Joy, salvation on the streets of Boston

It was around 9 a.m. and Amy Bonina took a respite from the hot sun with her 3-year-old son near the Public Garden on Boylston Street.

The Duck Boats and the Stanley Cup were still hours away from meandering their way past their vantage point, but Bonina and her husband had made the drive from Upton, Mass., to give their son a front-row seat to history.

"We couldn't miss this," said Amy, dressed in an Adam Oates jersey.

Her son was contentedly sucking down apple juice. His favorite stuffed bear, "Acorn," was sitting in a stroller, donning the eight-spoked "B" and a helmet.

A ways down the road, near the corner of Tremont Street, where the rolling rally would later reach the home stretch toward Copley Plaza, Brian Baker of Lincoln, N.H., was waiting. He wore a split jersey with the No. 77 on the back -- one half Bruins, one half Avalanche. He had a hat commemorating the 1996 NHL All-Star game, one of the countless highlight-reel moments in Ray Bourque's career.

Baker, who's been a Bruins season-ticket holder for more than 20 years, recalled being in attendance when the former captain returned with Lord Stanley following his victory in Colorado.

This occasion was much different.

"We didn't have to send anybody away for this one," Baker smirked. "This is the one. There's no more memories of the Flyers, Kate Smith, or the Canadiens, or too many men, or the Oilers and Petr Klima. This is it."

As the caravan snaked its way down the winding streets, Tom Collins of Quincy hoisted his cardboard and tin-foil Cup into the air with a bellow. He'd spent two hours working on his handycraft -- long before the Bruins lifted the real one at Rogers Arena -- in anticipation of this very moment.

"This ain't a bandwagon cup," Collins added. "I built this when they were down 2-0."

Similarly, Steve Luoma of Framingham spent more than six hours spray-painting a 12-foot-high sign welcoming the Stanley Cup home. He enlisted several of his friends to help carry the sign up and down Boylston.

"My dad was a huge hockey fan, I grew up playing the sport," Luoma said.

He'd cut school to be a part of the similar fanfare after Boston's other pro sports championships this millennium, but this one ranked among the most memorable. It's an embarrassment of riches, but he wasn't about to complain.

"The Red Sox' first one was pretty crazy, I have to admit," Luoma said, "but this is right up there."

Soon after, the flotilla passed by. Air horns and vuvuzelas blew. Cow bells rang. Screams were wailed. Everyone sweated it out together in the streets, just like the boys had done on the ice.

And, in the end, there was chaos. The streets -- looking like something out of "28 Days Later" -- were finally abandoned as the families returned home, the college kids tried sneaking their way into the watering holes and the Bruins continued on what promises to be an endless summer of celebration.

All that was left were the streamers, signs and Styrofoam coffee cups strewn about the streets.

Walking up Tremont Street were a pair of missionaries from the Church of Latter Day Saints. The two twenty-somethings hailed from Utah and Wyoming; they're living in Somerville for their mission. Perhaps by coincidence, they were wearing a black and a yellow tie, respectively.

"We haven't had much luck spreading the gospel today," one of them said coyly, in on the joke.

Jesus saves, Esposito scores on the rebound, right?

It's time that one gets a makeover.