Posts Tagged ‘Washington Capitals’

Today’s Capitals’ Victory Parade and Rally

With the Washington Capitals winning their first Stanley Cup in franchise history last week, D.C. celebrated its first major sports championship in 26 years with a victory parade today. It all began with truly fanatical fans congregating near the parade’s stage before 4:00am, a full seven hours before it was scheduled to begin. As the morning progressed, Metro stations and downtown streets were clogged with fans clad in red. And by 8:30am thousands had already lined the parade route, although the start of the parade was still more than two hours away.

The parade finally kicked off at 11:00 a.m., starting at the intersection of Constitution Avenue and 17th Street (MAP) near The Washington Monument, and proceeding east along Constitution Avenue to Seventh Street. There it turned right, where it culminated with a rally on the National Mall (MAP).

During the away games throughout the Stanley Cup finals series, thousands of people packed the streets around the Capital One Arena in downtown D.C. for watch parties. And when the Caps actually won the cup, police said they dealt with a mostly peaceful crowd. In fact, not one person had to be arrested. But it was difficult to predict what today’s celebration would be like because there was a big unknown factor when it came to today’s parade and rally. And that was the size of the crowd which would show up.

D.C. is certainly no stranger when it comes to hosting parades and marches. Hundreds of thousands of people attended the March for Our Lives on the National Mall earlier this year. But it’s been awhile since the city hosted a victory parade.

A massive crowd of more than 600,000 fans showed up for the Washington Redskins’ Super Bowl XXII victory parade in 1988. That prompted the D.C. police to limit the size of subsequent celebrations. So in 1992, when the Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI and held a victory rally on the National Mall, a more moderate yet respectable crowd of 75,000 people showed up. And in 1997, when the D.C. United won the Major League Soccer title, there was a nine-block parade along Pennsylvania Avenue. The Washington Post said “several hundred” people showed up for that parade and described the crowd as “small, but enthusiastic.”

But with different variables and unknown factors, such as it being the city’s first National Hockey League championship, the parade being held on a weekday when many people had to be at work, and whether yesterday’s rain would stop in time for the rally, it was a matter of wait and see when it came to the crowd size and what would happen.

Eventually a crowd estimated at around 100,000 people (100,001 if you include me) showed up to line the parade route and “Rock the Red” in support of the Stanley Cup champions, and watch the procession led from the rear by team captain and future hall of famer Alexander Ovechkin, who was atop a double-decker, open-top bus holding the Stanley Cup aloft for all to see. He was preceded by marching bands, Mayor Muriel Bowser and other officials, a Clydesdales-drawn Budweiser beer wagon, his teammates, and even a Zamboni.

We then proceeded to the rally which, like at the watch parties, was mostly peaceful. But it was not subdued by any means. There were a number of short speeches, including team owner Ted Leonsis, Head Coach Barry Trotz, and each of the players. One of the more memorable comments came from right winger Nicklas Backstrom, who proclaimed, “Finally, we started playing hockey like we can party.” The rally ended with a sing-along of Queen’s song “We are the Champions,” led by Alex Ovechkin. All in all it was a fitting celebration to an historic season for the franchise and for the city.

So now it’s up to the Washington Nationals. If they can keep playing well through the summer, who knows? We may be having another victory parade here in D.C. around the end or October of beginning of November.

        

          
[Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]

Note:  While the celebration was going on here in D.C., a full page ad, bought by the Capitals, was running in a Las Vegas newspaper to congratulate the Vegas Golden Knights, who they defeated last week for the Stanley Cup, on having such an outstanding season.

The ad reads, “Congratulations to the Vegas Golden Knights on the most successful inaugural season in the history of professional sports. World class ownership, front office, coaching staff and people. A magnificent team of talented, hard-working players and stars. A fantastic venue filled with passionate, loud and proud fans. It was an honor to compete against you in the Stanley Cup Final. You are truly VEGAS STRONG.”

Now that’s #CapsClass.

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27 – Seagulls near a puddle in the parking lot at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

Below I have included more photos that I took at different times over the past year, but were not previously included in this blog.  They had not been previously posted because what they depict are not necessarily main ingredients in what I like to call the recipe of this city.  I consider them to be more like ingredients that contribute to the overall flavor.  I hope you enjoy them.  And I hope you will continue to follow this blog, and enjoy the posts as much as I enjoy everything that goes into them.

