Sounds of “Chelsea Dagger” have echoed throughout Grant Park and downtown Chicago, signaling the end of the Blackhawks parade and victory rally.
Daily Herald reporters and photographers continue to canvass the area to provide an insider's look at the celebration and the sea of red that has overtaken Chicago, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Stanley Cup champs.
Alyssa Raineri of Lake Zurich and her friend took one look at the crowd at Ogilvie Transportation Center and came to the same conclusion.
“Looks like we'll be waiting in line,” said Raineri, who hoped to catch a 1:30 p.m. train on the Northwest line back home.
The food court is marked by long lines, as well, with fans waiting out the crowds by drinking tallboys at the Chicago News Room bar and smoothies at Jamba Juice.
Among them was Crystal Lake resident Dino Colamatteo, who hoped the lines would move quickly.
“I have to be to work at 4, so I really hope this train is on time,” he said.
“Awesome” seems to be the word of choice as fans exit Hutchinson Field.
Jim Gracey of Downers Grove described it that way, saying “It was worth standing shoulder to shoulder with a million people.”
Nina Angiulo and Ali Roller of Schaumburg used that description, as well, with Nina saying she specifically enjoyed the Blackhawks colored confetti and Ali preferring the video looking back at all the glory and highlights.
“I liked the video they played,” Roller said. “They did a whole recap.”
Sounds of “Chelsea Dagger” are echoing throughout Grant Park and downtown Chicago, signaling the end of the victory rally.
Several players including Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews spoke, all thanking the city and fans for their support.
“You guys make the United Center and the city of Chicago the best place to play in all the NHL,” Sharp said.
A clean-shaven Kane, whose mullet remains, was welcomed by chants of “MVP” as he stood at the podium.
He bequeathed his wrestling-esque belt to goaltender Corey Crawford, who he called the real MVP of the playoff run.
Crawford, along with Andrew Shaw before him, brought some colorful language to the victory rally that the FCC was sure to enjoy.
Toews signed off the way a captain should, crediting his teammates.
“I can't think of a better bunch of guys to represent this city,” he said. “Hardworking guys, down to earth guys that go out there and play for each other every single shift ... that represents this city and what it means right here. To bring the Stanley Cup home twice in four years is absolutely unbelievable. Thanks for coming out guys.”
Just like the home games, the rally began with the usual pregame video and a raucous crowd cheered throughout Jim Cornelison's booming rendition of the national anthem.
Pat Foley is serving as emcee, taking fans back to the beginning of the season when the Hawks played the first two months without a loss, racking up a 21-0-3 record.
This team, he pointed out, is the first in the salary cap era to win two titles.
John McDonough, president and CEO, thanked fans during his brief remarks.
“Today is a reward to our great fans who gave us a chance and came back in droves,” he said.
The players, Coach Joel Quenneville, announcer Pat Foley and former Hawks greats such as Tony Esposito and Denis Savard are off the buses and congregating behind the stage.
All the signs of a storied season are in hand including the Stanley Cup, Patrick Kane's playoff MVP Conn Smythe trophy and Clarence S. Campbell Bowl signifying the Western Conference champs.
Fortunately for the team, the setup includes tents to shield them from the sun.
Street sweepers have quite a task ahead of them. Tons of confetti have turned streets into a red- and white-speckled paper blanket.
Fans on Washington are dispersing now that the parade has passed them by, and they're a bit disappointed with the caravan's speed.
Still, everyone seemed happy to see the Stanley Cup winners all the same.
“I would have liked to see them slow down a bit,” said Chris Camerano, who works in West Chicago and attended the parade with friends from Lockport. “But it was nice to see all of them. Everyone could see no matter where you were at.”
Reminiscent of the champagne being sprayed in the Hawks locker room after Game 6, hundreds of free bottles of water are being tossed into the crowd at Hutchinson Field in Grant Park to help battle the sun.
Meanwhile, the Jumbo Tron at Balbo and Columbus is tracking the progress and helicopters hover overhead.
The parade is officially under way, with Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz waving to the crowd and captain Jonathan Toews holding the Stanley Cup as their bus crosses Des Plaines to head east on Washington Street.
The crowd, several people deep on each side, is erupting in cheers as the caravan has slowed down to let fans take in the moment.
Toews is doing his best to keep the 35-pound, 120-year-old Cup propped above his head.
Manning the intersection are several blue street sweepers, which will follow behind to clean up the confetti and debris.
The Blackhawks are actually on time, with the red, double-decker buses pulling out of the United Center parking lot toward the parade route.
It was a less chaotic scene by the Madhouse on Madison, where players were casually milling around.
Patrick Sharp tells WGN-TV that the past week has been a whirlwind.
“It feels like we just won last night,” Sharp said. “It's been kind of a blur.”
Sharp also gave props to Patrick Kane for his appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman.”
“Kaner, I thought, did a heck of a job and even made me laugh a couple times,” Sharp said. “It was pretty cool.”
In a full-page ad in today's Boston Globe, Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz and team President John McDonough thank the Boston Bruins and the city of Boston for “the remarkable welcome you showed our team and the many Chicagoans who visited.”
