WASHINGTON -- Fans gathered by the thousands outside Capital One Arena for an ALL CAPS Hockey Fest before Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday.
Some were there to watch a pregame concert by recording artists Sting and Shaggy on a stage in front of the National Portrait Gallery. Others were cheering behind the set of the NHL Network on F Street at the front entrance to the arena. The ALL CAPS Family Zone down the block offered face painting, glitter tattoos, poster-making stations and balloon artists for kids.
Ed Schudel, 50, a Fairfax, Virginia, native, has been a Capitals fan since the late 1970s. Two hours before the game, he braved rain showers to get a seat on the National Portrait Gallery steps across 7th Street from the arena.
[RELATED: Complete Golden Knights vs. Capitals series coverage]
That's where red-clad Capitals fans have been gathering all spring after games, home and away, to celebrate Stanley Cup Playoff wins.
"This feels like the combination of a block party and the Fourth of July," Schudel said. "Like an over-the-top Fourth of July party, but in a good way. I think this city needs it and it's just nice to see people happy and excited about the game."
Video: VGK@WSH, Gm3: Sting and Shaggy take the stage
Schudel didn't even have a ticket to Game 3. He was just going to sit on the steps and watch on a big screen on the 7th Street side of the arena.
Liz and Mike Shannon of Joppa, Maryland, did have seats. They bought season tickets three years ago.
The Shannons are long-time Capitals fans. Mike, 33, grew up in Largo, Maryland, near the old Capital Centre, Washington's former home arena in the suburbs, and his family had season tickets then. Liz has been a fan for about a decade. They watched the Sting and Shaggy concert, but were ready to get inside a building that has special meaning to them.
The Shannons were married at center ice of Capital One Arena on Oct. 5, 2014, three hours before a preseason game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Their families were allowed to watch from the benches.
Capitals television play-by-play broadcaster Joe Beninati and analyst Craig Laughlin even read poems at the ceremony and announced the newlyweds. Mike Shannon had connected with Laughlin through Facebook and the Capitals helped facilitate the event. Later, everyone celebrated at the reception in a suite during the game.
But the Shannons don't miss many games, and they certainly weren't going to stay home for Game 3. Plans to arrive at 10 a.m. were scuttled by the dicey weather forecast, but they made the hour drive from Joppa and were enjoying the music two hours before puck drop before moving through the thick crowds to the arena entrance.
"This is a dream come true for us," Mike Shannon said. "I remember in  as a child coming down to D.C. when they finally made a [Cup] run. It was a four-game sweep so it didn't last very long. The fact that they won a game in Vegas makes this hard to believe. This is reality."
Stanley Cup Final Coverage
Golden Knights vs. Capitals
Stanley Cup Final Schedule