Cubs World Series trophy appearance in Naperville thrills fans
Keith Bartelmey was in tears after he had his photo taken with his family next to the Cubs World Series trophy Saturday.
"My grandma was a Cubs fan, my mom is a Cubs fan, so growing up, seeing them and watching games with them, this is one of the coolest things ever," he said, his voice cracking.
The North Aurora man didn't attend the victory parade and rally that took place in Chicago following the Cubs win in November, so when he heard the trophy was coming to the Naperville Municipal Center, he told his family they needed to go. They waited in line with more than 2,000 fans for nearly four hours, much of it in the frigid cold. But Bartelmey said the wait was worthwhile.
"Seeing all the people here smiling, this is just a great atmosphere," he said.
The trophy will be making other public appearances as part of a Midwest tour sponsored by State Farm. Its next suburban stop will be at the Prairie Center for the Arts in Schaumburg from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday.
"We have the best fans in all of America and all you had to do was come to Naperville this morning to find out," said Mike Lufrano, the Cubs' senior vice president of community affairs. "We're so glad to be able to share the trophy and the experience of winning with everybody. We just want to say thank you to all of our fans for supporting us for so many years."
Organizers said the first fan in line to view the Commissioner's Trophy in Naperville arrived at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Others joined him throughout the night, and by the time city volunteers arrived to kick off the event, the line stretched around city hall, through the covered bridge over the DuPage River and onto the Riverwalk.
"I think it has gone really well," said Pam Gallahue, director of the city clerk's office. "People are happy with the traffic pattern."
About 400 people could fit into city hall at a time. Fans wove through every row of chairs in the council chambers, where a video highlighting the Cubs magical season played on a large screen. There was a sense of community among the fans, many who sported World Series attire and snapped pictures of the glass-encased trophy with their phones. They shared happy memories of the playoffs and emotional stories about family members who didn't get to witness the World Series win.
Tammi Watson of Plainfield came to the event alone, but she brought a photo of her father, who died in 2011. The Cubs won the World Series on his birthday, Nov. 2.
"He's the biggest Cubs fan I know," she said. "I stood out here since 8 o'clock, freezing. I'm like, if I lose a toe, it's worth it. I'm so glad I made it."
For more information on the trophy tour, visit cubs.com/trophytour.