By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff ReporterFollow @mary_paoletti
BOSTON -- It was strange to see Causeway shut down.
Instead of cars, the street was lined with lawn chairs.
The sun shone without much warmth, but it was only 8:30 in the morning and felt like one of those June days that held the promise of heat. The Cup wouldn't emerge for another 2 12 hours.
In the meantime, they poured in from the subway, great waves of black and gold spilling out and spreading over the parade route. Those who couldn't walk were wheeled, "BELIEVE IN BOSTON" banners waving from the backs of their chairs. Some stood in triplets of generations, the well-worn Sanderson, Samsanov, Oates and Orr jerseys mixing in with those Recchi, Bergeron, Krejci and Seguin sweaters, tags still on. Somebody's mother wore a Milan Lucic "Ass Kicker" t-shirt.
It was estimated that over 1 million people would gather by the TD Garden that Saturday. The Bruins had won the Cup -- that much fans knew and celebrated-- but now they needed to see it.
Tinfoil and inflatable copycats were everywhere. As a four-foot silver masterpiece was carried by the Harp, a group of twenty-something guys whooped their approval. All five patrons raised nearly-empty Sam Adamses in salute, and one leaned out the large bar window.
"I want to kiss that Cup!" he crowed. "Bring it over here!"
Even the cops were calm. MBTA shuttles dropped Boston officers off by the busload to infiltrate the crowd, but the work day was casual considering the numbers. It was a mob scene only by volume, not intentions. Young troublemakers got their Poland Spring bottles of vodka confiscated and dumped into storm drains. Getting arrested would be pointless -- can't see the Cup from the back of a squad car. No, a winner's unity kept Boston on its best behavior Saturday.
And they were smug in that knowledge. More than a few signs poked a sharp elbow at the already-bruised Canucks fan base.
"Vancouver Riots. Boston rallies!" one sign read. "Visit Vancouver: I hear it's a riot!" read another.
The little jabs were irresistible, but the majority of that million couldn't care less about the Canucks. Rolling Rallies are about one thing: The start of a fresh obsession or the climax of a long-standing love.
As the clock ticked closer to the Cup, anticipation swelled and fell away. "LET'S GO BRUINS!" that most classic game chant, began in earnest at 11. Fans rose up on tiptoes, craning necks in the direction of the idling duck boats promised to carry their champions. The most important party possible wasn't starting on time, but today the fans were happily impatient.
They waited 39 years. What's 10 more minutes?
It was all worth it.
It started with a rumbling bass line. Those first familiar strains of "Shipping Up to Boston" followed like shots of adrenaline directly to the heart. Women and children were boosted up onto strong shoulders, cameras and cellphones were raised blindly overhead as that first boat rolled between the barriers.
The Stanley Cup was hoisted high in the arms of its guardian, their captain, Zdeno Chara.
Someone sprayed champagne, cheap beer or both. Chara lofted the Cup again, then pretended to toss it to the fans. They jumped up, fingers stretched forward and chests tight. Beside him, Tim Thomas gripped his Conn Smyth. Neither stopped smiling for a full minute and probably couldn't have on a dare.
The Nature Boy's iconic "Woo!" kicked off "We are the Champions" on Cambridge Street. Bagpipers held off to let it play. Shawn Thornton held his right index finger in the air and twirled silver beads around the left.
"McQUAID! McQUAID! THE MULLET!"
He smiled and pulled off his hat. They will love him for years for that; Adam McQuaid can buzz his head for the rest of his career and they would remember the mullet.
Patrice Bergeron looked unflappable as ever. His joy was tightly radiant. One lift of his arms and a slow smile sent them swooning. On one stop, a small group of fans screaming silently from high on a rooftop caught Bergeron's eye. He pointed up to their perch with both hands.
You -- yes, you -- thank you for being here.
Behind Cup sightings, Nathan Horton got the loudest cheers. Every time his boat rolled around a different corner and Bruins fans caught his million-watt smile they were sent into a frenzy. Nathan Horton: happy-go-lucky hero turned shutdown symbol for The Good Fight. At Center 1 Plaza he grasped hold of his young sons' wrists and lifted the boys' arms in victory.
Three days after Game 7, Tuukka Rask still wore Horton's helmet. He may never have taken it off since the postgame locker room celebration.
All the while, black-and-gold confetti shot into the air. Fans lifted their faces as it floated gently down like a November flurry.
Those who imagined this day had no idea how brightly the Stanley Cup really shined. When the sun broke free and burned off the clouds, it was overwhelming. Some chased it down, following that lead float as far as they could, not wanting the day to end.
It had to.
Eventually, the lawn chairs gave way to discarded signs ("Never forget Savvy 91"), streamers and incoming street sweepers. The crowd walked back to where it all began, TD Garden, and the trains that brought them in. But this time, for the first in a long time, they walked away from hockey season satisfied.
A moment of immortality, one sunny Saturday in Boston. Nothing left to say.
"Now just do it again!"