A large crowd gave a big round of applause when the helicopter carrying Michael Ryder and the Stanley Cup touched down at the RCMP station in Bonavista last Tuesday.
First to get a glimpse of the cup were family and friends. As the cup was taken out of its case and Michael hoisted it over his head fans cheered.
It was the moment everyone had waited for: to see one of their own raise the most coveted prize in hockey.
For local residents it was a time to welcome home their hero and Stanley Cup champion. Also on hand were people from all over the province and other parts of the country, even visitors who made the long drive from Happy Valley, Labrador and a few who crossed the border from Saint Pierre.
Everyone wanted to get a glimpse of hockey’s holy grail.
Thousands of people lined the parade route cheering and waving each time Michael raised the cup over his head.
Some of the largest crowds were in the downtown area where people came outside their workplace to see Michael and the Stanley Cup as it rolled through town before winding up at the Cabot Stadium.
Inside the stadium minor hockey players and figure skaters along with their coaches and parents waited anxiously to have their picture taken with their hockey hero and the Stanley Cup. They weren’t disappointed.
Ryder made a stop in front of each group so that parents could take photos of their children with Michael and the cup. Even the youngest of the figure skaters were in awe of the Stanley Cup and Michael Ryder. They knew it was something special.
For an hour Michael made his way around the stadium, smiling and shaking hands with coaches and players alike.
Following the photo session inside the stadium activities moved outdoors to the softball where throngs of people were gathered. Several special guests were on hand for the celebrations including Premier Kathy Dunderdale, MP Scott Simms, Liberal opposition leader Kevin Aylward and Lorraine Michael, Leader of the New Democrat Party.
Mayor Betty Fitzgerald welcomed everybody to Bonavista.
“Welcome to our beautiful historic town of Bonavista,” says Fitzgerald. “I’m sure you’re going to have fun today.”
“What a day in Bonavista,” Doug Robbins exclaimed for the podium. Robbins served 28 years as manager of the Cabot Stadium before his retirement a couple of years ago. He is now the deputy mayor of Bonavista.
“I saw Michael from the first time he stepped on the ice. I saw him grow as a hockey player. I knew Michael had something special,” says Robbins. “I knew he had aspirations to play in the National Hockey League, it was no surprise to me that he made it. He was that good.”
When it came time for Michael to speak the crowd erupted with chants of Ryder, Ryder, Ryder.
“Well I didn’t expect this many people,” said Ryder. “Thanks for coming out. I hope you have a good day. Thanks for the support you’ve shown me over the years and I’m happy to bring the Stanley Cup to Bonavista. Hope you have lots of fun today.”
Thousands lined up to have their picture taken with the Stanley Cup and despite the long wait, nobody seemed to mind. They were just glad to be on hand for the celebrations. For some it was a four and a half hour wait. But as they made their way closer to the front of the line they were still beaming knowing their time with Lord Stanley’s Cup was near.