Capitals fan Tyler Chambers has been bringing his Braden Holtby jersey with him to the Capital Pride Parade hoping for one thing: to get the jersey signed by Holtby.
Earlier this June, Holtby walked in DC’s Capital Pride Parade for the third time, having only missed one parade in the past four years–when he and the Capitals were busy celebrating their 2018 Stanley Cup championship.
Chambers, who is a member of a Facebook group called “G-Caps” for LGBTQ fans of the Capitals, was absolutely determined to catch Holtby’s attention this year.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) June 8, 2019
Chambers is an Alexandria native and has always been a Capitals fan, having experienced the lows of the Capitals elimination by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2010 playoffs and the Game Seven loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017. He was one of the hundreds of fans who celebrated on the steps of the Portrait Gallery when the Capitals finally exorcised their demons.
Holtby is a favorite of Chambers, especially because of his outspoken support for the LGBTQ community.
“It’s really something very special that I think sets him apart from other players in the NHL and even other players on the Capitals roster,” Chambers said. “You can tell with Holtby that he genuinely cares and it’s more than just lip service and good PR for him. By extension I’m grateful for how the Capitals as an organization make a point to be inclusive of all their fans.”
That respect for Holtby can even bridge rivalries, Chambers shared.
“I went on a date with a Penguins fan at the beginning of the regular season,” Chambers said. “We watched the first game between the Caps and the Pens at a bar. In an effort to troll him I wore my Caps Pride t-shirt and even he admitted that he has a lot of respect for Holtby.”
On the afternoon of the parade, Chambers and a straight friend from work were watching the parade go by outside the Fox and Hounds Lounge in Dupont. Chambers says he made it very well known that he and his friend weren’t going anywhere until they managed to find Holtby in the parade. The crowd and everyone around him were very supportive.
“The best part of Pride is everyone is in a very good mood and more than willing to lift each other up,” Chambers said.
Holtby was riding in the Monumental Sports & Entertainment float, but Chambers didn’t know when it would be coming. He asked a nearby police officer on the other side of the metal crowd barrier. The police officer didn’t know either and admitted he wasn’t a big hockey fan. To Chambers’ surprise he took off running and 20 minutes later returned to let Chambers know the float was coming.
Chambers hurriedly pointed out Holtby to the police officer as the MSE float passed by, the Capitals goaltender flanked by rainbow Weagles. The police officer carried the #70 jersey up to Holtby. Not only did Holtby sign the jersey, but the Capitals goaltender hopped off the moving float to deliver the jersey back to Chambers himself–along with a hug.
The hug was captured on video and posted on the Capitals Twitter account where the heartfelt moment had close to eight thousand likes and retweets.
Chambers was in pure shock and elation. He tried to tell Holtby how much he meant to him in the moment.
“I think I said something along the lines of ‘Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!’ I also told him I appreciate everything he does both on and off the ice and added that I would have loved to see the Caps go #back2back but at least this way he was able to march in the parade. I was in such absolute shock that I dropped the jersey on the ground, which Braden promptly picked up for me. Before he continued on the parade route I added that I very much hope to see his contract extended–looking at you [general manager Brian MacLellan],” said Chambers.
Video: Tyler Chambers
Chambers said that he is still elated about the experience of meeting Holtby, which he owed no small part to the police officer that helped him that day at the parade. “Actually, if anyone can find out who that cop was I’d like to send him a thank you card or an Edible Arrangement or something!”
“I still can’t wipe the stupid grin off my face!” Chambers said.
Headline photo: @Capitals
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