Blackhawks parade, rally draws more than 2 million to celebrate Stanley Cup win

June 28, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Watch the FULL Blackhawks Parade, Rally
Just click here to see Chicago Celebrates, ABC7's coverage of the Hawks parade and rally.

ABC7's John Garcia caught up with it a few places Friday night. It's expected to make an appearance in Tinley Park.

Lord Stanley appreciates lots of different music genres, but something about the classic rock of the band Rush seems appropriate for many Hawks fans tonight. So they are thrilled to hear they may get to see it.

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"I would say pinch me. I'd have to see it to believe it," said Danny Dresbach, Blackhawks fan. Of course many Hawks fans feel like they're living a dream these days. Including the team's No. 1 fan, owner Rocky Wirtz, who spoke to the enormous crowd at Hutchinson Field during the rally.

The team is doing its best to share the experience and the cup with fans. After the parade and rally they brought it to the team party at the Hyatt, then stops after included Coach Q's house in Hinsdale for friends and neighbors. And one the coach's favorite watering holes in got Oakbrook, the York Tavern.

Fans lined up to see the cup

Chicago celebrated the Blackhawks Stanley Cup win with a quick-moving parade through the streets of downtown Chicago.

The next stop was Hutchinson Field where hundreds of thousands crammed in to see the team. Police say more than 2 million people came downtown for the parade and the rally.

The 2013 Stanley Cup champions didn't have much to say. But every word was met with an outburst of screams.

Early Friday morning, Hawks fans started scouting spots on the parade route. The caravan of double-decker buses would start at the United Center. First to board were a few Chicago dignitaries.

"Everywhere there are Blackhawk fans," said Gov. Pat Quinn. "This is our day, Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup championship day."

"It was a sweet victory, it's sweet to have the Stanley Cup in sweet home Chicago," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

But the stars Friday were the players. They separated onto different buses so we fans got to see the players a little better. From Damen to Madison, plodding east on Washington; along the way seeing enchanted fans. For many, it was hours of preparation for a few minutes to bask in the celebration along the parade route. The only complaint -- that the actual parade didn't last longer.

"We were here in 2010... went by really quick, but a glimpse we will never forget," said Nicole Bernal.

Once the parade ended, all the attention turned to Hutchinson Field, where tens of thousands of fans packed in as soon as the gates opened shortly after 8 a.m. They got to see players past and present, the coaches and so many others in the Blackhawks organization.

When it was over, the event had a profound impact on one leukemia survivor, a volunteer at ABC7's Jim Gibbons Run for Cancer Research.

"I am just grateful for the research and I am really honored to be here," said Holly Studhorse. "I just cheered and cried. I am not wearing any attire but I am really just humble and thankful."

The Parade

If there was any thought that a second Stanley Cup would be greeted with less fan enthusiasm - forget it. Crowds stood ten to 15 deep in spots along the parade route. And they came early to claim viewing land. Young, old. Do you wonder how much work was being done today?

"Everybody's here. There's not anybody working. Or they're watching this on television. Nobody's working today," said Steve Castellano of Addison.

Shoulder to shoulder on the streets, porches high above, even atop a stoplight - cameras ready, everyone, because here come the Hawks. And look at how fast they're coming. By the time they'd crosscut the Loop on Washington, the player buses looked like they were going 20-25 miles an hour, prompting one reporter to yell, "slow down a little guys."

There they are, and there they go - a much faster trip than the parade four seasons ago.

"We love our Blackhawks, but we didn't get an opportunity to see them long enough. You can't even snap a picture off," said fan Sue Hopkins.

"It's exciting to be in a crowd with this much energy, but it's sort of like, you blink and it's over," said fan Pam Knoll.

And that was disappointing to some fans who got up in the dark to come early for a spot. Still, the heroes were seen.

"I saw Patrick Kane. I saw Marian Hossa, I saw all the players I think," said fan Eli Greenfield.

The Rally

For many, it all began hours before the rally. Throngs of fans gathering along Michigan Avenue, waiting for the gates to open at Grant Park.

"You've gotta celebrate. This is Chicago. It's the best city in the world, so we've got to be here to celebrate the best team," said fan Dondre Keeler.

"I'm sure we'll all start pushing pretty soon. So as soon as those gates open, we're in," said fan Danielle Seibert before Hutchinson Field was open.

