There was no confetti, no megaphones or 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 beachside 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 beachside Strand before ending at the Manhattan Beach Pier.
Kings gear vendors walked up and down the barricades, peddling 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, 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.
On 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 it 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.
O’Brien and her husband, who sported a retro Kings jersey with signatures from old team members, said South Bay locals were die-hard fans before the Kings were champions, a passion that shows during the team's winning seasons.
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.
When the team won the championship in 2012, she and her son crafted a Stanley Cup replica out of cardboard and tinfoil, placing it on top of a marble statue in Kings center Mike Richards’ frontyard.
After the team captured the cup again Friday, they made another one, which is still sitting out atop the statue.
At the North End Bar & Grill in Hermosa Beach, where Kings players arrived with their Stanley Cup just hours after the double-overtime win, more than a dozen fans were already lined up after the parade route passed through.
Among them was Ron Ciulei, a bartender who’s worked there eight years. “The atmosphere in there during games is amazing,” said Ciulei, adding fans would have tables staked out by 10 a.m. for evening games.
“It’s unfortunate sometimes because our regulars can’t get in, but the spirit is all fans.”
Hermosa Beach Mayor Michael DiVirgilio said the parade has special meaning, especially because South Bay residents regularly see players out and about in the community.
“They live and play, raise their families and hang out with their friends in the beach cities,” said Hermosa Beach Mayor Michael DiVirgilio.
“They’re part of our hometown community and we are proud and honored that they choose to live here and share their success with us.”