Monday, June 14, 2010

Stanley Cup Spirit in Chicago

Greetings friends,

After watching a spirit-filled World Cup match between South Africa and Mexico at ING Direct Café near Chicago Ave and State Street, I casually sauntered south toward Michigan and Wacker later Friday morning. My girlfriend had informed me earlier of the massive Blackhawks parade that would swamp the city (she didn’t tell me it would swamp the city). Liberal estimates put the crowd at nearly two million–––at the very least, hundreds of thousands of fans made it out to the parade. Some people were rowdy, others were more mild and reserved, but almost everyone in attendance was star struck, captivated by a group of talented young men who earn a living playing hockey and making so many Chicagoans ecstatic.

From my view across the river outside the Tribune tower I stood a block and a river away from the main attractions, the Blackhawks and Stanley Cup. Over a million Blackhawks fans joined me, crowding the streets near Michigan and Wacker and extending a radius from at least several blocks in all directions and hundreds of feet high. I'm referring to those fans who stuck their heads out of local office buildings and apartment high rises to witness the parade.

The weather cooperated insofar as the rain held off–––but the humidity pestered the standing crowd. I overheard one fan say, “It’s beastly out here.”

Still fans wanted a piece of the action and were willing to endure the muggy, sticky-hot conditions for a chance to see their favorite NHL team hoist the Stanley Cup.

“If the Stanley Cup goes by here, I’m not gonna miss it this time,” a middle-aged man said while holding his manual focus camera over his head to gain a better view.

People used various photo taking devices to capture the moment. Some people snapped pictures with cell phones, others created images using wallet-sized digital cameras, and still others utilized more traditional manual focus cameras–––the type of camera that seem to most intimately capture photographic moments.

When the city busted out the tickertape, I knew we were in for a special celebration circa old black and white footage of World War II veterans returning from Europe to a sea of screaming loved ones. From Towes to Chelios to Kane to Seabrook, people in the streets advertised nearly every Blackhawks player.

Climactic, Batman-esque music echoed north my way from the stage on Michigan and Wacker. For a second I thought I was sitting in line waiting for a rollercoaster ride at Six Flags theme park. A loud boat horn bombed our eardrums right after the singing of our national anthem. The horn sounded like the post-goal horn that floods the United Center during Blackhawks games.

During the presentation part of the parade, a man tried to make a mad dash down the Michigan Avenue Bridge. Cops immediately handcuffed the excessive fan.

I interviewed a man while standing in a smaller crowd watching from a distance the conclusion of the parade ceremony. The middle-aged, Hawks-jersey wearing man, Don More, was markedly passionate about his Blackhawks and about the potential effect they might have on young people. Don was only seven-years-old the last time the Stanley Cup came to Chicago. He remembers the victory inspired him and many of his friends to take up hockey as a hobby. The 1961 Blackhawks victory “encouraged even more kids to play hockey,” More said.

More praised the young Blackhawks team for keeping their cool and staying focused enough to “get the job done” during the often tense moments of Stanley Cup finals play.

He hopes that more people will be able to watch future Blackhawks games. Currently, home games are blacked out. He sees this as detrimental to maintaining a sizable fan base.

More offered a “Field of Dreams” kind of philosophy for controlling access to Blackhawks games: “Open it up to people and people will come,” More said.

There has been talk among avid National Hockey League commentators and fans alike that this young Blackhawks team could form a Bulls-like dynasty for years to come if they stay together and continue to skate and shoot in harmony. “I’d like to see them build a dynasty,” More said.

But More did voice one concern: “The only thing holding them back is the salary cap,” More said. If the players decide that a dynasty is what they desire, More thinks it is not inconceivable to see all or most of them cooperate and take small salary cuts to keep together a unit that won the 2010 Stanley Cup in an impressive six games.

Here is an article from Chicago Now that considers how the Blackhawks can keep enough of their players to continue contending for years to come.

After talking with More, I wandered around a little bit to look for someone else to interview. My wandering proved unsuccessful. Still, I managed to get one dedicated fan’s perspective on the Blackhawks.

Before my downtown parading ended, I, along with the rest of the crowd, received a final surprise ending to the festivities: fireworks soared through the air and sounded as loud as canons; they were lit a short distance from where I stood near the Michigan Ave. bridge.

The playing of “Chelsea Dagger,” a song written and performed by the British band called The Fratelli’s cued me that it was time to leave the parade. The song became a theme song for the Hawks this season (read more from I heard a man on the street sarcastically humming the song as I walked down Michigan Ave. Though the song was catchy after the first hundred or so listens, I could not help but chuckle to myself, agreeing with the sarcastic man on the street: I hope the Blackhawks choose a different theme in their quest for the 2011 Stanley Cup.

peace and Go Hawks!


1 comment:

  1. Hey babe I was in that building during the parade!