Apparently, not everybody loves a parade.
Eschewing tradition, the Anaheim Ducks did not hold a Stanley Cup parade, opting instead for a rally in the south parking lot of the Honda Center.
Turns out, it was not such a bad move.
An estimated crowd of 15,000 was getting antsy as the festivities began an hour after the scheduled time of 6:30 p.m. To make matters worse, the warm-up band that filled in for more than 40 minutes was less than stellar, even mispronouncing Jean-Sebastien Giguere's name as "gee-gar" -- rhyming with cigar.
A handful of fans actually headed to the exits before the party started, but the vast majority who stuck it out on a picture-perfect California evening were rewarded.
The team arrived on the top of a double-decker style bus -- they were riding on the open-air top-level -- from a location behind JT Schmid's around 7:30 p.m. Katella Boulevard was closed to traffic as the bus drove a couple of blocks down Katella before entering the south end of the parking lot.
As the players were about to depart the bus, an Anaheim Police helicopter buzzed the crowd. The Stanley Cup, along with Scott Niedermayer, Rob Niedermayer, and Chris Pronger were on board.
No word on whether the Stanley Cup was missing its two closest friends, as Mike Bolt and Phil Pritchard -- better known as the keepers of the cup -- were not along because of space restrictions.
Rob Niedermayer emerged with the Stanley Cup, while brother Scott carried the Conn Smythe Trophy and Pronger brought the Clarence Campbell Bowl. The trophies -- along with the team -- entered via a red carpet lined with cheering fans.
As the team entered, popular SoCal-based band Pennywise played Bro Hymn, better known as the Ducks' goal music. The song continued through the roughly 10 minutes it took for the team to reach the stage, which certainly qualifies it as the extended version.
Once the festivities started, things were just as entertaining. California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger attended, giving a short, entertaining speech.
Schwarzenegger told the crowd after the first win, the Ducks commented, "we'll be back." After the second win, "we'll be back." After the third win, "we'll be back."
And Wednesday night, Schwarzenegger reasoned, they said "hasta la vista, baby."
Schwarzenegger shook the hands of every Duck -- Chris Kunitz shook with his left hand instead of his injured right hand -- and even received a Stanley Cup-worthy embrace from Brad May.
Several players, Brian Burke, and owner Henry Samueli also spoke at the rally, while television commentator and former NHL goalie Brian Hayward led the proceedings.
As the sun set, the Pond was lit in orange lights to illuminate the three Stanley Cup banners on the outside of the building. Once the speeches were over, fireworks were set off on the east side of the building while players again took turns lifting the Stanley Cup.
The spectacular setting seemed worthy of the offical welcome of the greatest trophy in sports to California. As the first California team to win hockey's holy grail, the sight of palm trees swaying in the breeze and fireworks as a backdrop seemed the perfect complement to the Stanley Cup.
Unfortunately, nearly 20 million Southern Californians chose to stay away on this evening.
It was their loss.
For the 15,000 who were present, the sight of the Stanley Cup transcended team loyalties or any other differences. Whether those in attendance were Ducks fans, Kings fans, or hockey fans in general, it was an evening to remember.
I was there and it was crowded. I couldn't even move from where I was at. It was definitely a memorable experience. There were people who waited since 8:00 am to get to the front row. And there were even some who waited since 4:30 am! People were starting chants and at one point we were louder than the band playing before they showed up since we've waited so long for them to show up.