Sean Lynch: Stanley Cup shows up in Mariposa

July 2, 2011 

MARIPOSA -- I've always enjoyed Mariposa.

It's not a town I frequent often, but when I do it's always a pleasant experience.

Spending almost a third of my life in Colorado, I've got a soft spot in my heart for cute mountain towns.

So, whether it's stopping in for the Butterfly Festival, catching a high-intensity football game, or just grabbing a quick lunch on our way to Yosemite, Mariposa is a destination I look forward to.

Never quite as much as Friday afternoon, however.

If I had made 1,000 top-10 lists of places one might expect to see Lord Stanley's Cup, the little town of Mariposa would never have been on one.

Yet there it was on Friday afternoon, propped up on table on the shaded lawn of California's oldest functioning courthouse.

Polished and glistening brightly in the July sun, the Stanley Cup appearance was a gift from the Jacobs family -- the owners of the 2011 NHL champion Boston Bruins. Mariposa was singled out for the honor because the Jacobs crew also owns the Delaware North Corporation, which operates most Yosemite concessions.

With a good portion of its work force coming from Mariposa County, the Bruins' owners saw this as an opportunity to give back to employees.

"They called us and said the Cup was either going to go through Oakhurst or Mariposa," said Karen Smith from the Mariposa County Administration Office. "We were very excited when we got word it was coming to us.

"It was pretty short notice, but even the non-hockey fans I talked to said they wanted to come out and see it."

Sporting NHL jerseys from all over the country and a couple from Canada, an excited group of almost 80 people lined up to get their pictures taken with the famed Cup and to swap stories with its keeper, Mike Bolt.

The group got an added bonus of catching up with one of their own as Mariposa High grad Alex Cann also accompanied the Cup.

The Boston Garden employee was on vacation when she got the call to make a detour in Mariposa.

"We were driving back from San Diego when we found out this was going to happen," Cann said. "There's so many people that work with the NHL that will never get the opportunity to see the Stanley Cup, so this is a special day for Mariposa.

"I'm happy to be a part of it and to get to share it with people that I've known all my life."

Needless to say, there weren't a huge number of Bruins fans in the audience, but that mattered little.

While being a supporter of the team that currently holds the historic trophy undoubtedly heightens the experience, the appeal of the Stanley Cup transcends typical fandom.

Bolt probably put it best.

"The neat thing about the Stanley Cup is there's only one," Bolt said. "The other major sports hand out a new trophy every year.

"Not everyone is going to want to go out and get their picture taken with a Yankees World Series trophy or a Lakers championship trophy, but it doesn't matter who won the Stanley Cup, because they're only holding onto it for a little while.

"People forget that a lot of hockey players come from small towns, so the Cup has seen some of the biggest cities in the world and some of the smallest, like Mariposa."

Those in attendance Friday were grateful that was the case.

"It's an opportunity we may never get again, so I knew I wanted to be here today," said Jerry Flanagan, who drove up from Bass Lake after finding out about the event earlier that morning. "It's amazing to have it here. The experience has been even better than I hoped for."

I'll second that.

Sean Lynch is a Sun-Star sports writer. He can be reached at (209) 385-2476 or via e-mail at slynch@mercedsun-star.com.

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