The letter paid tribute to Boston Strong, the rallying slogan that emerged from the Boston Marathon bombings.
Here's the full text:
An open letter to the Boston Bruins organization & the city of Boston.
Hockey is a tough game. As impressed as we were by the strength, talent, and competitive spirit of the Boston Bruins on the ice, we were deeply touched by what happened off the ice. Rarely have we experienced the hospitality you afforded us throughout the playoff series between two incredibly gifted teams.
On behalf of the Chicago Blackhawks organization and the entire Wirtz Corporation, we want to personally express our heartfelt appreciation to your city, the Bruins organization, and especially, the citizens of Boston for the remarkable welcome you showed our team and the many Chicagoans who visited.
From Boston's political leadership to every member of the Bruins organization, from the players to the people on the streets, you demonstrated respect, good sportsmanship, and a genuine love for the great game of hockey.
Like the rest of the world, Chicagoans have been reminded in recent days of Boston's strength. Please know we tip our hat to your city's big heart and gracious spirit. You lead by example and have set the bar very high for others to follow.
Rocky Wirtz, chairman, Wirtz Corporation
John McDonough, president and CEO, Chicago Blackhawks
Kate Mitchum of Schaumburg does not regret wearing a black top to the Blackhawks rally.
“It's slimming and if I get water sprayed on me it won't be see through,” she said.
Mitchum and her three pals from Schaumburg staked out a spot along Columbus just north of Jackson — directly across from the confetti cannon.
“I just saw that. Instant souvenir,” she said.
Mitchum said they actually began “plotting” their rally plans before the game started Monday.
“I took the chairs out, sat in them all, made sure the cup holders all were intact and cleaned them off. Then we started planning seat arrangements.”
Gov. Pat Quinn is joining the festivities, getting read to board one of the buses.
“I've been able to hold the cup,” Quinn told the media, calling it the most storied trophy in sports. “We want to bring it all across Illinois.”
Quinn said he thinks it's important to get the Stanley Cup trophy to the Illinois State Fair and downstate, home to many a Blackhawks fan.
“We're so proud of the players because they believe in teamwork,” Quinn said, pointing to the miracle two goals in 17 seconds.
Some fans came with a plan.
Karen Fletcher of Downers Grove stood with daughter Callie, 8, and son Eli, 6, at a street corner near the parade route, just waiting for the perfect timing.
“Here's what we do,” Fletcher said. “We stand near a corner before they block it off and when the barricades go up, you slide right in.”
8:45 a.m. Daley Plaza
Jake Tomko came in from Glen Ellyn with daughter Caroline, 5.
“As soon as I got off the plane from Philadelphia yesterday we started planning on how we were going to get here,” he said. “We found a gap in the crowd right across from Daley Plaza. How can you beat it.”
Tomko said Caroline was the first one up.
“She came in about 20 minutes before the alarm went off, dressed and ready to go. We told her to go back to bed,” he said.
That was a lost cause.
“I just laid in bed,” Caroline said. “I didn't go back to sleep.”
The Szramek family of Grayslake are contributing to the noise with horns they bought from a street vendor. Bob Szramek, who brought Allie, 16, and Brian, 13, said the family was looking forward to adding the parade to memories of watching Hawks games together.
“At the end we were superstitious,” Bob Szramek said. “We all had to watch it in the same room, in the same spot, using same (drinking) cups.”
Brian chimed it: “We were all like, how is this happening?”
8:10 a.m. Hutchinson Field
Thousands of fans were happy to wait hours before Hutchinson Park opened, but there was a let down when the figurative flood gates didn't open right at 8 o'clock on the dot. The crowd's countdown and screams of “Let us in!” didn't convince security to remove the barricades.
The frustration didn't last long, however, as that moment came about 10 minutes later. Then, it was a free for all to make it close to the stage.
7:42 a.m. Union Station
Kendra Luft, a middle-school teacher from Streamwood, put on her arts and crafts vest for the celebration. She wore a headband with Blackhawks feathers, a beaded Blackhawks shirt and carried a mini glittery tomahawk.
“Arts and crafts, that's the teacher in me,” said Luft, who's with three friends from high school.
7:35 a.m. Union Station
Joey Rodriguez of Aurora stood out among a group of 20 friends with his sandy blonde playoff mullet and beard, wearing a red tank top featuring a yellow silhouette of Patrick Kane's famed haircut.
7:28 a.m. Union Station
Eleanor and Jay West of Addison brought a group of family and friends to attend the championship rally for the second time.
“I think it's pretty cool that we're in our 50s and we still go to these games,” Eleanor said.
Their son Justin, whose family swears is a Jonathan Toews look-alike, still has his playoff beard. Girlfriend Elizabeth Bomancay's homemade shirt also showed some championship creativity with the phrase “My cup size is Stanley.”
7:12 a.m. Union Station
Brianna Carroo of Schaumburg couldn't go to the Blackhawks rally in 2010 because she had college orientation, but she and her mom Irene woke up at 5:45 a.m. hoping to get near a Jumbo Tron for Friday's festivities.
“Everyone was excited on the train too,” Carroo said. “It wasn't as bad waking up then.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.