Lightning fans pack Riverwalk to catch glimpse of champs, Stanley Cup

Lightning

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tampa Bay Lightning fans packed the Tampa Riverwalk on Wednesday to try and get a glimpse of the Stanley Cup Champions and the coveted Stanley Cup.

The City of Tampa put on a boat parade for the Lightning and all fans were invited to watch along the route.

A popular location was Curtis Hixon Park, fans there said they felt as though they had been waiting forever to see such a spectacle.

“Feel like I’ve been waiting a lifetime, even though it’s only been 16 years to see a [Stanley] Cup. And I wasn’t a fan then, so it’s just awesome to be able to see it, and we’ve seen it in real life at the All-Star Game, but it’s just different when it’s yours,” said fan Kiley Burress.

Many Tampa Bay Lightning fans are “transplants” from other parts of the country, including Ashley Smith and Ken Simmons, from St. Louis.

Smith has lived in Tampa for 5 years and her parents recently moved to town this year.

She also feels like she’s been waiting forever to see a championship parade for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Smith and her dad turned this celebration into a family affair.

“Oh my gosh, they last won in 2004 when I graduated high school way back in Missouri. I kind of followed them. And then when I came here and Tampa became my home, I started going with my family all the time, every year in the winter and I was able to go thanks to work as well.

“So it was a family thing. So now I’m having my dad join me today so we can make this a family now that they’ve moved down here with me.”

Smith said the atmosphere in Curtis Hixon Park was “beautiful” and everyone was in great spirits, despite the crowds.

Though not a life-long fan, Simmons was happy to have witnessed history.

“They’re fun to watch, they’re an exciting team. And I got to watch them in the playoffs… last year, they didn’t do very well, but, ya know,” he said.

Neither have ever been to a championship parade, even when their Cardinals won the World Series, they said.

“I’ve never been to a championship parade before or anything, so I thought it would be really cool to see it on water,” Simmons said.

“We’re lucky! The rest [of our family] are working and couldn’t make it!” Smith laughed.

With the Tampa Bay Rays advancing to the American League Division Series, sports fans are hoping to bring another championship back to the Tampa Bay area… and maybe, another parade in the near future.

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