The Stanley Cup has touched down at the waterfront in Georgetown, made landfall on the National Mall and in a few days it’s supposed to be flown to Russia to make an appearance at the World Cup. On Wednesday, downtown Bethesda got a taste of the glory that has been making waves throughout the metropolitan region when star Capitals defenseman John Carlson brought the Cup to Bethesda Lane.
The July 4 event drew a sea of Washington Capitals fans, almost all of whom were dressed in the now regularly sighted Caps red. Despite the temperatures soaring to over 90 degrees, most fans still rocked their thick, long-sleeve Caps jerseys.
“We’re dedicated,” Bethesda resident Paul Mclenaghan said about wearing the jersey despite scorching temperatures. “We’re not noticing it now, but we will in a little bit.”
Attendees of the event could buy three levels of tickets—general admission for $20, a VIP individual ticket for $500, which included a professional photo with Carlson and the Stanley Cup and a VIP Family Ticket for $1,500, which included a professional family photo with Carlson and the Stanley Cup. All of the ticket proceeds benefitted the Michael Mosier Defeat DIPG Foundation, a Bethesda-based nonprofit that funds research for DIPG, a type of pediatric brain cancer.
Mclenaghan, who bought VIP tickets for himself and his son, viewed the event as a perfect opportunity to support a cause that is important to him and his family while celebrating the historic Washington Capitals win over the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup final on June 7.
“We’re huge Caps fans obviously, been Caps fans for a long time, really excited about the Stanley Cup,” Mclenaghan said. “We also saw that this is for a great event, a great cause. In our family, we’ve lost people to brain cancer, so it was very touching, very relevant, so we wanted to support a good cause, come celebrate the Cup with a lot of other fans and enjoy July the fourth.”
The event included free pizza and hot dogs from Mamma Lucia, the unofficial restaurant for Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, and face painting and a balloon twister. The crowd, which filled nearly all of Bethesda Lane, attracted fans of all ages. One 13-year-old said he has always been a fan and fondly remembers the moment the Caps won.
“It was really exciting, I was watching the game on TV and me and my family just jumped up and cheered,” said the boy, who did not want to be identified.
The boy had a general admission ticket, but that didn’t prevent him from being excited to see the Cup.
“My mom sent me a text and I decided it’ll be fun,” he said, “even though I’m not a VIP I can still see the Stanley Cup up close,” he said.
Bob Gasperow, a native Washingtonian, has been a fan since the Capitals came to the District in 1974. Gasperow attended the event with his daughter, his son-in-law and his grandson.
“I’ve been following the Caps all these years and I’ve never really participated in something like this,” Gasperow said.
When an NHL team wins the Stanley Cup, it’s tradition that each player gets to spend a day with the trophy. Colleen Bowman, a D.C. resident, appreciated that Carlson decided to spend part of his day with the Cup and the July 4 holiday with Bethesda-area fans.
“It’s really exciting, it’s fun to see the city rally around the Caps and everyone show their pride,” Bowman said. “It just seemed like a fun way to spend the Fourth of July and rock the red white and blue.”
In addition to bringing the Cup to Bethesda Lane, Carlson also visited a Bethesda firehouse, a hospital and Columbia Country Club, according to the Washington Capitals Instagram page. Caps team captain Alex Ovechkin is the next player with the Cup and he plans to take the Cup to the World Cup before Russia’s quarterfinal game against Croatia on Saturday, according to a post on Ovechkin’s Instagram.
A raffle and Caps trivia contest were part of the festivities in Bethesda Row on Wednesday. Credit: Erin Doherty.