Blackhawks Fans Pack Downtown For Victory Parade, Rally
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Updated 06/28/13 – 5:47 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – About two million Blackhawks fans crowded city streets downtown and packed into Grant Park for the team’s Stanley Cup victory parade and rally Friday morning.
Players, coaches, and their families boarded buses and trolleys at the United Center promptly at 10 a.m., and began rolling about 15 minutes later, headed east to Des Plaines and Washington streets for the start of the parade at 10:30 a.m.
From there, the parade headed east to Wabash Avenue, where the team continued east to Michigan Avenue, north to Randolph Street, east to Columbus Drive, and then south into Grant Park around 11:15 a.m. for the rally.
The city said Hutchinson Field can hold up to 100,000 people, but far more people lined the parade route.
Blackhawks TV announcer Pat Foley served as master of ceremonies for the rally, “We know the Blackhawks have the best fans in the world, now you know you’ve got the best hockey team in the world.”
Team President John McDonough thanked fans for their support, and said the team would continue to strive for more championships after winning two Stanley Cups in four years.
“We will never waver from our one goal,” he said. “We are very proud to represent the city of Chicago. … We are Chicago proud.”
Entrances to the victory rally opened at 8 a.m. on Michigan Avenue at Congress Parkway and Jackson Boulevard, though many fans were standing in line hours earlier than that.
The city set up metal barricades along the sidewalks on the parade route, and has cautioned fans not to try to enter the street to follow the buses, or risk arrest. Most spectators complied and there were few incidents of people entering Washington Street.
The city set up about two miles of metal barricades in the park, to create a series of corrals aimed at avoiding a crushing effect as crowds move around in the park.
City officials have told fans there will be a zero tolerance policy on alcohol at the parade and rally. Coolers will not be allowed, though fans have been encouraged to bring bottled water to protect themselves from the heat. The Salvation Army and the city also supplied thousands of bottles of water for fans at the park.
Fire Department officials said paramedics treated 91 people at the rally by 1 p.m.. Of those, 42 people went to hospitals. By 1 p.m., Grant Park had virtually emptied after the rally ended.
Most of the people treated were suffering from heat-related symptoms, so they were taken out of the sun, and given water or Gatorade. The city also set up misting units to help cool down the crowd.
Temperatures reached the upper 70s during the parade and rally, and skies were clear all morning.
Metra, which offered $5 all-day passes, reported extremely high commuter volume and there were delays getting into downtown as fans packed trains to get to the parade and rally. The huge crowds forcing trains to skip some stops because they can’t fit any more passengers on board.