ST. LOUIS -- Alex Pietrangelo had the Stanley Cup in his hands, the St. Louis Blues captain ending the parade but continuing the celebration of their first NHL championship in their 51 seasons.
"It's been amazing, let me tell you," Pietrangelo said to the crowd that gathered for a post-parade rally at the Gateway Arch. "This is unbelievable. Unbelievable. ... We all know what it's about. It's about the fans, the family.
"I said in an interview at the end of the season: We're a bunch of messed-up individuals together. From the coaches all the way down, here we go. Look at this. This is amazing. Amazing."
Video: Best moments from the Blues Championship Parade
What started as a cloudy and rainy day ended in sunshine, with an estimated 500,000 people watching the Blues travel east on Market Street through downtown St. Louis on the way to the Arch.
"Beyond anything I could have imagined," Blues owner Tom Stillman said. "I thought there'd be a lot of people, but it's a block or two deep at some points. Wow.
"... What a jolt of energy for a city, and that's the best thing that sports can do, is bring people together, bring positive energy to the home city."
Players took turns walking the route with the Cup, including Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP Ryan O'Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen. St. Louis native Pat Maroon walked with his young son Anthony, who later took to the stage and led a "Let's Go Blues!" chant.
"I'm a hometown hero, baby!" Pat Maroon said to the crowd. "Put your glasses up right now St. Louis. We're Stanley Cup champs baby!"
The Blues entered the NHL in 1967-68 and played in the Stanley Cup Final their first three seasons. This was their first time in the championship round since then, and their victory ended the longest active Stanley Cup drought.
Craig Berube, who took over as coach Nov. 19 and helped the Blues rise from last in the NHL standings, was greeted with chants of "Chief! Chief! Chief!", his nickname from his days as a player.
"It's awesome. I've never seen anything like it in my life," Berube said. "What an incredible experience to be down here today, the parade and everything. It's unbelievable. I'm so happy for the city and the fans. They deserved it, but more than anything, I'm so happy for our players because of how hard they played, prepared, through leadership coming through and winning that Cup.
"They came together at some point. It all started to work out. Leadership, character and hard work through January, February and most of March, being on the road that much and winning that many games, it just goes to show the hard work and character of our players.
"That's why we're Stanley Cup champions."