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‘This Is the Best': Caps Fans Rejoice at Stanley Cup Victory Parade, Rally

"Every time I drive on Constitution [Avenue] for the rest of my life, I'm going to remember this day and how amazing it was," goalie Braden Holtby said

The National Mall and the streets of downtown D.C. were a sea of red Tuesday as the Washington Capitals and their fans celebrated the team's historic Stanley Cup victory. 

Caps players, marching bands and first responders paraded through the streets as tens of thousands of fans cheered along Constitution Avenue and on the steps of the National Archives.  

Fans along Constitution chanted, "Raise the Cup!" and "Ovi! Ovi! Ovi!"

More than 40 vehicles -- buses and convertibles -- carried players and staff along the route, led by officers on motorcycles. 

Goalie Braden Holtby said he always would remember the victory parade.

"Being on those buses, you guys are yelling 'thank you' to us. I want to say thank you to you guys, because every time I drive on Constitution [Avenue] for the rest of my life, I'm going to remember this day and how amazing it was, and it's all because of you guys," he said.

The final bus with Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Brooks Orpik, owner Ted Leonsis and team president Dick Patrick had the Stanley Cup on board. Ovechkin hoisted the Cup over his head again and again from atop the double-decker bus.

One young fan summed it up: "THIS IS AWESOME!" 

After the parade, fans flocked to the #ALLCAPS rally on the National Mall at 7th Street. Caps players spoke one by one -- drinking celebratory beers -- and linked arms to sing "We Are the Champions." 

When announcers called T.J. Oshie’s name, he pulled his jersey up over his face and drank a bottle of Bud Light right through the cloth. The crowd exploded as the veteran forward kicked one leg to the crowd and dumped the remaining beer on his head.

Oshie, the fourth-leading scorer during the team’s playoff run, told the crowd that the team has heard a lot of cheers this year including, “Let’s go Caps” and “We want the cup.” He taught the crowd a cheer for next season: “Back to back! Back to back!"

Ovechkin got a little profane as he celebrated at the rally.

"Before the year, I said, 'We're not going to be f---ing suck this year! We're the Stanley Cup champions! Yeah!" he screamed. Then he hoisted the Cup over his head and kissed it to wild applause.

Ovi hoisted the roughly 35-pound trophy above his head to loud cheers and yelled, “It’s yours boys and girls and babes! Let’s go!" 

Crowd members then broke into the opening riff from the White Stripes song, “Seven Nation Army," a staple anthem heard in arenas worldwide. 

Fans showed up early for the parade -- and already cheering, waving flags and bearing banners -- to stake out spots along the parade route and on the Mall. Some actually showed up Monday night and camped out. 

"This is the best. We have followed the Capitals for many, many years, and we wouldn't miss this for the world," said a fan who traveled from North Carolina and camped out Monday night with her husband. 

Among the fans on the National Mall early Tuesday was a couple who waited with their young twins, Nick and Alex. The kids are named after Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin.

"We've been going to the games for the past 10 years," their dad said.

The parade is the District's first sports parade since the Redskins celebrated in 1992. 

Federal offices in D.C. were open Tuesday, but the White House encouraged federal agencies to grant employees two hours of administrative leave to attend the parade.

Metro trains were running on rush-hour frequencies throughout the day and will continue into the evening commute to accommodate the thousands of fans. Trains are departing end-of-line stations every eight minutes, with service as frequently as every two to four minutes at downtown stations, Metro said.

Monumental Sports submitted a permit application last Thursday -- before the team's historic win had even happened -- for a parade in downtown D.C.

Under "Purpose of event," Monumental Sports' application to the National Park Service said, "To celebrate the Stanley Cup Champions: WASHINGTON CAPITALS! ALL CAPS!"

Monumental Sports expected "100,000 + +" fans to attend, the application said.

"This is D.C. — District of Champions," one fan said early Thursday. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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