I might be new to playing hockey, but I've followed the Chicago Blackhawks for 24 years. I went to the team's previous Stanley Cup celebration parade from 2010, and have some helpful advice on how you can make the most of this Friday's Blackhawks victory parade.
1. Take the CTA. Do not drive. Parades, obviously, cause street closures, which is going to hamper your access to street parking and parking lots. The CTA Tattler gives some great advice on how to get downtown with the fewest headaches. Take the bus, take the train, but don't take your car. If you live in the 'burbs, you can take the Metra for $5 on Friday.
2. Beeline to Grant Park. The parade will go down Washington (between Desplaines and Wabash) and then Columbus Drive (between Monroe and Balbo). If you want to see the rally -- where the players and Coach Q will give their speeches -- then try to get as close to Columbus & Balbo as possible. You can enter Grant Park at Lasalle or Jackson on Friday (see this helpful map from the Chicago Tribune).
3. Dress light. I wore my Chris Chelios Blackhawks jersey to the 2010 parade. That day, I wish I wore a t-shirt instead. I know that 80-degree weather is no excuse to leave your Indian-head sweater at home (what's a little heat?), but 80-degree weather when shoulder-to-shoulder with 2 million of your closest friends makes a jersey feel like a wool coat. And that wool coat feels ten times worse when standing in a packed Red Line train car for 14 stops when going home. If I ever sweat that much again in one day, I better be playing hockey.
4. No coolers, backpacks or booze. Alcohol will not be allowed at the parade or rally, and neither will coolers -- but you can bring a bottle of water so long as it is capped. Police may also stop and search people with backpacks. This is not the time to bring reading material, your iPod or the scarf you've been knitting on the way to work every morning. The less you bring, the better.
5. Have fun. Be prepared to endure "mosh pit-like" conditions -- that is, being in a crowd with people screaming their heads off. You'll probably be bumped, pushed and stepped on. People will cut in front of you and probably do something you'll find rude. And swear. Plus, your cell phone photos will all probably come out blurry, no matter where you stand. I know this sounds like common sense, but you are at the parade to celebrate. Just go with the flow, have fun and don't be crabby -- like that woman behind me in the 2010 parade -- and you'll have a good time.
The Blackhawks parade will begin at 10:30 a.m. at Desplaines and Washington. The rally will start around 11 a.m. at Hutchinson Field (Columbus & Balbo) in Grant Park.
Or, you could stay home and watch the parade on Channel 2 (CBS). Their coverage starts at 9 a.m. You'd have a better view and be in air conditioning. Just sayin'.
BONUS: Here's a video I shot in 2010, which will give you an idea of what being at the parade is like.
Filed under: Advice