The Cubs’ victory parade wound its way through Chicago Friday, attracting an estimated five million spectators from Wrigley Field to downtown as the city celebrated the team’s first World Series title in 108 years.
The procession began in the morning in Wrigleyville — the area around the Cubs’ home stadium that has been the site of wild celebrations throughout these playoffs, whether the Cubs were at home or away — and moved south toward downtown, finishing with a massive rally in Grant Park.
Wrigleyville was packed, so much so that the parade started 50 minutes behind schedule because some players got stuck in traffic on their way to the stadium. People started arriving well before the sun was up, and crowds were dozens deep in areas. Every sidewalk in the area was filled with people headed towards the parade, completing a pilgrimage of sorts.
One popular place to watch was Broadway and Addison. A large stretch of Broadway had been closed, and people packed up close to the intersection with Addison, where the team would pass after traveling down the street from Wrigley.
With a cloudless blue sky above, fans there waited for the scheduled 10 a.m. start in unusually balmy weather for Chicago in November, listening to the constant drone of helicopters overhead.
The ages of the parade-goers covered a wide range, from the elderly to toddlers. There were also many school-age kids. By total coincidence, public schools were out Friday because of a previously scheduled teacher development day.
Joshua F. and Michael M., both 11, and Luca N., 12, were three students who benefited from the day off. They all stayed up to watch the Cubs’ roller-coaster-ride Game 7 clincher against the Indians Wednesday night, which after a brief rain delay and one extra inning ended at nearly midnight Chicago time. They agreed it was worth it. “I’ve been a fan since I was three,” Joshua said. “To finally have a World Series is very special.”
Coco P., 13, goes to a private school just a few blocks away. Classes had been cancelled at her school, possibly for obvious logistical reasons. She said she was “really happy” about this, noting that there had been a lot of tests scheduled that were now being delayed. She hoped she would see Anthony Rizzo.
Ben C., 13, who goes to another local private school, also had the day off because of the parade. His older brother, Rob, 14, was there with him. Rob was hoping to see Kyle Schwarber.
As the clock ticked past 10 a.m. and the waiting continued, there were periodically false alarms. Usually someone would hear a vehicle coming and start cheering, and pretty soon everyone would be cheering — but it would turn out to be a fire truck. The fire trucks continued to get a lot of cheers anyway, though, even when people realized the team hadn’t arrived.
The crowd remained impressively calm through it all, even two-year-old Libby and her four-year-old brother, Miles, who did “pretty well,” according to their mom, Morgan Cline, despite the fact that she ran out of snacks. “I haven’t seen one person today not wearing Cubs gear,” she said. “It’s been really fantastic.”
There was plenty of cheering, but it was never total madness. People lucky enough to live in the area stood on their balconies and rooftops. And with the crowd so deep, some on the ground become creative, climbing on top of walls or a news truck for better views.
Finally, around 11 a.m., their patience was rewarded. The parade had arrived.
Those on the ground craned their necks for a view. Smartphones held high, everyone tried to capture the moment. A chant of “Let’s go Cubs!” broke out.
Blue double-decker buses carried the players themselves, as well as close family and VIPs. The buses went by rather quickly, considering that they were scheduled to go by this area at slow “parade speed.” Perhaps that was what “parade speed” meant, or perhaps they were so behind schedule that they couldn’t linger there and had to go faster than planned.
But the fans still got a pretty good look at many of their favorite players from this year’s team, as well as the World Series trophy, past Cubs players, and Illinois governor Bruce Rauner. Cubs players Javier Baez and Jake Arrieta got some of the loudest cheers.
After the last bus moved out of sight, everyone started leaving. But for those downtown, there was still plenty more fun in store. The buses were headed their way.
Downtown, the Chicago River had been dyed blue (it is usually green). During the parade, people on Michigan Avenue were packed up against the barricades for their chance to see this historic Cubs team. Confetti fell.
At the afternoon rally in Grant Park, the players and fans sang, “Go, Cubs, Go,” which plays after every home win. Many fans had been there since the early morning in order to secure prime viewing spots.
Given the strength of the team, Cubs fans might well be enjoying another parade soon. But none could ever be quite like this. No Chicago sports season has ever been like this.
The Cubs are World Series champions. Finally, Chicagoans can say those words. They waited more than a century for this parade. You can’t blame them for savoring the moment.
Photographs by (from top) Morgan Cline; Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images; Dylan Buell/Getty Images