Two million Blackhawks’ fans celebrate another Stanley Cup


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An estimated two million fans lined Monroe Street by 10 a.m. Thursday for a glimpse of the Blackhawks at the Stanley Cup celebration parade. Many became fans after the team won in 2010, but for Edi Andrade, this year was the prime opportunity to join what Chicagoans are calling the city’s hockey dynasty.

“The best part was getting all my friends together. We knew the parade would be awesome and the whole city is going to be here celebrating,” Andrade, a recent graduate of Marengo Community High School and incoming freshman at the University of Iowa said.

“It’s my first time at the parade,” he said. “We knew it was going to be insane, so that’s why we came.”

Andrade and his 10 friends caught  5 a.m train and claimed a spot at the intersection of State and Monroe Streets. By 9 a.m. the sidewalks were crowded and a crowd of 15 young fans were starting cheers and high-fiving passerby.

For some fans, seeing team captain Jonathan Toews was the highlight of the parade.

“I feel great,” Chicagoan Rachel Grant said after the parade. “I saw Toews. He’s so hot.”

Grant enjoyed the parade this year compared to 2013 because it didn’t go by as quickly.

Clayton Cooper of Logan Square, however, was disappointed because the rally wasn’t held in Grant Park like it was in 2013, where two million fans attended. The rally this year inside Soldier Field only held 62,000.

“There was a sea of red all over (Grant) Park,” Cooper said. A fan since 2010, Cooper was disappointed he couldn’t attend the rally this year.

“This year we couldn’t get tickets. The site wouldn’t work and we couldn’t use it. It sucks,” Cooper said.

Free tickets for the rally went on sale Wednesday at noon and sold out within 15 minutes, leaving desperate fans to buy tickets for hundreds of dollars.

Whether they attended the parade or the rally, what all fans had in common was their reaction when the team won 2-0 in game six against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“Everyone went out of the bar and started shouting in the streets,” Drew Gaurke, a junior at Loyola University in Chicago said. Gaurke watched the game in a popular bar on Loyola’s campus. “It was crazy. There was no place to sit.”

Cooper was tempted to go to Wrigleyville to watch the game, but watched it downtown instead.

“I was not going to join that mess,” Cooper said. News coverage moments after the Blackhawks won last Monday showed thousands packed into Wrigleyville’s streets. Fans cheered for hours, sprayed champagne and climbed street posts.

It was a historic night. The team won not only three championships in six years, but also won the first championship at home in 77 years.

“I was optimistic all year when they got to the playoffs. Before that it was iffy,” Cooper said. “The biggest challenges during the season were the (Anaheim) Ducks and the (Tampa Bay) Lightning early on. They were better than anyone thought.”

“I did not have faith. I thought they were going to lose to Anaheim, but they came through,” Lincoln Park resident, Sue Barone said.

Her daughter Elsie Barone, a student at Lafayette college, was more optimistic and said she didn’t wash her lucky Blackhawks sweatshirt the whole season.

The Barones moved to Chicago from Switzerland, where 13 of the NHL’s players originate from. Elsie explained that hockey fandom in Europe isn’t the same as in Chicago. The Swiss like hockey, Barone said, but when it comes to team loyalty, they can’t compete.