Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Capitals, announced details of the celebration Friday. The company applied for a permit from the National Park Service on Thursday morning, hours before the Capitals beat the Golden Knights in Las Vegas to take home the team’s first Stanley Cup.
Organizers are encouraging attendees to take Metro to the parade and gather from 17th to Seventh streets NW for “optimal viewing,” a spokeswoman for Monumental said. Additional information, including rally speakers, will be released in coming days.
Judging by the thousands who gathered in the Gallery Place area Thursday night to watch the game on giant screens, a massive crowd is expected.
The permit application listed an expected attendance of “100,000 ++.”
Metro said it would run rush-hour service all day to accommodate the crowds.
Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said Thursday night the parade would be “much bigger than everyone is expecting.”
“We want to be able to say thank you to people in Virginia and Maryland and Washington, D.C. My goal is to create something that elevates and unites all of the people in our community, so people think happy thoughts about Washington, D.C.,” Leonsis said on the ice, according to ESPN.
Although Washington is no stranger to pomp and circumstance, with a presidential inauguration every four years, the annual Cherry Blossom Festival Parade and a seemingly constant churn of demonstrations and rallies, the nation’s capital has not captured a major sports title since the Redskins’ 1992 Super Bowl victory.
D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said the city is well prepared to handle the Caps celebration and has been planning for weeks.
“Washington, D.C., is a place where we hold a parade almost every weekend. This is something we do and we do very well,” Newsham told WTOP radio on Friday.
Monumental Sports & Entertainment encouraged attendees to take public transportation or ride-hailing services because of limited parking near the Mall. Fans are also asked to bring their own water. As of Friday afternoon, forecasters were predicting a dry day with a high of 80 degrees.
“We ask everyone to continue to Rock the Red responsibly on Tuesday,” Monumental said in a news release.
Some are already offering their services for the Capitals parade, among them the D.C. fire department’s pipes and drums band.
The 1992 Redskins celebration was a peaceful rally on the Mall that drew about 75,000. Officials purposely planned a more low-key affair after a raucous parade that followed the team’s Super Bowl victory in 1988. That event on Pennsylvania Avenue drew 600,000, some of whom stormed barricades. Thirty-one people were arrested.
There’s also the question of how politics will bleed into the festivities.
The official Twitter account for the D.C. Council, which once declared “Tanks, but No Tanks” to President Trump’s proposed military parade, shared a photo of Barack Obama on Friday, commemorating the Capitals’ title-winning 44th season with a photo of the 44th president.
It’s unclear whether the Capitals will celebrate their victory at the White House, a tradition that has become controversial since Trump took office. Trump withdrew an invitation for the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles this week once he learned that only a few players from the team were planning to come. Last year, he said the NBA champion Golden State Warriors were not welcome after star player Stephen Curry said he would not go to the White House.
At least one Capitals player, Devante Smith-Pelly, told Canada’s Postmedia this week that he would not accept an invitation from Trump because “the things that he spews are straight-up racist and sexist.”
Asked Friday whether he would invite the Capitals, the president suggested it was up to the players.
“If they want to be here — it’s the greatest place on earth — I’m here,” Trump told reporters. “If they don’t want to be here, I don’t want them.”