28 2016eoy201  29 2016eoy24  30 2016eoy28

31  2016eoy29  32 2016eoy54  33 2016eoy32

34 2016eoy33  35 2016eoy31  36 2016eoy35

37 2016eoy34  38 2016eoy38  39 2016eoy40

40 2016eoy43  41 zzzzz-2  42 2016eoy45

43 2016eoy19  44 2016eoy27  45 2016eoy41

46 2016eoy46  47 2016eoy47  48 2016eoy48

49 15232246_10209163757543724_7000823876345065174_n  50 2016eoy50

51 2016eoy51  52 2016eoy30
[Click on the photos above to view the full size versions]

27 – Seagulls near a puddle in the parking lot at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.
28 – One of the mid-day summer performances in Franklin Square Park.
29 – The Suburbia airstream bar in the parking lot in front of Union Market.
30 – An altered stop sign in the H Street Corridor. (I couldn’t get the song out of my head for the rest of the ride.)
31 – A weary-looking bike tourer and his dog in front of the Trump International Hotel.
32 – The Chocolate City mural in an alley near 14th and S Streets in the U Street Corridor.
33 – One of the colorful artworks at the National Zoo made entirely of trash taken from the ocean.
34 – An overview of the WMATA rail yard in Brentwood.
35 – A peaceful promotion of Islam and the Al-Islam online digital library by a young woman handing out roses.
36 – A colorful knight, or at least suit of armor, guarding the balcony of an apartment on Capitol Hill.
37 – Some promoters of Red Nose Day raising awareness and money to help raise kids out of poverty.
38 – A clock on the side of a building on 14th Street in the U Street Corridor.
39 – An artist working and displaying his wares on the sidewalk near Eastern Market.
40 – Evidence of an eviction in front of an apartment building in Downtown D.C.
41 – The iconic dome of the U.S. Capitol Building towering over trees on the Capitol grounds.
42 – A Muslim protestor in front of the White House taking a break.
43 – One of the many Little Free Libraries I have seen throughout D.C.
44 – An antique Good Humor ice cream truck in front of the Smithsonian Museum of American History.
45 – A promotion for the Washington Capitals using the DuPont Circle Fountain.
46 – Demolition of an office building at the corner of 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.
47 – Mushrooms at the Department of Agriculture Outdoor Farmers Market.
48 – Construction on the southwest waterfront development project.
49 – A homeless man in a doorway on 8th Street, ironically next door to The Lansburgh, a luxury apartment building.
50 – A company car for a marijuana advocacy and investment group.
51 – A lone gun rights advocate demonstrating in front of the White House.
52 – The Spirit of Washington dining ship in the Washington Channel.

NOTE:  Check out Part 1 of my year-end collection of various photos on yesterday’s post.

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken

I recently had a craving for a doughnut. But I was not looking for the kind of generic, mass-produced doughnut that you usually get in a supermarket, a convenience store, or even one of the national doughnut shop chains. I wanted a fresh specialty gourmet doughnut. The kind you can only get in a local bakery or restaurant. During its recent “Dozen Weeks of Doughnuts Contest,” The Washington Post named the Crème Brûlée doughnut, the signature treat at Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, the best in the city.  Astro actually had two of the top three doughnuts in D.C., with its Peanut Butter and Jelly version coming in third place. So with two of the top three doughnuts in the city, Astro seemed like the place to go to satisfy my craving. It also seemed like a good choice for my traditional end-of-the-month restaurant review for the month of October.

Part of Metro Center in northwest D.C.’s Downtown neighborhood, Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken is conveniently located at 1308 G Street (MAP), across the street from the Church of the Epiphany, and just a little over a block away from the White House. Opened just last year by longtime friends and native Washingtonians Elliot Spaisman and Jeff Halpern, they were inspired to open the shop by their longstanding tradition of enjoying a doughnut after playing hockey together.

Halpern went on to become a professional hockey player, and was the first native Washingtonian to play for the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League (NHL). Currently an unrestricted free agent, Halpern has also played in the NHL for the Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens and most recently, the Phoenix Coyotes. However, despite a successful career in sports, he may be better known in the long run for doughnuts if the ones I’ve tried are an indicator.

The creative force behind the doughnuts at Astro is Chef Jason Gehring, who has cooked in kitchens ranging from D.C.’s own Fiola and Poste to Baltimore’s Charleston and New York City’s famous Payard Bakery. Utilizing seasonal fruit and produce from local farmers, and high-end ingredients, the standard flavors each day include the Crème Brûlée and PB&J, along with Maple Bacon and Vanilla Bean Glaze. There are also various flavors that rotate onto the menu, depending on the season and availability of fresh ingredients. They include Piña Colada, Carrot Cake, Pink Grapefruit, Creamsicle, Banana Nut, Applesauce, Coconut Cake, Passionfruit Berry, Salted Caramel, Pistachio, Pumpkin Latte, and one called Brooklyn Blackout, which is devil’s food cake with chocolate glaze and cookie crumbs.

My favorite by far, however, is the one I had on this bike ride, the Key Lime Pie doughnut. It was actually the best doughnut I’ve ever eaten. Dense and moist, it was deliciously tart, with a strip of candied lime to top it off. The taste was spot on to the legendary dessert, making it easy to imagine being transported to southern Florida and having breakfast with the Key West locals, or as they’re called there, “conchs.”

And the chicken at Astro is almost as good as the doughnuts, which is saying a lot. The classic fried chicken is tender, succulent and flavorful, with just the right amount of crunchiness and seasoning.  They also offer a variety of flavors and different kinds of chicken, from the Sriracha or spicy garlic chicken wings, to the Old Bay or Buffalo chicken sandwiches, they are all good enough to cause making a decision to be difficult.

