Tradition. Honor. Passion.
Walking through the doors at the Chicago History Museum last night for the Fire's fifteenth anniversary celebration you immediately got a sense of what those words mean to Fire supporters. For those that have never been inside the building itself I highly recommend visiting and touring the exhibits even without a room full of Fire dignitaries present. The Museum provided the perfect setting for Section 8 Chicago's intentional nod to civic history and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 by tying the club's brief existence into a celebration held within a structure dedicated to honoring and remembering the City's past. By the end of the night it was apparent to every attendee that those three words are more than just a catchy slogan or marketing tool created for the purpose of selling t-shirts.
Members of the 1998 MLS Championship team, great players of days gone by, and local soccer royalty in Chicago Sting owner Lee Stern mingled with supporters, chatted, signed autographs, and posed for photos. Peter Nowak, Chris Armas, Lubos Kubik, Frank Klopas, Jesse Marsch, Hristo Stoichkov, Diego Gutierrez, Peter Wilt, Brian McBride, Kelly Gray, Dasan Robinson, Zach Thornton, Ante Razov, Justin Mapp, Denis Hamlett, and Mike Sorber were all in attendance along with the entire current roster. The 1998 Championship trophy along with all four US Open Cup trophies were on display along with a collection of Fire jerseys and an exhibit of Section 8 Chicago scarfs.
With planning for the event initiated in January, it's most impressive that the Anniversary party was organized and coordinated by fans who felt strongly enough about the club they support to dedicate days, weeks, and months of personal time into honoring it's history. Although fifteen years is a brief history in comparison to the lore surrounding the other "major" sports in Chicago, an accomplishment like the one Fire supporters managed to pull off last night should be roundly applauded.
From initial planning, scouting locations, promotion, and most importantly working out the logistics of locating and transporting many of the Fire legends to and from the event it was apparent to anyone attending that this was a thoughtfully orchestrated class event that would have made supporters of any professional franchise envious.
The organizers at Section 8 Chicago who poured their passion into making the event a reality had their countless hours of work and dedication rewarded with a night that could be best described in three words. Tradtion. Honor. Passion.
That's truly what was on display last night.
- The Daily Herald's Orrin Schwarz wrote an excellent article about the event. Check it out here.
- Tune in to ESPN 1220 AM tomorrow morning at 7:30, where I'm sure we'll discuss the Fire Anniversary and the win over New York.
- The Fire Reserves play FC Dallas Wednesday morning at 10am.