Since we’re in the middle of Stanley Cup Finals 2018, excitement about the Washington Capitals is huge now in Washington, D.C. As I hopped off the Metro train at the Gallery Place stop on Saturday afternoon (June 2), I noticed the electronic screens in the station and on the street were running pro-Caps ads. Restaurants and shops proudly displayed pro-Caps signs and inflated letters in their windows. The swell of folks in the streets sporting the red Capitals jerseys grew throughout the day.
Going into Game 3 on this Saturday night, the Caps and the Vegas Golden Knights were tied in this series with wins of one game each. Focusing on the entertainment, the first two games featured pregame music by Lil Jon and Imagine Dragons. Not to be outdone, D.C. launched its own fun-filled extravaganza presented by Capital One: the ALL CAPS Hockey Fest.
The free festivities were scheduled to kick off at about 6:00 p.m. on the steps of the National Portrait Gallery. Live music was performed by singer Sting and Jamaican rapper Shaggy, who are on tour promoting their collaborative album 44/876. However, that stretch of G street was already full of Caps fans way in advance of the start time. To my pleasant surprise, Sting and Shaggy appeared on the stage an hour early to do a rehearsal and pump up the crowd. Both artists were a class act in the rehearsals and for the television cameras when they launched a medley of “Gotta Get Back My Baby,” “Roxanne,” and “Every Breath You Take.”
The first track in the set is off the new album 44/876, and it has a strong and fun-filled vibe to it. Shaggy even came down the stairs to get closer to the crowd, getting them to wave their arms (and a few Caps flags) in time to the guitar and drum accompaniment. Sting’s voice rang true on the beloved hits from his days with The Police, with time allowed for fans to sing along.
Following the short set, event staff brought out the now familiar letters that Caps fans have rallied around on social media: #ALLCAPS. But the true star was none other than the Stanley Cup itself, which was also carried to the stage. Sting and Shaggy returned for interviews and to examine the Cup. They appeared to be impressed with their up-close look. Sting even laid his head against the Cup briefly to everyone’s amusement.
Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live) and Pat Sajak (Wheel of Fortune) also emerged for the pregame celebrations. Thompson enthusiastically threw some free hockey pucks from the stage with the “help” of his four-year-old daughter. (Hers flew over a few of the steps, coming up short, but the efforts did not go unappreciated.) At the crowd’s prompting, someone on stage gave Thompson a red Caps hat to put on.
I was quite puzzled by Sajak, the popular game show host who always seemed rather personable on Wheel of Fortune. He was “rocking the red” attire like other Caps fans, but he seemed much more interested in speaking with the NBC Sports Network crew and taking a couple of pictures with the Stanley Cup. He only threw one freebie item and later on, he gave a very brief wave as he hurried off the stage. Since he barely looked at the audience the entire time, a few people started calling out Wheel of Fortune references about spinning the wheel and buying vowels. If that was a tactic to get Sajak’s attention, it didn’t work.
The ALL CAPS Hockey Fest closed out with a live DJ, cheerleaders, and more freebies. As I left G Street and turned onto 7th Street, I marveled at the number of people walking toward the Capital One Arena. Streets around this block were closed off to cars and were now areas where people without tickets could gather to view the game. I stopped by another set of National Portrait Gallery stairs, which were full of people waiting around. In the sea of red, I wasn’t surprised to find Tommy McFly from 94.7 Fresh FM. McFly is what you might call a super Caps fan, and he seems to relish any chance to get excited on the radio or on the street about the Washington Capitals. He was there in top form, interviewing Caps fans and asking them to cheer. In short, people in D.C. are very happy about the chance of clinching that Stanley Cup, and it shows nearly everywhere.
She wasn’t part of the lineup but it’s definitely worth mentioning that actress and singer Lynda Carter was somewhere in the audience and enjoying the festivities. If you’re at Game 4 this Monday evening, maybe you’ll be lucky and spot the original Wonder Woman in person!
What’s Next in the Stanley Cup Finals?
I wrapped up this article only 30 minutes after the Capitals defeated the Golden Knights by the score of 3-1. The Caps also lead the series now 2-1. I’m not going to delve into how I’d predict the end of the Stanley Cup Finals because my forte is not sports, and I live near Washington, D.C. What I can tell you about Game 4 is that there will be another installment of the ALL CAPS Hockey Fest that day (June 4). I would expect there’ll be another chance to see the Stanley Cup, win freebies, and show appreciation for the Caps. The free festivities will also feature a special performance by rock band Fall Out Boy and will air on NBC right before Game 4 starts.