Like several other restaurants I have reviewed here on this blog in the past, Astro has no seating and are a business only. And if I had to come up with a criticism of Astro, it would be that different doughnuts and kinds of chicken are only available on certain days.  Also, there is a potential for them to run out of certain menu items, particularly the most popular choices. But these are first-world problems which are easily remedied if you follow my advice, which is, “Definitely go there, know what you want, and the earlier you get there the better.”

Astros03     Astros04     Astros02
[Click on the photos above to view the full size versions]

The Friendship Arch in Chinatown

The Friendship Arch in Chinatown

On this bike ride I not only rode to but also under my destination, which was the Friendship Archway located just east of the intersection of 7th and H Streets (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Chinatown neighborhood.  The finished arch, or “paifang” in Chinese, is an impressive engineering achievement, standing 47 feet tall at the top of its highest roof, spanning 75 feet of roadway, and weighing over 128 tons. The roofing alone weighs 63 tons, supported by 27 tons of steel and 38 tons of concrete. Over 7,000 glazed tiles cover its five roofs, and 35,000 separate wooden pieces are decorated with 23-karat gold.  Reminiscent of the architecture from the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Friendship Arch’s seven pagoda-style roofs have golden color symbolic of wealth and honor, and hundreds of ornately painted dragons to welcome visitors to D.C.’s historic Chinatown neighborhood.  Constructed in 1986, it was said to have been the largest Chinese archway in the world at that time, which is ironic inasmuch as it serves as a gateway to what may be the smallest Chinatown in the United States.

D.C.’s Chinatown is located between H and I Streets and 5th and 8th Streets in the northwest quadrant of the city.  It originally developed in the late 19th century around Pennsylvania Avenue near 4th Street, where John Marshall Place Park is now.  Like many immigrant populations during that time, Chinese immigrants faced discrimination and downright hostility.  The creation of Chinatowns in D.C. and in other cities around the country was in part a defense mechanism to create safe havens where new immigrants could find shelter, sustenance, and employment.  D.C’s original Chinatown was forcibly disbanded in 1931 when the land was taken over by the government for municipal projects, but a new Chinatown was soon established in the location where it remains today.

Just a half a century later, however, Chinatown seemed on the verge of extinction. By the early 1980’s, many successful neighborhood residents and businesses had departed for safer and more prosperous parts of the city, or for the suburbs in Virginia and Maryland.  Chinatown still had a small cluster of restaurants and grocery stores, but the decline of the neighborhood, and the broader downtown area as a whole, made many wonder whether commercial establishments could remain viable in the future.  Chinatown community leaders, including chairman of the Chinatown Development Corporation and local architect Alfred H. Liu, who would go on to design the arch, argued in favor of creating a visible attraction that would serve as a magnet for visitors.

Within a few years, Mayor Marion Barry and other top city officials took a trip to Beijing to promote D.C. as an international business and finance center.  The trip was also in reciprocation for Beijing Mayor Chen Xitong’s visit to D.C. the previous fall.  This led to an agreement to establish D.C. and Beijing as sister cities.  And as part of the agreement, the two cities arranged to work together on a project to build a traditional archway in D.C.’s Chinatown.  The connection to Bejing and the People’s Republic of China met with objections from some Chinatown residents and business leaders, fearing that the Friendship Arch and Chinatown would be associated with the communist regime.  The arch’s opponents had enough clout to get their city council representative, John Wilson, to introduce a resolution opposing the arch’s construction.  And for a time there was talk of constructing a second, separate arch to rival the Friendship Arch.  In the end, plans for a rival arch never materialized, and upon its completion the Friendship Arch was widely embraced and celebrated.

Within a few years of its completion, however, the arch unexpectedly began to deteriorate.  At first a few tiles fell off.  Then, in June of 1990, one of the 100-pound carved dragons fell off and landed on the roof of a truck. Some saw it has an omen.  Since such a gateway traditionally is, among other things, a manifestation of imperial splendor, some Chinese would say the fall of one of its dragons portends the emperor’s own immanent fall.  Sure enough, on that same evening Mayor Marion Barry took to the airwaves to announce that he would be stepping down when his term ended and not running again in the fall elections, as he had been planning.  Barry had been arrested at the Vista Hotel in a sting operation in January; he would be found guilty of one charge of possession of cocaine and sentenced to a 6-month prison term.  In 1993 a major renovation project was undertaken, and the restoration of the Friendship Arch was completed shortly after Marion Barry was released from prison to be elected to the city council and then re-elected mayor.

Today D.C.’s Chinatown is home to a number of Chinese restaurants, a Chinese video store, a handful of general stores, and Chinese American cultural and religious charities.  It is also home to big national chain stores and restaurants, a theater, offices and high rise condominiums, and the Verizon Center, a sports and entertainment arena for the Washington Capitals and the Washington Wizards.  Unfortunately, the revitalization of the neighborhood is also a factor that contributed to the decline of its ethnic character.  But the Friendship Archway remains an enduring and iconic symbol of Chinatown’s heritage.