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A few more jolts of Bolts joy

The celebration of the Tampa Bay Lightning's championship continues today with a public party.

BRADY DENNIS
Published June 9, 2004

TAMPA - And the party rolls on.

Today, the blood and bruises don't matter anymore.

The Tampa Bay Lightning players, 2004 Stanley Cup champions, will cruise along closed avenues and soak up the Florida sun and the city's adoration.

The victory parade starts at noon in downtown Tampa. And, this time, it isn't for the Bucs.

"It's remarkable how we've become a hockey city," Mayor Pam Iorio said Tuesday. "There's a sense of excitement in the air.

"It does a lot for community spirit."

The parade will depart the St. Pete Times Forum and wind through downtown, north on Florida Avenue, east on Jackson Street and south on Morgan Street, back to the arena.

But the celebration won't end there.

Lightning spokesman Bill Wickett said the team will host a rally inside the Times Forum following the parade.

Team officials, players, the mayor and other local dignitaries are expected to speak.

A concert featuring Eddie Money will take place on the Times Forum plaza immediately after the rally.

All events are free and open to the public.

Tampa police Capt. John Bennett said officers plan to close the streets affected by the parade only as long as they have to.

He expected the parade to last between an hour and an hour and a half.

Despite the logistical obstacles and short notice, Bennett seemed at ease Tuesday.

After all, the Bucs victory parade in 2003 came during the same week as the annual Gasparilla parade.

"We're very happy . . . for the city and the community," said Bennett, who estimated 60 to 70 officers would work the parade. "It doesn't come without challenges. (But) we'll get through."

Iorio is looking forward to another day of Lightning pride.

Thanks to a bet she made with Calgary's mayor, other prizes are on the way - Spolumbo sausages, Big Rock beer and Bernard Callebaut chocolates.

"Sausage and chocolate, you can dispense with pretty easily," she said Tuesday.

What about the beer?

"Maybe all you reporters can drink it."

Sure, Mayor, just bring it to the Eddie Money concert.

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