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Crosby thanks fans for 'incredible run' to Stanley Cup victory

| Wednesday, June 15, 2016, 9:57 a.m.

Penguins. Parades. Pittsburgh.

On Wednesday, they went together like HBK.

As many as 500,000 fans packed Downtown for the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade. It was a record crowd for the city, officials said.

“You guys are what make it so special to play here,” team captain Sidney Crosby told the throng packed around a stage on Stanwix Street.

“It's been an incredible run, and we're happy to be back here in Pittsburgh.”

Fans were happy to have them back.

“Everybody is here with a smile on their face just to see a trophy. It's great,” said Rick Topping, 34, of Brentwood.

Colleen Gillette, 29, drove from Rochester, N.Y., to attend the celebration.

“I don't think I could be anywhere else in good conscience,” she said.

Brett Haluch, 37, of Green Tree stood in the same spot Wednesday as he did seven years ago, when the Penguins last paraded in the city.

“Seeing the Cup hoisted around the city of Pittsburgh is truly, truly sentimental,” he said.

Early start nets Cup view

Penguins fans began pouring into Downtown before dawn, hours before the victory parade's 11:30 a.m. start.

Some spent the night outside to score a front-row spot.

Chants of “Let's go Pens!” and “We won the Cup!” broke out. Fans held signs thanking the team. Beach balls bounced above the crowd.

“The one thing I've learned is this is one crazy sports town,” coach Mike Sullivan said from the stage.

Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford proposed a deal.

“We'll try to meet again here next year,” he said.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald informed the crowd that Public Works Department officials estimated it was the largest crowd to attend a parade in Pittsburgh.

The reason for the large turnout: “Pens fans are the greatest fans in the world,” said Mayor Bill Peduto, a Penguins season ticket holder,

Amanda Banachoski, 22, of Shaler arrived Downtown at 4 a.m. to secure a spot to see the Cup.

“My schedule revolves around the Penguins,” she said.

Scott Fialor, 40, of York showed up Tuesday night to secure his place and passed the time by eating pizza with other fans.

“It's the Pittsburgh Penguins. I had to get the best seat to see everything,” he said.

Fialor skipped work for the parade, noting that he had a valid excuse.

“The Penguins won the Stanley Cup.”

Kim Reilly, 46, of Green Tree used a personal day to be at the parade.

“I've seen (them win) four Cups, and every time it's meant more to me,” she said.

Tillie Lishego, 21, of North Irwin said her employer understood why she wouldn't be at work.

“My boss knows hockey comes first,” she joked.

One fan didn't give the Tribune-Review his name because he did not want his boss to know he was at the parade instead of working.

“I'm serious. I'm not posting anything about this on social media for a month,” he said.

Heat, humidity affect some

Rain moved out of the area before the parade started, but heat and humidity stuck around. The temperature reached 80 degrees by the start of the festivities and climbed to about 83 degrees by the end. With 50 percent humidity and sunny skies, it felt like 90 degrees at noon, according to AccuWeather.

Paramedics transported 15 people with heat-related illnesses to hospitals and treated 65 at the scene, according to Sonya Toler, a spokeswoman for Pittsburgh police.

No arrests were reported.

Police patrolled along the edges of the parade's path, making sure fans stayed on their side of the barrier and checking the identification badges that members of the media wore to access the parade route.

Despite the heat, Ryan Grimm traveled Downtown from Fairchance, dressed in a Penguin suit and wearing a Marc-Andre Fleury jersey.

He said watching the team he has loved all his life turn its season around and win the Cup has been great.

The Penguins were fourth in the Eastern Conference wild-card standings (10th place) when coach Mike Sullivan was hired Dec. 12. They finished second overall in the conference and ended up as the higher seed in three of four playoff rounds.

“It's interesting the way things happen,” Grimm said, noting that the injury Evgeni Malkin suffered brought together the HBK line of Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel. “It's amazing how the stars aligned.”

Bridgette Casper and her son Jeremy drove from Gibsonia to join the crowd.

“We're here to cheer on our Penguins, of course,” she said.

Jeremy, 9, plays hockey. He's a defenseman, his mom said — “a Kris Letang in the making.”

Stacie Sulkowski and her son Joey, 4, traveled from Erie on Wednesday morning. She said it was a two-hour drive and it took half an hour to find a parking space.

“For this,” she said of why she made the trip, gesturing to the thousands of Penguins fans around her. “For the Pens.”

Haden and Elliott Cook, 5-year-old twins from the North Hills, picked a good year to start liking hockey. Their father, Andrew, took them to the parade.

“They're at an age now where they'll be able to remember this,” Andrew Cook said.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Staff writers Megan Guza, Madasyn Czebiniak, Phillip Poupore, Alaina Getzenberg, Matt Zabierek and Rob Rossi contributed to this report.

Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Sidney Crosby kisses the Stanley Cup during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade through downtown Pittsburgh on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Sidney Crosby hoists the Stanley Cup during the Pittsburgh Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade, Downtown, on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
An estimated 500,000 fans flowed into downtown Pittsburgh on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, for the Penguins' parade celebrating their Stanley Cup victory.
Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Fans cheer during the Pittsburgh Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade, Downtown on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang hoists the Stanley Cup up as he rides down the Boulevard of the Allies on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the Penguins' victory parade in Downtown Pittsburgh.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Evgeni Malkin carries the Stanley Cup down the Boulevard of the Allies on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade in downtown Pittsburgh.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Geno Clark, 5, of McDonald watches the Pittsburgh Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, in downtown Pittsburgh.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Thousands of people gather on Wednesday, June 15, 2016 to watch the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade in Downtown Pittsburgh.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby hoists the Stanley Cup on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade in downtown Pittsburgh.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Fans celebrate on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade in downtown Pittsburgh.
Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Fans line Grant Street on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade in downtown Pittsburgh.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Iceburgh revs up fans with chants of 'Let's Go Pens!' on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade in downtown Pittsburgh.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Chris Kunitz high-fives fans on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade in downtown Pittsburgh.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Fans cheer on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade in downtown Pittsburgh.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Fans watch the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, along the Boulevard of the Allies in downtown Pittsburgh.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby shows off the Stanley Cup on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the 2016 Stanley Cup victory parade in downtown Pittsburgh.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
People watch the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade from above Grant Street, Downtown, on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Matt Murray greets fans Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade through downtown Pittsburgh.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Conor Sheary (left) and Tom Kuhnhackl ride along Grant Street on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade in downtown Pittsburgh.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Kris Letang hoists the Stanley Cup on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, as the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade travels down the Boulevard of the Allies in downtown Pittsburgh.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Fans get revved up on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade through downtown Pittsburgh.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Derrick Pouliot (from left), Steve Oleksy and Oskar Sundqvist greet fans Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the Penguins' 2016 Stanley Cup victory parade in downtown Pittsburgh.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Penguins owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle ride down Grant Street on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during in the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade in downtown Pittsburgh.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Penguins forward Beau Bennett high-fives fans gathered to watch the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, in downtown Pittsburgh.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Thousands of people gather in downtown Pittsburgh to watch the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Penguins goalie Matt Murray celebrates Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade through downtown Pittsburgh.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Kristin Bossong of Cranberry, 1-year-old Jordan, and Bossong's husband, Christian, enjoy the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade through downtown Pittsburgh on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Eric Fehr greets fans as he rides along Grant Street on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade thorugh downtown Pittsburgh.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Penguins fans line Grant Street during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade through downtown Pittsburgh on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Lisa Oross of West Mifflin sports homemade glasses honoring the Hagelin-Bonino-Kessel line on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, before the Penguins' 2016 Stanley Cup victory parade through downtown Pittsburgh.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Brian Dumoulin greets fans Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade in downtown Pittsburgh.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Fans cheer and hoist a homemade Stanley Cup on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade through downtown Pittsburgh.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Sidney Crosby lets fans touch the Stanley Cup on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade in downtown Pittsburgh.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Bryan Rust greets the Penguins' fans Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the team's Stanley Cup victory parade in downtown Pittsburgh.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Sidney Crosby greets the crowd while displaying the Conn Smythe Trophy on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Penguins fans wait for the start of the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
A child lifts an inflatable Stanley Cup above the crowd along the route of the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, in downtown Pittsburgh.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
People cheer along the Boulevard of the Allies as the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade begins on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, in downtown Pittsburgh.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Sidney Crosby hoists the Stanley Cup during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade through downtown Pittsburgh on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Fans watch the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade from a fire escape, Downtown, on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Fans cheer from above the Boulevard of the Allies on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Fans, including Zachary Sheeler (center), 18, of Johnstown, cheer on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, along the route of the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade in downtown Pittsburgh.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Pascal Dupuis high-fives fans on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade in downtown Pittsburgh.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Carl Hagelin (center) admires the Penguins' H.B.K. belt as he walks to the bus with Tom Kuhnhackl (right) during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade on Wednesday, June 15, 2016 in downtown Pittsburgh.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
People cheer along the Boulevard of the Allies as the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade gets under way on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, in downtown Pittsburgh.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Marc-Andre Fleury interacts with fan along the route of the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade in downtown Pittsburgh on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
People enjoy the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade, Downtown, from higher ground on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Conor Sheary signs memorabilia for fans along the Boulevard of the Allies during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin rides with the Stanley Cup through downtown Pittsburgh on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the team's victory parade.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
The Penguins Ice Team cheers as they march in the Pittsburgh Penguins' 2015 Stanley Cup Victory Parade in Downtown on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
People cheer along the Boulevard of the Allies as the Pittsburgh Penguins' 2015 Stanley Cup Victory Parade begins in Downtown on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Eddie Olander, 8, of Shaler, runs along the parade route gathering high-gives as he waits for the Pittsburgh Penguins' 2015 Stanley Cup Victory Parade to start in Downtown on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
The Penguins are flanked on both sides by ecstatic fans Wednesday, June 15, 2016, during the 2016 Stanley Cup victory parade through downtown Pittsburgh.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Penguins forwards Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel greet fans during the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory parade on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
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