LEWISTON – Somewhere along Route 26 between West Paris and Paris, a police car sped past the Lewiston Maineiacs’ bus and slowed, his blue lights piercing the warm night air.

The players started laughing and teasing the bus driver.

But the officer kept moving forward.

“What is going on?” Maineiacs’ defenseman Patrick Cusack asked.

The Paris police escorted the Maineiacs, one officer in front and another behind the bus as it lumbered through town.

At the Norway town line, the Paris cruiser veered off, and a Norway police officer picked up the caravan.

At the corner in front of Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, Maineiacs’ fans stood and waved a team flag, honking and yelling as the bus made the turn.

“This is all for us?” Maineiacs’ rookie David Perron asked in disbelief. “This is unbelievable.”

Norway gave way to Oxford, and then to Mechanic Falls, where the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office picked up the caravan. Dotted along the road were more fans.

With each honk of the horn, the players clamored to the bus windows, looking at who might be out there at 11:15 p.m.

As the players passed the Auburn Fire Department, a fire truck rolled out of the drive, joining the caravan, which now also included the team’s van.

Across the Longley Bridge, a legion of about 100 fans holding signs watched the bus parade by. The players had the bus lights on, and displayed the President’s Cup in the window for them to see.

At the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, another mob of people. Players trickled off the bus, each to thunderous applause, but none getting any louder cheers than captain Marc-Andre Cliche, who emerged from the bus last, holding the trophy aloft.

Chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A” erupted. A group of fans sang the Maineiacs’ radio jingle, and flashbulbs from digital cameras lit up the parking lot.

A half-hour later, a smaller group continued to mingle, but the spectacle was over.

“We should do this every year,” one exuberant fan shouted over the crowd.

There weren’t many present who disagreed.


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