ST. LOUIS -- When you've waited 52 years for a Stanley Cup, what's several hours of braving thunderstorms to stake out a coveted patch of downtown sidewalk or Arch grounds grass?
"This is the biggest party St. Louis has ever seen," said Randy Sapienza, 36, who was below the Arch as the parade started. He estimated that the crowd on hand was larger than when the Cardinals won the World Series in 2011.
He said the attendance was a testament to the hunger and passion of area fans, describing St. Louis as a "great hockey town" filled with "diehards."
For Dan Munson, losing a night of sleep was not too big a sacrifice to get his 5-year-old son a front-row seat to history.
Munson, of O'Fallon Mo., had planned to arrive downtown at the crack of dawn Saturday when he heard on the 10 p.m. news that the best spots in Kiener Plaza were already filled.
So he headed down and staked his claim on the sidewalk in front of Stifel Theatre at 11 p.m. Friday.
He just had a chair. As the night wore on, he said, a tent would pop up here and there on the sidewalk.
By 3 a.m., Bob Pinkley had arrived from Crystal City with his crew of 15 others. His group grew under their pop-up tent until he was joined by 30 by 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
"We wanted to make sure we were on the front row to see the guys who won the cup," said Pinkley, 52. "I've been waiting my whole life for this cup."
By the time the parade started, the route and rally site under the Arch were packed with people.