Blackhawks parade route updated -- the best ways to enjoy it

  • Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, right, salute the fans Monday after winning the Stanley Cup Final Game 6 at the United Center in Chicago. Want to celebrate the win with the team and the entire city of Chicago? We've got some tips to get the most out of your parade and celebration experience Thursday.

    Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, right, salute the fans Monday after winning the Stanley Cup Final Game 6 at the United Center in Chicago. Want to celebrate the win with the team and the entire city of Chicago? We've got some tips to get the most out of your parade and celebration experience Thursday. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Hawks parade route

    Graphic: Hawks parade route (click image to open)

 
 
Updated 6/17/2015 6:26 PM

If you plan to venture to Chicago on Thursday for the Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory parade and rally, you'll need a lot of patience, and maybe a raincoat.

As many as 2 million people are expected to come out to see Blackhawks team members escort the Stanley Cup trophy through confetti-filled streets to Soldier Field.

 

And the parade route got longer as a result.

The parade will begin at 10 a.m. starting at Washington Boulevard and Racine Avenue, running east along Washington to Desplaines Street, then south on Desplaines to Monroe Street, and finally east on Monroe to Michigan Avenue where it ends.

The ticketed rally -- the free tickets are "sold" out, but many scalpers are selling them -- will follow at 11 a.m. in Soldier Field. The rally was moved there because Grant Park was flooded.

Parking lots will open at 5 a.m. and the gates at Soldier Field will open at 8 a.m. The city will outfit the south parking lot with large TV screens for overflow crowds.

Officials are encouraging fans to use public transportation, as access to many parking garages along the route could be restricted.

Because of Soldier Field's limited seating -- it holds between 60,000 to 65,000 people -- fans Wednesday started an online petition through change.org to get the rally moved back outdoors. By 5 p.m., the petition garnered more than 4,600 signatures.

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On Tuesday fans had complained on social media that the festivities should be held on Friday rather than Thursday, given that it's a more convenient day for many people.

But the rally remains set for Thursday morning.

Fans going to the parade and rally should expect packed trains to and from the suburbs. People will line up 10 rows deep on sidewalks along the route. You'll need to walk for many blocks and stand for hours. Water and toilets will be hard to come by.

But for hard-core Blackhawks fans, it's worth it to have the unforgettable experience of celebrating with the dynasty team amid a sea of red and black jerseys.

If you go, here is some advice from people who celebrated their team at the 2010 and 2013 parades:

• Don't just go early. Go really early.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

One fan said she arrived at the 2013 rally an hour and a half early and it was already packed. Metra is arranging for extra trains ("as many trains as possible," according to a news release), and a special $5 unlimited ride ticket. But some fans recall the painfully long lines for trains in 2013, which delayed their travel. Car traffic will be slow, too. Basically, you won't be going anywhere fast. Allot extra time.

• Prepare for spotty cellphone service.

Cellphone service could be spotty downtown because so many people are using it. It's a good idea to have a meeting place with friends in case you're not able to call or text each other.

• Hit up friends who work in downtown offices.

A good view of the parade is from above. So if you know someone who works in an office along the parade route, you might want to ask if you can watch from the office window.

• Pack a rain poncho.

The forecast calls for rain. And you don't want to navigate with an umbrella in a crowd of 2 million people.

• Pick one of three places: United Center, Monroe Street or Soldier Field.

You're not going to be able to move from place to place easily, so pick a place and stake out your spot. You can go to the United Center, where the players and Stanley Cup depart for the parade. This spot has the best odds of getting a player autograph, if past years are an indication. Or, you can stand along the parade route, where some fans insist the viewing is the best as the confetti streams down and the player-filled trucks roll by. At the rally, you can hear the players speak and watch on large video screens.

• Remember a few obvious things.

Bring a phone charger, water and sunscreen. Wear Blackhawks clothing. And be sure to experience the moment, rather than seeing it all from behind a cellphone camera. Camera phone photos can disappear, but memories will last a lifetime.

Metra's $5 tickets will be available from ticket agents (not machines) starting Wednesday. Children ages 11 and under can ride free. Alcohol or bicycles will not be allowed on the trains Thursday, and there will be extra security to enforce this.

Metra carried about 425,000 passengers on the day of the 2013 Blackhawks rally, the second highest daily total in Metra's history.

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