Fans at parade cheer on Penguins for Stanley Cup win

Pittsburgh Penguins fan Matt Nesbella, center, of Pittsburgh, waits for the start of the Penguins' NHL hockey Stanley Cup victory parade in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)


PITTSBURGH (AP) — Hundreds of cheering fans lined up Wednesday along downtown Pittsburgh streets for a parade to celebrate the Penguins’ Stanley Cup championship.

Planners say as many as 500,000 people could turn out. That would surpass the estimated 400,000 who attended last year’s celebration, which was the biggest for any of the team’s five Stanley Cup championships.

Karla and Don Donahue drove 30 miles from Freeport to claim their seats, already three fans deep, behind a security fence along the right side of a stage erected in Point State Park. They arrived at 2:30 a.m. but were greeted by other fans who arrived Tuesday night.

“Somebody up there said they were here since 8 o’clock last night,” Don Donanue, 64, said. Other fans said they’d driven eight hours from New York to get seats, he said.

This will be the third victory parade for the Donahues, who also came downtown for celebrations after the team’s Stanley Cup championships in 2009 and 2016. The team also won the Cup in 1991 and 1992 and became the first NHL team to repeat as champions since the Detroit Red Wings did it in 1997-98.

Karla Donahue, 60, said the couple never misses a game. If they’re not at PPG Paints Arena, they’re watching on TV.

“If we’re somewhere else, it’s on the radio. We haven’t missed a game in years,” she said, proudly showing off her Kris Letang jersey, which is autographed by the star defenseman whose neck surgery kept him out of the playoffs.

The parade route streets were scheduled to close by 9 a.m. for the 11 a.m. parade. The parade will run along Grant Street and Boulevard of the Allies as it did last year. But this year, it will continue into Point State Park, where players, coaches and other dignitaries will take the stage and speak to the fans.

The Penguins won the cup Sunday against the Nashville Predators with a 2-0 win in Game 6.