World Series victory parade draws massive crowds

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(Graphic by Jacqueline Lin / The DePaulia)

On Friday morning, fans dressed in “Cubby Blue” stretched along the Chicago Cubs Parade route starting at Wrigley Field, following Lake Shore Drive south to Grant Park.

They eagerly awaited the arrival of the team that finally won the World Series championship after a 108-year drought.

New Cubs fans held by their parents joined elderly fans dressed in vintage gear from a bygone era came to witness the historic parade. The parade was the city of Chicago’s largest yet, drawing over five million people, according to city officials. Just outside the Loop in Grant Park, where the parade made its final stop, fans piled into Michigan Avenue and the parks to the east — many climbing on top of streetlights and trees — to try to get a look at their favorite players as the parade drove along the route.

“I’ve been to the Blackhawks parades and this is way more crazy than the Blackhawks,” DePaul junior Tia Lindholm said. “I feel like since it’s been 108 years everyone — even if they’re a Sox fan — they came.”

Although Chicago sports have had much success over the past few decades, no one sporting event has brought the city together like the Chicago Cubs World Series victory.

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Second baseman Ben Zobrist hoists up the 2016 World Series MVP Award, which he won for hitting a game-changing double during the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series. (Josh Leff / The DePaulia)

22-year-old Jack Fabbrini remembers going to Cubs games with a hat that was way too big for his head. He is happy the Cubs won, but more so he is happy his parents and grandparents, part of his family’s four generations of Cubs’ fans, got to witness the historic event as well.

“The most compelling thing I seen all day is just being so overwhelmed with all the people who had been waiting for so long and not given up after 108 years,” Fabbrini said. “It’s just being able to realize that people still care. And a city that’s thriving off of sports all the time, but you have one team that can bring all of this is compelling.”

Many fan renditions of “Go Cubs Go” and shouts damning the Cubs’ curse of the billy goat were simultaneously heard in the crowd.

Fans completely overran Grant Park and many fans were pulling others out of the chaos and up the side of the bridge. It was dangerous, but everyone at the parade had an air of goodwill about them.

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Crowds pack the streets surrounding Wrigley Field to catch a glimpse of the World Series champs during Saturday’s parade. (Josh Leff / The DePaulia)

“For the most part I think (the fans) have been pretty respectful,” Lindholm said. “I think most people were just trying to help each other get out of the crowd.”

After 108 years of “maybe next year,” Cubs fans finally trust their team to get the job done in the postseason — some of the daredevil fans who climbed street poles even trusted the crowd enough to catch them after they jumped back down.

Blue and red confetti streamed downward as the team arrived at their destination rally in Grant Park.

The rally featured appearances from the head of baseball operations for the Cubs Theo Epstein, general manager Joe Maddon and many former and present Cubs players.

Maddon was played onto the stage by longtime organist Gary Pressy while hoisting the 2016 World Series trophy in the air. He was met by raucous applause and cheers from Cubs fans in the crowd.

Cubs fans celebrate in Grant Park’s North Rose Garden during the Nov. 4 victory parade. (Josh Leff / The DePaulia)

Cubs fans celebrate in Grant Park’s North Rose Garden during the Nov. 4 victory parade. (Josh Leff / The DePaulia)

“Welcome to Cubstock 2016!” Maddon said, referencing the famous 1969 music festival, Woodstock. “Listen, this is overwhelming. On the drive (from) Wrigleyville down through Michigan to here, the one thing that came to my mind (. . .) is that we’ve known each other forever. You guys are the best. Congratulations.”

Epstein shared a personal story about an 83-year-old woman he met outside of Wrigley after he first came to the team who told him she wanted to see a World Series before she died.

“Deep down I know she made (it), she’s out there somewhere and you guys made it,” Epstein said. “Thank you guys for all that you’ve given us and (. . .) all the support. It means the world to us.”

After Maddon and Epstein came out, the team was announced, prompting even more cheers from the crowd. Key players down the World Series stretch, like the Cubs’ World Series designated hitter Kyle Schwarber, Game 7 pitcher Jon Lester, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and the World Series MVP Ben Zobrist addressed the crowd.

“This is a team of MVPs and this is a city full of MVPs,” Zobrist said.

Zobrist was a part of the 2015 Kansas City Royals team that won the Series last season, but he said once he got to Chicago, he wanted to be a part of the Chicago Cubs team when they finally won their championship.

“It happened, baby. It happened,” Rizzo said. “(…) Every single person has worn this jersey, I feel like has won the World Series with us (. . .) the other day.”

Rizzo gave credit to the team’s strength coach and traveling secretary. He also gave credit to the Cubs history, the reason why the Cubs have such a rich history and loyal fan base.

At the end of the rally, country singer Brett Eldridge came on stage and performed an original rendition of “Go Cubs Go” with the entire championship team performing backing vocals.

The rally concluded the official Cubs festivities on Friday, but the joy the Cubs win brought has still not run its course in Chicago.