(CNS) - The Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings took a victory cruise atop double-decker buses in downtown L.A. today, cheered on by thousands of Kings faithful who lined the Figueroa Street parade route and crowded the area near Staples Center, where a victory rally is held.
The procession began a little after its planned noon start time, but that didn't dim the enthusiasm of fans who cheered, chanted and strained to get a glimpse of the players and the gleaming the Stanley Cup -- the first ever won by the Kings.
"Thanks a lot for all the support, we love you guys,'' Kings defenseman Matt Greene told the crowd from atop one of the buses near Staples Center. "We couldn't have done it without you. This is awesome. This is the best day of my life.''
His teammate, Kings captain Dustin Brown, then grabbed the microphone, but quickly put it down and instead hoisted the Stanley Cup over his head -- drawing raucous cheers from the crowd. The parade began at the corner of Figueroa and Fifth streets, then headed south on Figueroa to Staples Center, where an hour-long rally will be held in front of a capacity crowd.
"I never thought they would make it this far,'' said J.B. Myer, a Burbank resident who wore a Kings jersey with the name on the back "Fan Since'' and the number "84.''
Myer, who said he went to his first Kings game at the Forum in 1990, brought his 4-year-old son Braden to the parade -- noting that they took the subway from North Hollywood rather than fight traffic.
"I just want to see the Stanley Cup for the first time in my life,'' he said. "My son just wants to see (goaltender) Jonathan Quick.''
Kings players and their families, coaches, staff, broadcasters, alumni, the Ice Crew and mascot Bailey rode on six double-decker buses and other decorated vehicles along with the Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy, which was awarded to Quick as the most valuable player in the playoffs, and Clarence Campbell Bowl, emblematic of the team being champion of the Western Conference.
The Los Angeles Police Department reported no arrests and no trouble with the crowds. Fans packed in the area around Staples Center chanted, "Go, Kings, go!'' before the parade began, while others sounded horns and volleyed beach balls. Mascot Bailey worked the crowd and posed for photos with some fans.
Among the fans gathering was self-professed "super fan'' Kent Bentley, who lives in Toronto, Canada, but has been a Kings fan since the 1980s. "This is the greatest moment of my life,'' Bentley said.
He said his long-time devotion to the team has led to friendships with Kings players and management, and he said the team allowed him onto the Staples Center ice after the team clinched the Stanley Cup in game 6.
"Being on the ice, you'll never know how much that meant to me,'' he said. Street closures around Staples Center started at 4 a.m., according to Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Kings.
The parade route on Figueroa between Fifth and 11th streets was closed to traffic, as was Figueroa between Third Street and Pico Boulevard, 11th Street between Figueroa and Cherry streets, and L.A. Live Way (formerly Cherry Street) between Olympic and Pico boulevards.
The parade will be followed by an hourlong Championship Rally that will begin at 2:30 p.m. in Staples Center and feature video highlights, special presentations and the the introduction of the team, the coaching staff and Kings executives.
All of the more than 18,000 tickets to the rally were distributed Tuesday.