PHILADELPHIA -- Madison Marks packed up her life in St. Louis and moved to suburban Philadelphia on Sunday to start a new job.
Her homesickness ended when she found The Jacks NYB, the tiny, members-only club that has become part of the lore surrounding the St. Louis Blues' run to their first Stanley Cup championship, which they won with a 4-1 victory at the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday.
"I had felt so homesick, and then I come here and I'm in St. Louis again," Marks said. "I find the only place like St. Louis on the East Coast and I'm here and I'm so in love with it, so happy I could cry. I was homesick and I came here and we win and every single person is cheering on my city. It's unreal. I cannot explain it."
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The Jacks NYB has 43 members who all march in the annual Mummers Parade, a New Year's Day tradition in Philadelphia, and are Philadelphia Flyers fans. Five Blues players -- forwards Jaden Schwartz, Alexander Steen and Robby Fabbri, and defensemen Robert Bortuzzo and Joel Edmundson -- walked into the bar Jan. 6 to watch the NFL playoff game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears. They came out singing "Gloria," the Laura Branigan hit from 1982 that was played in the club that night. It was The Jacks' victory song from their division win at the Mummers Parade.
The next day, Jordan Binnington won his first NHL start when the Blues defeated the Flyers 3-0, which began a 29-9-5 run for St. Louis to finish the regular season. "Gloria" became the Blues' victory song.
"This team was in last place and they go on a win streak the day after they left our club," said Mike Montecalvo, the Jacks NYB brigade captain, of the Blues, who were last in the NHL standings Jan. 3. "And they go on this win streak and they go on to win the Stanley Cup. This is a fairy tale."
The nonprofit club raised money by selling blue T-shirts with "Play Gloria" on them. Cover charges for the Cup Final games went toward food, drinks and two televisions set up outside for fans to watch when they couldn't fit inside the converted row home.
As the legend of "Gloria" grew, The Jacks became a destination for travelers to the East Coast from St. Louis.
That includes Jessie Golio, a 37-year-old St. Louis native who woke up Wednesday morning, called out of work and flew from there to Philadelphia to watch Game 7 with her friend, Justin Carroll, who was here on business.
"We've watched the whole [Stanley Cup] Playoffs together and I knew he was going to be here," she said. "And I was not going to let him have all the fun. So I flew in today to watch with him."
Golio said she had followed The Jacks on social media but was overwhelmed by the crowd of about 500 that packed the bar and filled up the blocked-off street outside to watch the game.
"It just felt like home," she said. "I had to be here. ... The fact that [Philadelphia] adopted our team and grabbed them like their own team is just amazing."
The feeling has been reciprocated by fans in St. Louis. Thomas Schlafly, a minority owner of the Blues and owner of Schlafly Beer, a St. Louis staple, visited The Jacks before the start of the Cup Final and brought about a dozen cases of the family brew.
And Matt Morgan, who lives in the St. Louis suburbs, owns a sign company and builds bar-top tables, drove to Philadelphia for Game 4 of the Cup Final with a "Play Gloria" table for The Jacks. He was back for Game 7.
"This is an awesome group of guys," Morgan said. "I couldn't imagine watching Game 7 anywhere else."
"Gloria" was played after each Blues goal Wednesday, then repeatedly when Game 7 ended.
The party carried on long after the Cup was passed around TD Garden by the Blues and will continue for about 30 club members who are headed to St. Louis for the victory parade on Saturday.
"I'm living the dream," said Montecalvo, who will be among those traveling to St. Louis. "I'm a very lucky guy. ... We would have never expected this to happen to us. We're a little corner bar in the middle of South Philly. You could have never expected this to blow up into what it is. I'm at a loss for words. I'm a Blues fan right now."