Thousands hit the beach to support the Bolts

- Thousands gathered at Pier 60 in Clearwater for the official Lightning game three watch party as they took on the Devils.

For once, the beach wasn't about surfing or swimming.

"This is the beach. They are up there in the snow. Freezing cold," said Brittany Anair of Tampa. "We are here. Waves, sun, good music. This is a good time."

For a long time, Lightning fans have known that beaches and body checking are not-so-distant cousins. 

Monday night, the weather did a favor.

"It fits perfect for ice hockey today," said Denise Cadicamo of Clearwater. "It's not a hot day, so it is cool."

The Lightning front office says the end of the Sugar Sand Festival gave them the perfect opportunity to throw a party, in a part of town that is a far cry from Thunder Alley.

"We are not called the Tampa Bay Lightning for nothing," said Lightning VP of Marketing Eric Blankenship. "For years we have tried to do more things across the bay. It gets very easy to do a lot of events in Tampa. But we know that St. Pete and Clearwater are very much a part of our market."

The Lighting are showing once again that their playoff runs bring the community together as well as anything else happening in town.

"This is our town. This is our hometown. This is our family," said Anair. "We haven't won it since 04. Let's do it again. We are ready to do it. Everyone is coming together. We have already made great friends. I just got here. Made friends, this is awesome."

For game four, the watch party will be in Tampa at Armature Works on the West River starting at 5:30 p.m.

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