By 19:00 hours, Red Wings fans, many clad in the jerseys of their favorite stars, were storming Joe Louis Arena by the busload.
Chants of "Let's go Red Wings" and "We want Stanley" echoed long before the opening puck was dropped.
Police helicopters and the special gang squad patrolled. An uncanny stillness descended on the streets during the initial moments of the game. No cars passed.
And then another, more intense air of expectation took root. It was partially fueled by beer taps in watering holes such as the Post Bar and Cobo Joe’s, and partially from a genuine devotion to the hometown team.
Four minutes into the game, Tomas Holmstrom directed a puck past Carolina goalie Arturs Irbe and into the net.
From then until the sun rose on Friday, the party was on.
"Let's go Red Wings" cheers gave way to, "We need beer," songs such as DJ Assault’s "Ass and Titties," and even a proclamation of "smoke dope, they're runnin' out of beer."
Women hoisted their tops with the same enthusiasm that Luc Robitaille or Dominik Hasek exhibited upon hoisting the Stanley Cup.
After the game, fans left the Joe or their barstools and swarmed into the streets. People were so intent on the street celebration that bouncers at Panacea were heard to tout, "Red Wings fans get in free."
Romulus resident Kim Upson gushed, "Oh my gosh, this is the craziest. We are happy down here! Can you hear it?"
The "it" was the roar of excitement that filled the night sky. Victory cries, car horns and bottle rockets combined to make a blissfully rowdy noise that probably woke Aunt Bee all the way down in Mayberry.
Fedorovs and McCartys swung from light posts. Brake lights illuminated the sky. Fans frantically flew flags and hoisted tinfoil Stanley Cups from a sea of pickup beds. Pedestrians wove in and out of the gridlock, exchanging raucous remarks and gleeful gyrations with the motorists stuck in traffic.
People exchanged rapid-fire high-fives. Strangers hugged and partied together. The amorphous blob of red and white seemed to be a singular entity, moving, breathing, shouting and laughing as one.
A thumping bass line from Marilyn’s on Monroe provided the heartbeat to the bash in Greektown.
Thrusting a gigantic, slimy octopus high in the air, Marcus Brown repeatedly dared all the "real" Red Wings fans to "Lick the 'pus."
Meticulously polished hotrods, low-riders and SUVs boomed and hopped their way slowly down Monroe Street.
Red Wing nuts succeeded in drinking some bars dry. One was said to have run out of beer during the first period.
Not to be discouraged, John Paul of Hamtramck reached behind the seat of his Bronco to reveal a reserve stash of his chosen elixir. A true Motor City madman, Paul selected a vintage (but never precocious) 10w30 Valvoline Motor Oil. He ripped the top off the bottle and, with the confirmation of a bouncing Adam’s apple, swallowed several gulps o’ the lube. As a drop of petroleum ran his cheek, Paul gurgled an irreproducible sound of disgust and unleashed a hearty "Goooooo Wings" into the night.
Asked what it is about the Stanley Cup that made him want to consume motor oil, he simply said, "I’m just a crazy motherfucker."
Police Lt. Herman Perry pronounced the revelers "relatively well-behaved."
A TV news crew climbed into a ridiculous looking mobile fortress and dejectedly left the scene with nary a tragedy to report.
Apparently, they hadn't seen the dude chugging Mobiloil. Adam Stanfel is an editorial intern for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected]