The historic fishing town of Bonavista grew by several times Tuesday, as native son Michael Ryder hoisted the Stanley Cup and posed for countless photographs.

Ryder, who helped the Boston Bruins win the Cup in the NHL finals in June, celebrated the victory under sunny skies with an estimated 12,000 people, or three times the ordinary population.

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Michael Ryder signed countless autographs Tuesday during a celebration in his hometown of Bonavista. ((Jeremy Eaton/CBC) )

Thousands of fans drove long distances for a chance to see the Cup, including Don Hibbs of Bell Island.

"I've never seen it before," Hibbs said.

"I was in Alberta when Cleary was here last time with the Cup and I never had the opportunity," he said, referring to Detroit Red Wings star Daniel Cleary's homecoming in 2008.

Some fans waited for as long as five hours in line in order to have their picture taken with the Cup, and Ryder made several appearances during the day to sign autographs and souvenirs.

A separate event was held privately for minor hockey players and figure skaters.

Ryder's visit brought visitors from across Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as outside the province. They filled stores and restaurants, although Mayor Betty Fitzgerald says the value extends well beyond an admittedly brief financial boom.

"It's great for the economy, but most of all it's great for the people who live here because we got one of our own bring home the Stanley Cup," she said.

Before Ryder landed in Bonavista by helicopter, he took part in a media event in St. John's that drew national attention because the Cup tumbled off the small table where he had placed it.

 Phil Pritchard, who looks after the Cup when it is on the road, said while a fall is not ideal, it's part of the reality of travel.

"It's got scratches and dents from all different times and this is just another one that adds to its history," Pritchard told the St. John's Morning Show on Wednesday.

"If it could talk it would have some great stories and probably be a best-seller."