DETROIT (AP) -For the third time this century, Detroit sports fans are heading downtown to celebrate a major sports championship.
Thousands of red-and-white-clad Wing nuts are expected to jam Woodward Avenue for a chance to see a parade Friday in honor of the team brought the Stanley Cup back to Hockeytown. It will end with a rally at Hart Plaza on the city's riverfront
These Red Wings are following in the footsteps of the 2002 team and the 2004 Pistons, who celebrated their triumphs with similar downtown processions. The Red Wings clinched the Stanley Cup on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.
The weather should cooperate with sunny skies and temperatures in the 80s when the parade featuring Red Wings players, coaches and staff kicks off before noon at the Hockeytown Cafe.
Hundreds of Red Wings fans lined up hours ahead of the parade.
One woman was sprawled face-down on a blanket, catching some sleep after securing her position along the route. Others put on sunscreen and waved back to the occasional honk from supportive drivers going by.
Huntington Woods resident Erica Konstant, 34, said she arrived by 6 a.m., her young niece and nephew in tow.
"We wanted to soak in the excitement of the day," Konstant said. "You meet some interesting people when you're here this early."
While some clutched coffee mugs, Derrick Arnew and Brad Roets cracked open beers. The two arrived from Tilbury, Ontario, with eight others in an RV around midnight to camp out in a parking lot near the parade route.
"We just wanted to get here early and get a good spot," said Arnew, 33.
The group, which included one man with a goal-light hat, had their chairs set up near Hockeytown Cafe. They planned to barbecue in a nearby lot and brought water and juice to go along with the brews.
Roets, a 33-year-old longtime fan with a Red Wings tattoo on his shoulder, said he wanted to see one thing in particular at the parade: "All their wives."
Associated Press Writer Margaret Harding contributed to this report.