TAMPA — Lightning fans have been waiting to celebrate in proper fashion for nine months.
They lined up outside the Tampa Bay Sports store at Amalie Arena over an hour before it opened on Thursday.
The workers let customers in early and the crowd searched for all things Lightning. The Stanley Cup champion hats, scarves and pucks were particularly popular, and the general Lightning gear found its way into people’s purchases, too. The Lightning faithful were still ecstatic after seeing their team win a second straight Stanley Cup.
“For them to go from nothing to be back-to-back champs — that’s big. That’s big. That’s big for our city,” said Myron Parks, 44, who has lived in Tampa his whole life.
Parks works on the Water Street project, but he ran over on his break to get some gear to be prepped for Monday’s parade. Brett Riddle had a similar plan, scurrying over to the store from the Brandon Regional Hospital on his lunch break to buy the same black hat the players wore on Wednesday night. Riddle has only lived in Tampa for two years, but he’s fully invested in the Lightning.
Fans from outside Tampa Bay flocked in for the big clincher, too. Taylor Yow, 22, called up her college friend Danny Byrnes, who lives in Maryland, and told him to fly down. Byrnes flew in to watch the game together at Sparkman Wharf. It was well worth the trip.
“It was pouring rain and no one cared. It was awesome,” Yow said of watching the game. At the team store, the two planned to get a mix of championship and regular Lightning gear.
Mark Matie and his sons, Mark and David, came in from Dallas, Texas for the game. The Maties work in the construction industry and said they scored tickets from Lightning center Blake Coleman for building his house in Dallas. The younger Mark went home with a Stanley Cup champions scarf.
Lindsay Dinnis, 40, is another Tampa resident with a deep connection to the team. She came with John Dinnis, who she was dating at the time, to the 2004 Stanley Cup final. This year, she returned with John, now her husband, and their 10-year-old daughter for a game in every series, including the Stanley Cup clincher.
They came for Lightning gear. It’s a part of their history, too.
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The Tampa Bay Times will commemorate the Lightning’s second consecutive Stanley Cup title with a new hardcover coffee table book, Striking Twice. Pre-order now.
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