There’s nothing like a dynasty.
Chicago has been celebrating the Blackhawks’ big win since June fifteenth, when the Blackhawks shut out the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0. While bringing home the Stanley Cup is an amazing feat itself, the fact that the Hawks managed to win the Cup three times in the last six years called for a major celebration, and the city did not disappoint.
Being a huge Hawks fan, I called off work and made my way into the city for the parade celebration last Thursday, and I was not the only one; an estimated two million people turned out for the event. Swarms of people of all ages were crowded into the streets in the early morning, all decked out in their best Hawks gear.
While the parade was scheduled to start at 10:00 a.m., people began camping out as early as 6:30 a.m. for a good spot. One fan, Paige Miner, was one of the first people there. “We woke up at 4:30, got on a 5:30 train and got to our spot at Monroe and Wacker at about 6:15.” Her earliness paid off and got her a front row spot.
A little rain around 9 a.m. didn’t dampen the spirits of the fans, however, as the team owner Rocky Wirtz put it, “I didn’t see any Lightning!”
After riding the packed L downtown—and seeing more red there—I managed to find a good spot to watch the parade in the intersection of Michigan and Monroe, and the swarms of people around me were insane. People were climbing on everything in sight; I even saw one man climb up and perch on a stoplight before being called down by the police. The good mood was infectious, and even though we were all sweaty, humid, and somewhat damp from the earlier rainfall, nothing could stop the chants of “We want the Cup!” and “Let’s go Hawks!”
I settled in to wait for the next hour and a half—being further down on the parade route, I knew it would be a while until I got my chance at seeing Lord Stanley. The parade itself had a late start, finally getting out of the gates at 10:22, according to the Blackhawks Twitter account, and by the time it finally arrived at Michigan and Monroe, around 11:15, I was more than ready.
The cheering grew louder and louder until the procession of open-topped buses rounded the corner and suddenly the Hawks were zooming past, their family and friends in the front of the bus and the players hanging out and cheering with the fans in the back. There was a flash of sliver and suddenly the Stanley Cup was hoisted into the air and the crowds screamed louder than before. I couldn’t believe it myself, seeing the Cup in person is so different than seeing it on television, and the absolute joy from the Hawks spread into the crowd. “Just seeing all the players that close to you was a very different experience than watching them play on television,” commented Miner.
Just like that the last Hawks disappeared from sight, and the crowd began to disperse. Some headed off to Soldier Field for the rally but most lingered around the city, enjoying everything Chicago has to offer.
As for the possibility of a Stanley Cup next year? Just as Conn Smythe winner Duncan Keith put it, “Four sounds better than three!”
All photos courtesy of Paige Miner.