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Bolts Skating Rink
Posted September 29, 2020 | 4:45 PM

How Hillsborough County became the Home of Distant Thunder

Residents supported from thousands of miles away with yard signs, watch parties, and more

"Distant Thunder" is a term the Tampa Bay Lightning coined to describe fans who live far away from the team's home ice. The Distant Thunder has rumbled all across the globe, from Brazil to Bali to Italy and more. But this year, the National Hockey League's postseason plan took the team north to two playoff bubbles in Canada. So how did residents of Hillsborough County support the Bolts during a Stanley Cup run from the thousands of miles away? We all became the Distant Thunder.

Distant Thunder yard signs dotted the front lawns of homes and businesses across Hillsborough County.

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Our Parks & Recreation kids donned their Bolts blue to cheer on the team from all over the County.

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Amalie Arena was home to the socially Distant Thunder, hosting indoor and outdoor watch parties for many of the games.

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Next up: The Lightning and the Thunder reunite on Wednesday for a Stanley Cup celebration, Hillsborough County-style! The Stanley Cup will accompany the Bolts for a boat parade and a party at Raymond James Stadium. Fans are encouraged to social distance, practice good hygiene (don't forget your hand sanitizer!), and stay home if not feeling well.

The boat parade will commence at 5 p.m. on Wednesday on the Hillsborough River. Fans can gather along the Riverwalk to watch, but social distancing is requested and face masks are suggested. Boaters may be on the water but will not be permitted to join the boat parade.

At 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the celebration continues at Raymond James Stadium. Tickets are sold out. Free parking will open at 5:30 p.m. and the stadium gates will open at 6:30 p.m. Social distancing guidelines will be in effect, and fans will be seated in pods of one to six people. Face coverings will be required at the event unless actively eating or drinking.

Read 5 Reasons We Love the Lightning 

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