsburgh Penguins parade through the streets with their fourth Stanley Cup.

City officials expected a crowd of 375,000 people, which is about how many turned out in 2009, the last time the Penguins won the Cup. The exact number of attendees is still unknown, but estimates for Wednesday’s crowd are over 400,000 people, making it the largest parade crowd in Pittsburgh history.

An estimated 250,000 people showed up for the parade when the Pittsburgh Steelers won their fifth Super Bowl in 2006, followed by over 300,000 people for the Steelers’ sixth Super Bowl celebration in 2009. The Penguins broke the record later that year, then broke it again today.

The parade began as players stepped off the East Busway entrance at Grant Street and Liberty Avenue, then continued along Grant Street toward the Boulevard of the Allies.

Players rode by and waved to fans — packed at least 10 rows deep on both sides of the street — on their way to the stage setup at the intersection of the Boulevard of the Allies and Stanwix Street. There, players were introduced to raucous ovations as they stepped out of their vehicles and onto the stage.

In between cheering for the individual players, fans echoed out chants of “H-B-K,” “Let’s go Pens” and “We won the Cup.” Captain Sidney Crosby received the loudest reaction of all, riding at the end of the line with the Stanley Cup by his side as chants of “M-V-P” rang out.

After all the players, coaches and executives made their way on stage, Penguins broadcaster Paul Steigerwald congratulated the team and its fans before giving the microphone to Coach Mike Sullivan, Crosby and other players for celebratory remarks.

Pitt student Erik Bauer, a senior supply chain management and marketing major born and raised in Pittsburgh, gave a simple explanation for why he showed up.

“Whenever one of our teams wins, you have to come to the parade,” Bauer said.

Bauer had no trouble naming the player he was most excited to see.

“Sidney Crosby. He’s the team captain,” Bauer said.

Duquesne students and lifelong Penguins fans Lauren Taddeo and Amber Shields attended the parade after watching the team clinch the Cup from inside Consol Energy Center on Sunday.

“It was crazy … I’ve never heard anything so loud,” Taddeo said about the final moments of the Penguins’ 3-1 victory.

Taddeo was most excited to see Crosby, while Shields couldn’t wait to see the man Crosby set up for the game-winning goal –– Kris Letang.

Shields, who also attended the Penguins’ 2009 championship parade, said this year’s was even bigger. The numbers backed her up.

“It was fun … but not as crazy [as this],” Shields said.

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