St. Louis Blues parade, rally celebrates team's ‘worst to first' season

Thousands flood downtown

By Amir Vera and Theresa Waldrop, CNN

St. Louis was a loud, cheering sea of blue Saturday as the city celebrated the St. Louis Blues first Stanley Cup win in its 52-year history.

Thousands of diehard Blues fans flooded downtown to celebrate, with many wearing the team's jerseys or other blue clothing and waving the team's banner, as a parade made its way from Market Street to the famed Gateway Arch.

The Blues beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 in the final Stanley Cup game Wednesday night, ending the longest wait in NHL history for a first championship. The Blues went from being the worst team to Stanley Cup champions, or as fans were putting it Saturday, going from "worst to first."

"This is the biggest party St. Louis has ever seen," Randy Sapienza, 36, told CNN affiliate St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Blues superfan Laila Anderson was on one of the first parade floats, according to CNN affiliate KMOV-TV. The 11-year-old has a hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, or HLH, a rare and life-threatening immune disease. She has become an inspiration for the team.

Actor and Blues superfan Jon Hamm was in the midst of the celebration taking selfies with fellow fans. He also took to the stage at the rally to deliver a victory speech, according to CNN affiliate KTVI.

"I can't get over how many people I'm seeing right now," Hamm said. "I hope all of you feel the same way that I feel -- which is pride, joy, and exuberance for all of this stuff. Because this doesn't happen that often, as we know. You guys get it. Let's go Blues! Maybe we'll do it again next year."

On Friday, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson declared June 15 as St. Louis Blues Day.

On Saturday, at the parade and rally, Lt. Gov Mike Kehoe presented the proclamation of Blues Day to Hockey Hall of Famer and Blues alumnus Bernie Federko.

"This has been a Cinderella story all season long," Federko told the audience. "Considering where this team was in January, I think a lot of people said there was no chance, but we all believed. What they did together is absolutely amazing,"

Some diehard fans began claiming the choicest spots for Saturday's parade by camping out overnight Friday, CNN affiliate KMOV4 reported.

"We wanted to make sure we were on the front row to see the guys who won the cup," Bob Pinkley told the Post-Dispatch. He said he and 15 others came in at 3 a.m. from Crystal City.

"I've been waiting my whole life for this cup," Pinkley said.

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