Friday, April 02, 2010

My Day With The Stanley Cup

Once I saw the invitation to the Heinz History Center in downtown Pittsburgh, I feared that this was going to be my last best opportunity to finally touch and view the most hallowed trophy in all of professional sports. It was a chilly spring day at the Heinz History Center, I arrived immediately in a mental conflict trying to decide just what jersey I should wear. After having missed several other opportunities to see the Stanley Cup, I wanted this one to be a great experience because not only would I have to report back to everybody on my blog, but have also a memory to last a lifetime.

Since the appearance was advertised, I was afraid that I was going to be standing in line all day. My brother and I went in through the front door, but no farther. I couldn't see hockey's greatest prize from the doorway, but gathered from all the other people talking that it was already on display. We had to wait in the lobby before we even got to the doors of the History Center Museum that housed not only the Cup but much other items that carried so much history for the whole region. My brother and I waited in line making acquaintances with the other people in line. I could barely see the whole display for what took us an hour and 10 minutes to reach the true destination.

After being thwarted from flirting with the pretty young cashier, my brother and I again navigated the terrain of museum cases and impatient Penguins fans. It was like an appetizer before the main course. All of the distinguished and polished trophies that contained almost a century of history surrounded me. But as I browsed the awards, all I could think about was how my arms would be surrounding Lord Stanley's cup.

There were two competing lines for Lord Stanley's final attentiveness. Those people who own a yearly pass were given an express lane and those who paid admission for the day slowly crept their way around the guardrails. My nervousness had risen closer I got to the end of the line. It felt as if I were about to meet a celebrity. What would I do? If my time with the Stanley Cup would be a short one, how would I pose? I could see it from a short distance before my turn in line came. I took in it's mighty majesty understanding that the trophy's history was instilled within every name that was ever etched upon it's shiny metallic rings. That was the appeal that always draws people in. Over 100 years, hockey athletes gave their passion and surrendered their physical bodies to hoist it over just once.

When my time came, I approached it respectfully. I handed off my camera to one of the gate attendees and my brother told them instructions on how to use our digital cameras. It was like a settling feeling of a goal achieved. I was finally in the presence of one of the most recognizable trophies in the world. So, I just did what I felt and greeted it like it was an old friend. I wrapped my arms around it's base and gave it a kiss.

The time spent with the Stanley Cup was longer than anticipated, but it was not without a feeling of being rushed knowing that the line of more people waiting to do the same thing I had just done. I was able to take a few pictures by myself and then posed with a few photos with my brother. One of them is the picture in this blog.

The pictures were all taken and my brother and I were escorted back through the well-designed backdrop display. But just as I was about to leave I suddenly realized that I never bothered to look at the parts of the Cup that had the hometown Penguins names. I circled back franticly, only to get a glimpsing check of where the previous 1990s team's place.

I left the Heinz museum feeling exhausted, but still gripping onto the memories that I had just created and captured with my camera in my hands. The next step was to blog about it.
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