Chicago will celebrate the Cubs’ first World Series championship since 1908 with a parade and rally in Grant Park that will be worth the 108-year wait, a bleary-eyed Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Thursday.
The giant rally is expected to dwarf the ones that happily became almost old hat during the Bulls pair of three-peats during the 1990s and the more recent celebrations for the Black Hawks’ Stanley Cup championships in 2010, 2013 and 2015.
During an appearance on the South Side, Emanuel said he has talked to Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts “multiple times” about the celebration since the Cubs clinched the World Series title on Wednesday night in a ten-inning game for the ages.
“We’re gonna have a parade in Chicago that will stand the test of time,” said the mayor, who attended Game 7 in Cleveland.
“It will be a parade and a celebration that all of Chicago for 108 years in their mind’s eye have been envisioning and we’re gonna make it a reality here in the city of Chicago.”
The parade will begin at 11 a.m., with team buses leaving Wrigley Field at 10 a.m.
The official procession will travel along Michigan Avenue between Oak and Ohio and then along Columbus between Monroe and Balbo. Fans who want to catch the downtown parade are encouraged to see them along this route.
Fans were also encouraged to view the parade at three other locations:
- Addison, from Sheffield to Pine Grove
- North Michigan from Oak to Ohio
- Columbus from Monroe to Balbo
There will be “zero tolerance” for drinking on public streets and sidewalks, the city said in a news release. Chicago police as well as suburban officers will be patrolling the route starting at 3 a.m. Friday.
The celebration rally will be held at noon at Lower Hutchinson Field in Grant Park. That’s where President Barack Obama claimed the presidency in 2008.
The rally will be free and open to the public. All attendees must pass through security screening at entrances at Michigan and Jackson, and at Michigan and Congress.
Only closed water bottles will be allowed into the rally.
The CTA will beef up service after the morning rush on eight rail lines to accommodate an expected tidal wave of Cubs fans traveling downtown to celebrate.
Street closures in the downtown area will require CTA buses to be detoured during the parade and rally.
Fans were strongly urged to take public transportation.
Metra is offering a one-day $5 unlimited ride ticket for those looking to come downtown for the parade and rally. Metra’s Executive Director Don Orseno said Friday may be the busiest day in the rail service’s history and riders were encouraged to check Metra’s website for any service changes.
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed has reported that the Chicago River would be dyed Cubbie blue to celebrate the end of the longest drought in the history of professional sports.
On Thursday, Emanuel confirmed that he is the prime mover behind those ongoing discussions. But it’s not a sure thing.
“I want to do a lot, but I’m not allowed to talk about it,” the mayor said.
“I don’t know the answer. We’re working through it right now. I know that’s the desire by a lot of people. And there’s a desire by one person. But, it may not work. So, I’m not gonna get out [over] my ski tips, as I just did ten seconds ago.”
Pressed for details about the time and route of the giant civic celebration, Emanuel said the event is still coming together. So is the parade route. Preliminary plans call for the team caravan to leave Wrigley Field, tentatively proceed south on Clark Street to Belmont, then take Lake Shore Drive to Grant Park.
“Tomorrow as in Friday. Tomorrow as in around this time. Tomorrow as in, why are you asking me these particular questions when you’ll get `em,” the mayor said shortly before noon.
“Just stand somewhere in the middle of the city and you’ll see it,” he then joked. “We’re literally working out the details right now as I’m standing in front of you.”
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Sources said the city’s preference had been to celebrate the Cubs’ World Series title on Saturday or Monday with a parade from Wrigley Field to Grant Park.
But the Cubs pressed the city to move it up to Friday for two big reasons.
After an exhausting climb back from a 3-to-1 World Series deficit, some of the Cubs players are eager to leave town on vacation.
Also, Major League Baseball is scheduled to start its general managers’ meetings on Monday in Scottsdale, Arizona. That would have meant the Theo trio — President of Business Operations Theo Epstein, General Manager Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod, senior vice-president of player development and amateur scouting — would likely be unable to attend the rally.
Although time is short, the Emanuel administration is determined to hold a civic celebration worthy of Cubs Nation and those die-hard fans who did not live long enough to see their beloved team bury the billy goat curse and assorted jinxes.
“Who hasn’t had a relative say, `If I had one thing to live for, it’s to see the Cubs win,” Emanuel said.
“We’ve all had relatives and they’ve gone on in life. They’re up there now looking down. And their dream has been realized. So, we’re gonna have a celebration. We’re gonna have a parade in the city of Chicago that brings people from all over the city and all over to come and celebrate what we’ve all been waiting for for 108 years and was realized” in Cleveland on Wednesday night.
One advantage for a Friday parade is that Chicago Public Schools students won’t have to cut class to be there — the district already has scheduled a day off on Friday for what is called a “School Improvement Day.” Most staff will still be at work, but students won’t be in class. Some charter schools also are scheduled to be off.
Meanwhile, Chicago police were told just Thursday morning to be prepared to work a 12-hour shift on Friday, according to police scanner traffic.