Reporting Bob Roberts
CHICAGO (WBBM) — Forgive Jim Cornelison for being careful with his voice. He is battling a cold and has to sing the National Anthem twice on Sunday: at Soldier Field, before the Bears-Packers NFC Championship game, and at the United Center, before Sunday night’s Blackhawks-Flyers match.
It’s the second consecutive week that the Blackhawks are lending the Bears Cornelison to sing the “Star Spangled Banner.”
The cheering that has been the trademark of United Center Blackhawks crowds for years was in ample evidence last Sunday at Soldier Field, exposing the Chicago hockey tradition to a whole new national audience.
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Cornelison said Thursday he is a bit amazed by the response to last weekend’s performance, which has scored more than 1 million hits on YouTube. It also has generated hundreds of responses, e-mails, calls, text messages and Facebook friend requests.
“It’s a tremendously positive response from people,” he said. “It’s really touching. This is just an explosion. It’s completely unexpected on my part.”
Cornelison sang the Anthem in a sports jacket Sunday and said he will do so again this Sunday, despite the colder temperatures that are forecast.
He said he only had his overcoat off “for about four minutes” before the Bears-Seahawks game. Someone will be holding his overcoat the sideline ready to give it back immediately, Cornelison said.
“I was freezing by the end,” he said. “I looked at those players (most of whom play with bare arms) and I thought, ‘My gosh, they have nothing on.’”
Cornelison said he is a fan of “American Idol” winner Lee DeWyze, who was originally scheduled to sing the Anthem but was replaced by the NFL Tuesday at the Bears’ request. DeWyze will perform instead at halftime. Cornelison said he is a fan of DeWyze, rooted for him during American Idol’s run last year and is pleased that both of them can perform.