Posts Tagged ‘Washington Redskins’

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.


The Vienna Inn

There are plenty of noteworthy restaurants in this city that that are worthy of recognition, but I chose an establishment outside of D.C. for the first time this month because the place I went to is just that good.  Located at 120 Maple Avenue in Vienna, Virginia (MAP), I rode to The Vienna Inn for lunch, and for February’s end-of-the-month restaurant review for this blog.

Draped in smoke and the aroma of chili dogs and beer, “The Inn” as it is often fondly referred to, has been a preeminent “dive” in the Northern Virginia area for more than half a century. Opened in 1960 by Mike and Mollie Abraham, the restaurant’s décor falls squarely within the category of “Restaurants That Time Forgot.” The classic neighborhood restaurant and bar has changed so little since it opened that one would be hard pressed to know what decade it currently is from its no-frills eclectic decor, which includes wood-paneled walls adorned with photographs and trophies from local area sports teams sponsored by The Vienna Inn over the years, as well as hand-drawn works of art from their youngest patrons, pinball machines in a corner, vintage booths and tables, all of which wobble and creak, and dim lighting that somehow just puts you at ease. And despite being sold by the Abraham family in 2000, current owner Marty Volk and manager Katie Herron have been able to maintain the same traditional laid-back and friendly atmosphere.

Despite being a dive bar, The Inn enjoys the dichotomy of also being a family-friendly restaurant as well. Despite an always boisterous crowd, one of its main differences from other bars is that cursing is not allowed in The Inn – even if you’re a local icon, like Washington Redskins Hall of Fame running back John Riggins. There is a local story about John Riggins visiting The Inn one night and using profanity, at which point the whole place went quiet. After being appropriately chastised by the owner, he had to stand up and apologize to the crowd for cursing. At that point he was told that he could stay.

The Inn is known for its chili, especially its ridiculously inexpensive chili dogs and French fries, which are my favorite. The fact that they sell more than 10,000 chili dogs every month indicates how good they are. But there is enough variety on the menu that there is definitely something for almost every taste. You can start off with their take on classic bar food and appetizers such as Buffalo Shrimp, Fried Red Chili Peppers or Boneless Chicken Wings. But don’t fill up too quickly, because the rest of the menu is not to be missed. You can enjoy lighter fare such as their soup of the day or a fresh salad. The Blackened Tuna Salad is particularly good. But if you’re hungering for something more substantial, classic comfort food such as meatloaf is always a good choice.  As I said, their world famous chili dogs and fries are my go-to choice, but if you’re still looking for something else I also highly recommend any of their more than two dozen varieties of specialty sandwiches and burgers.

And don’t forget breakfast. The Inn opens early, at 7:00am every day except Sunday, when they open at 9:00am.  And it’s worth a separate trip for their extensive breakfast menu. They offer all the morning basics.  But their offerings also include such diverse choices as Tex-Mex omelets, chocolate-chip hotcakes, cream chipped beef on toast, salami and scrambled eggs, and fat French toast. In my opinion, if you can’t find something you like on their menu, at breakfast or any other time of the day, then you’re either not trying or not hungry.

Finally, adding to The Inn’s distinctive nature is the fact that it’s also a great haunt for area bike riders. I frequently enjoy a stop for breakfast while on a long weekend bike ride on the nearby Washington & Old Dominion Rail Trail, which runs through the town of Vienna and right past The Inn, which is located near Milepost 11.5.  The bike racks out front serve as a welcome mat to area bike riders, but everyone is always welcome at The Inn.



Scabby the Rat

Ask the average resident who the biggest rat in D.C. is, and you’ll probably get a variety of responses.  The replies will range from a number of politicians from both poltical parties, to Daniel Snyder, the owner of The Washington Redskins.  And while those may be valid answers in their own right, the rat to which I’m referring is one that I saw on a recent bike ride.  His name is Scabby.

Scabby the Rat is a giant inflatable rat with sharp, menacing buckteeth and claws, beady red eyes and a belly scattered with festering scabs and swollen nipples.  He is used by protesting or striking labor unions as part of protests against companies which are utilizing nonunion employees or contractors, serving as a sign of opposition and to call public attention to those companies’ practices.

The original Scabby was born in 1990, when the Chicago bricklayers union was looking for something big and nasty to get their point across at a protest.  They ended up having the Big Sky Balloons and Searchlights Company fabricate a custom-designed  inflatable rat, which the union used as the centerpiece of their protest.   They opted for using the inflatable character because of the use of the word “rat” to refer to nonunion contractors.

After participating in that first protest, Scabby the Rat quickly caught on with other unions.  Business began booming for the Big Sky Company, which found itself taking orders from all over the country.  Today Scabby’s decendants come in a variety of sizes and appearances, and can be found thriving throughout the United States.  Scabby has even been spotted  on front page of the Wall Street Journal, as well as the New Yorker magazine and the New York Times.  Scabby can also be spotted in an episode of The Sopranos.  In fact, Scabby the Rat has his own Facebook page.

Ever since unions began using Scabby, many of the companies being picketed have filed lawsuits trying to exterminate Scabby, charging that the use of the giant inflatable rats constituted unlawful picketing.  Although some courts initially agreed and barred Scabby from appearing, the National Labor Relations Board ruled in 2011 that the use of the inflatable rat is not considered an unlawful activity in that it constituted symbolic speech.

And with that ruling, I think we can expect to see the rat population grow even bigger.