At 9:30am before the Chicago Blackhawks rally, Grant Park looked like a wasteland. I had to dodge empty bottles of Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, Gatorade, water and Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee cups. Once I made it near the Buckingham Fountain, I explored up and down Columbus Drive to see how Blackhawks fans were preparing for the cup’s and the team’s arrival.
Most fans were keeping safe from the 81-degree weather by sitting under trees or by waiting in line to buy water. Regardless of the heat, the die-hard fans still wore heavy-looking jerseys and T-shirts. Others were more creative when it came to their outfit choice. My favorite shirt? It’s a tie between a man wearing a shirt that said “I’m Black by Popular Demand” and “Buck the Bruins” (I like the censorship because there were a lot of small children there). Of course, I must mention that the best costume goes to the young man wearing a bacon outfit and the older gentleman who dressed as Superman.
According to Peggy Koranek, from Tinley Park, she saw many girls wearing short Blackhawks shirts and short shorts, but painted the rest of their bodies red. Judging by the face she made, she did not think that was a good outfit choice. Traveling from Tinley was difficult with packed train cars and drunken fights, Koranek said. Jordan Graegin and Cameron Blunt, who traveled from Indiana, had an even longer commute that only got worse with more drunken crowds as the train got closer to Chicago, they said.
Regardless of the nature of the commute, it was well worth it to see the Blackhawks ride the double-decker buses into Grant Park. All the fans rushed to the street to watch as captain Jonathan Toews held the glistening Stanley Cup in the air.
Before the second double-decker bus drove by, my favorite quote of the rally came from a girl repeatedly asking, “Are we going to see Patrick Sharp’s fine ass or are we not?”
When the second bus pulled in, the crowd went nuts chanting and shouting (only half in unison) Marian Hossa’s name as he waved to his fans. The final Blackhawks bus received the same reaction, only this time it was Patrick Kane who was pumping up the crowd.
Though I couldn’t make it past the gates into the rally because of a booze-induced fight that forced the police to block off the gate (I wasn’t a part of it, but I did get beer spilled on my shoes), watching the players be announced on stage in the middle of a crowd of hockey fans is an experience I’ll never forget, even if it was on a jumbo screen outside the rally. The crowd cheered for each player brought onto the stage, but they went wild when Corey Crawford, Andrew Shaw and Patrick Sharp were announced.
The highlight of the rally: When Crawford received a championship belt from Kane, who called him the best player in the playoffs.
“Last time we won the cup, we waited 49 years. This year, we waited only three. What do you say we do it again next year?” Sharp asked the audience. All I have to say is, my Blackhawks made me proud and I will hold you to it next year, Sharp.
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