Each December, when Rockport welcomes Santa Claus on his lobster boat and hosts the town's annual tree-lighting ceremony, Kathy Milbury and Barbara Stavropoulos ring down the season at their restaurant, My Place By the Sea.
This year, "ringing down the season" has taken on a much livelier and far more literal tone.
For the last week of their 2011 operation, Milbury and Stavropoulos, whose restaurant sits at the end of Bearskin Neck and helps draw tens of thousands of visitors each year to that historic commercial enclave, have been displaying Milbury's brother's Boston Bruins Stanley Cup ring, to the delight of a number of customers and those who have viewed it when the women have taken it elsewhere.
Kathy is the sister of Mike Milbury, the Bruins' longtime defenseman, coach and now a regular between-period commentator on game telecasts for NBC and Versus. Milbury, however, also hosts "The Instigator" hockey show and served last season as commentator on NESN — both entities owned by the Bruins. That landed him for one of the championship rings, which are given beyond players and coaches to others in or with close ties to the Bruins' organization.
During a Thanksgiving family get-together, Kathy Milbury and Stavropoulos were talking about the ring, and she quipped, "Geez, it would be great if we had this to show at close to our season."
Mike Milbury, a regular Cape Ann summer visitor who stops into My Place when he's in the area, had a quick reply.
"He said, 'Here, take it,'" Kathy said.
Since then, the 2.3-ounce ring — engraved with, among other things, the Bruins' logo and a listing of the team's Stanley Cup championships — has become a conversation piece not only at My Place, but around Cape Ann.
Milbury and Stavropoulos shared it the first time with the morning coffee crowd at Rockport's Dunkin' Donuts and have brought it to Rockport National Bank, among other businesses. On Tuesday, they brought it to show the Gloucester High School hockey team as the players prepared for their new season at Dorothy Talbot Rink.
"It's not the Stanley Cup. This is something you can touch, you can hold you can wear — it's very real," Kathy Milbury said.
Rockport National Bank President Peter Anderson said that the women and the ring drew a lively reaction when they visited last week.
"They just stopped in unannounced, and the next thing you knew, we had the most lobby traffic we've had in a long time," Anderson said. "People were putting it on, having their pictures taken with it on their finger — it was great.
"(The ring) is impressive on its own," Anderson added, "but when you add to that the significance of it — that it represents winning the Stanley Cup and what that meant to people — it's even more so."
Tuesday's visit to the rink wasn't the first time at least a couple of people in the Gloucester High hockey community got a chance to see Milbury's ring, up close and personal.
Stavropoulos and Kathy Milbury have long been active supporters of the Fishermen and other local hockey programs, and a number of Gloucester High players, past and present, have worked at the restaurant over the summer.
This past season, one of My Place's servers was current Gloucester High co-captain Vincenzo Terranova. And during the restaurant's final week of special "harvest dinners," Gloucester High coach Don Lowe was among My Place's patrons.
With that, Milbury and Stavropoulos arranged for Terranova to serve the Lowes' table. And when he brought the hors d'oeuvres, he placed them on the table wearing the Stanley Cup ring, as if to symbolize the team's winning goals.
"I still can't believe the reaction it gets," Kathy Milbury said. .
"We've just been having a lot of fun with it," she added, "and it's fun to be able to share it with people, especially this time of year."
About the ring
Made of 14K white gold.
Contains 300-plus diamonds.
The front displays the Boston Bruins logo with the Stanley Cup in the background, filled with 100 princess and round-cut diamonds.
Flanking these are the words "Stanley Cup" and "Champions."
There are six diamonds located to the top left and right of the logo that signify the Bruins' six championships.
Engraved inside is the team's logo, "Full 60+ to History," and the insignias of the teams they beat in post-season play.