When the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup on Monday, it was their third championship in six years. But it was the first one the team won at home since 1938. So, of course, the city has been celebrating almost non-stop.
After the Hawks won, more than 40,000 people gathered in Wrigleyville at Wrigley Field to celebrate the Cup. And when the team left the United Center, the players made their way around to local restaurants to celebrate.
But the biggest party took place yesterday. A huge parade wound its way through Chicago and ended at a rally at Soldiers Field, the home of the Bears.
“The City of Chicago is so proud of the Blackhawks, which is why we are going to throw them a celebration that only Chicago can throw – a celebration worthy of a hockey dynasty,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel after the Hawks won.
Thursday morning got off to a wet and humid start due to the thunderstorms that tore across the Chicago area. But that didn’t deter the hundreds of thousands of fans clad in red, black, and white jerseys from lining the parade route and filling Soldiers Field to the brim.
Eventually, the horrible weather subsided leaving Chicago with cloudy skies. But there was more than enough sunshine beaming from the happy and smiling fans that were there to see their team cruising through town on double decker buses while hoisting the Cup.
I witnessed the excitement of the parade from the corner of Michigan and Monroe. Fans climbed on top of subway entrances, trees, parking pay boxes, and anything else they could find that would give them a better view of the parade. (That great vantage point didn’t last long: Police officers asked them to get down.)
Most of the crowd was native Chicagoans. But some came from pretty far away.
14-year-old Katherine F. traveled to Chicago from Pennsylvania, She said her favorite moment from the 2014-2015 season was “when Kane came back from the injury and brought the team back together and took them all the way.”
Many of the kids that I spoke to were excited to see their favorite players waving to the crowd and showing off their new hardware.
Jack C., 9, said his favorite moment of the season was “when Seabrook scored the goal in the triple overtime.” Nick H., an 11 year old who is a huge fan of Duncan Keith, said his favorite moment of the season was “when Duncan Keith scored the game winning goal in the Finals.”
Two years ago, 2 million people turned out for the post-parade rally that was held outside at Grant Park. But because Chicago didn’t have the best weather yesterday, this year’s rally was held at Soldier’s Field, which could only accommodate about 61,000 people.
But it didn’t matter. Everybody young and old alike was having a great time at the celebration. And the city of Chicago was excited to honor and celebrate the six-time Stanley Cup champions!
Photos: Nam Y. Huh/AP (Toews), Scott Olson/Getty Images (parade)