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Kings' victory lap is for their closest fans: their neighbors

Los Angeles KingsNHLStanley Cup PlayoffsNew York RangersStaples Center
L.A. Kings finally get their true hometown welcome
Some South Bay residents skipped the downtown L.A. celebration in favor of the Kings' small parade at home
'The guys on the Kings are local guys,' one fan says during championship parade

There was no confetti, no megaphones nor mega-buses to ride on, but the triumphant Los Angeles Kings finally got their true hometown welcome.

Two days after a raucous celebration through downtown Los Angeles, the hockey players celebrated with a beachfront victory lap in the South Bay, home to their training facility and all but one of the players.

Team members have been known to hold postgame celebrations at local bars, and often mingle at community events.

The four-mile parade wound through the streets of three beach cities, passing along the beach-side Strand before ending at the Manhattan Beach pier.

Vendors walked up and down the barricades, peddling Kings T-shirts and championship hats.

"Even when they were losing, we were going to the Forum to watch them play," said Hector Magana, who has lived in the South Bay and rooted for the Kings his whole life.

He skipped out on the downtown blowout, choosing instead to stay home from work to attend the beach cities' parade with his nieces.

"It's more intimate and they're doing it for their fans where they live," said Magana, whose right forearm is inked with the logos of his favorite Southern California sports teams, with the Kings on top.

The atmosphere in the beach cities was decidedly more casual than Monday's sold-out production at Staples Center, where confetti flew as freely as the mayor's publicized F-bomb.

Fans donned jerseys with shorts and flip-flops, and some brought beach chairs to watch the action unfold from the sand. Players, riding in the back of flatbed trucks, drank from red plastic cups as they waved to the screaming fans, many of them their neighbors.

At Hermosa Beach's Pier Plaza, people lined the barricades four deep, craning their necks to watch for the Stanley Cup and its entourage, as someone threw a beach ball into the air.

One attendee sporting a New York Rangers jersey began to skip along the barrier before the parade arrived, but was quickly booed off the Strand.

Finally, as the silver trophy made its way past them, the waiting crowd suddenly shouted in unison, "Go Kings Go! Go Kings Go!" but melted away just as quickly into watering holes and beach volleyball games once the procession had passed.

"The guys on the Kings are local guys, so they're always willing to stop and chat and shake a hand," said Mary Lou O'Brien, a Hermosa Beach resident clad in a Kings jersey, as she stood in her friend's yard overlooking the Strand.

During the finals, with her windows open to the ocean air, O'Brien could hear the entire block echoing with screams each time the Kings scored.

At the North End Bar & Grill in Hermosa Beach, where Kings players had arrived with their Cup just hours after the double-overtime win, more than a dozen fans were already lined up after the parade route passed through.

"They live and play, raise their families and hang out with their friends in the beach cities," said Hermosa Beach Mayor Michael DiVirgilio.

christine.maiduc@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Los Angeles KingsNHLStanley Cup PlayoffsNew York RangersStaples Center
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