Shortly after 8 a.m., it happened. Police struggled to keep barricades in place as fans streamed into Grant Park. People, in a full sprint, rushed for a spot near the front of the stage.

"It's craziness. That's all I can say, pandemonium, organized chaos," said Paul M. Bihler, fan.

As a sea of red flowed into Hutchinson Field framed by a breathtaking skyline, fans were positively giddy. A guy in a coconut bra and grass skirt danced and yelled, "The Hawks, the Hawks, the Hawks!"

"I think I love this place. This is the best city you could ever live in. And Eric Horng is the best reporter I've ever met," fan Ryan Mazzone told ABC7 reporter Eric Horng.

Nikki Delguidice transformed herself into the Stanley Cup. After being asked by a reporter if people had tried hoisting her over their heads, people hoisted her over their heads.

But as the sun beat down and temperatures reached the eighties, the wait began to wear on the crowd. The fire department would respond to nearly 100 people overcome by the heat. With lines for water becoming long, staff members threw water bottles into the crowd to keep people hydrated.

"Yes, it's long and it's tiring and it's hot, but there's nothing like this that we've ever experienced. So it's really, really good," said fan Andy Saunders.

Finally, the Hawks arrived backstage. And with anticipation growing, one man was taken into custody after allegedly jumping a barrier. Overall, though, the event was largely peaceful as players basked in the warmth of fans. The moment, an indelible snapshot, following a picture-perfect season.

"It was amazing to see the pride in Chicago, to see the players, the happiness it brought back to us. We're going to win again next year!" said fan Ashley Speiden.

For the players, Friday's parade and rally were the culmination of a week-long party celebrating their Stanley Cup triumph. At the end of day's events, they danced on the stage to the delight of the huge crowd that packed Grant Park Friday morning. No one wanted the party to end. Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith stepped to the microphone and offered some philosophic words about the spirit of a champion.

"Remember, Chicago," he said. "It's better to live one day as a lion than 1,000 years as a lamb. So I ask you Chicago, live today with me and my teammates as lions."

Earlier, Patrick Kane presented a belt the team gives out after each game to goalie Corey Crawford, saying it should go to the best player in the playoffs. Crawford then stepped to the mic and yelled an obscenity.

Millions of fans fete victorious Blackhawks>

Thousands of fans who ditched work and painted their faces red and black roared as the buses moved past carrying waving players in red jerseys, including forward Jonathan Toews, who cradled the bar-hopping silver trophy.

Before dawn, crowds jammed entrances to the rally site in Grant Park along Lake Michigan where the parade was headed. Some die-hard fans camped out overnight, ready to sprint to the big stage at the front of the park the minute police swung barriers aside.

Some fans hauled homemade versions of the silver Stanley Cup, including one fashioned from an empty beer keg.

One supporter along the parade route held a sign that said, "Thank you, guys." Another said, "Best 17 seconds of my life," referring to the pair of goals scored just seconds apart in the final minutes of the Hawks' 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on Monday night.

Twenty-somethings Courtney Baldwin and Meghan O'Kane, from the city's suburbs, slapped together a homemade Stanley Cup out of a jumble of jugs and plastic bowls painted grey. Early in the morning, it was not yet full of frothy beverage.

"It will be this afternoon," Baldwin said.

The Blackhawks gave the city something to celebrate as the Cubs and White Sox grind through another lost summer and after the Bears failed to make the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. And fans took note.

"We love the Blackhawks. This is history and this is a championship, unlike the Cubs," O'Kane said, taking a shot at a team that hasn't won a World Series since 1908.

For the Blackhawks, it was the second time they have brought the Stanley Cup home in three years.

This season's victory was dramatic. Trailing Boston until the final minutes, Chicago scored twice in 17 seconds. Delirious fans bolted from bars to celebrate in the streets. Car horns blared.

The party roared overnight and into the next day as the team returned from Boston and, making good on an NHL tradition, toted the Cup around bars and restaurants to the delight of onlookers and fans who tried to keep up.

Sarah Schmidt, 22, who grew up in Chicago and made the pilgrimage to Friday's celebrations from Milwaukee, telling her boss she was taking the day off no matter what - and hoping she would still have her bar tending job when the party was over.

"I can't miss this," she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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