PITTSBURGH -- The early bird may get the worm, but on Thursday the early Penguin got the best seat outside the house.
Dressed in a penguin costume, Sarah Ford had a perfect view of the video screen in front of Consol Energy Center showing Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks.
With the Penguins leading the best-of-7 series 3-1 and having a chance to win the Stanley Cup on home ice for the first time, thousands of fans watched in front of the arena. Ford, who claimed her spot at 10 a.m. - 10 hours before puck drop - was one of the closest to the screen.
"You have to get here early," said Ford, from North Apollo, Pa.
Ford, who moved from New Jersey to western Pennsylvania in November, was experiencing the mayhem outside of the arena for the first time. Christian Ditadoda from Bloomfield, Pa., said he has been here for every Penguins playoff game this season.
"I love it," Ditadoda said. "We're like one big happy family."
Big is an understatement. Fans were packed about 30-to-40 across and all the way up the hill on Washington Place.
A Consol Energy Center security guard estimated over 15,000 fans were watching the game outside. He said it was the biggest crowd he had ever seen.
The Penguins were trying to become the first Pittsburgh team to clinch a major sports championship at home since the Pirates won the World Series in 1960, but were defeated 4-2.