Hockey fans across the Region lined up on Thursday as the Stanley Cup made its way into town. Public viewings were available in Crown Point and Valparaiso during the day, making for an exciting event for fans of all ages.
Washington Capitals coach and former Valparaiso resident, Todd Reirden, was excited to bring the Stanley Cup to the area. Reirden lived in Valparaiso for 12 years and was eager to bring his love of hockey, and a bit of celebration, back to the Region.
“The real thing I wanted to bring to this area and share is that the people around here were always phenomenal to me,” Reirden said. “ I wanted this to be a way to give back and also build the game of hockey.”
The Washington Capitals had a successful year and captured the Stanley Cup in 2018. For Reirden, bringing it back to the area is all about inspiring people and promoting hockey as a sport. Part of his visit involved a way to give back to kids otherwise unable to purchase their own hockey equipment. One of the private showings required visitors and teams to bring new or gently used hockey equipment to donate.
“The game has been so important for me as a young person and learning life lessons of goal setting, teamwork, and overcoming obstacles,” Reirden said. “Whether it’s playing outdoors or somewhere else, I want hockey to be a possibility for young people.”
The public was certainly excited for the Cup to arrive. Carl Smead received a call from his brother, David, earlier in the week and decided it was an opportunity they couldn’t pass up. Together, the two lined up more than two hours before the Cup arrived to wait their turn.
“I think for the city this is great,” Carl said. “To think about the Cup, it’s been all over and now it’s here in Crown Point. It’s a wonderful feeling for us and hockey fans in the area.”
“It’s not every day that somebody well-known and something well-known come to town,” David added.
After travelling around the Region, the Stanley Cup made its way to Valparaiso for its final public viewing of the day. Central Park Plaza and the Urschel Pavilion provided a beautiful backdrop to the Cup’s final stop.
"Oh we estimate the turnout anywhere from 600-1,000 people,” said John Seibert, Director of the Valparaiso Parks and Recreation Department. “Our staff has done everything we could do to prepare for this, so our goal is move people through politely and firmly at a consistent pace. We want everyone to get their picture with the Cup.”
Since Reirden holds Valpo in a special place in his heart, he wanted to bring not only his success to Valpo, but also his love of the game. Valparaiso High School hockey players, hockey fans, and those who wanted to get their chance to see the world famous Stanley Cup were quick to notice Reirden’s passion and excitement, making the experience one they couldn’t forget.
"Well, Coach Reirden is from this area and his whole idea was to share his love of the sport of hockey. That's why the Valparaiso High School hockey and junior hockey team players are here,” said Seibert. “He wants to continue to promote ice skating and hockey, something that he benefited from as a young person, and look where he is now. He's wanting to promote that for others as well."
For more information about the Valpo Parks and Recreation Department, please visit https://www.valpoparks.org/.