CHICAGO (AP) — The celebration hasn’t stopped in Chicago as throngs of Chicago Cubs fans began pouring into the city Friday morning ahead of a parade and rally honoring the World Series champions.
Fans packed morning commuter trains, causing delays despite increased service and capacity, while draped in the Cubs’ white and blue “W” victory flags before 7 a.m. Crowds along the parade route outside Wrigley Field were several people deep.
Events are scheduled to get underway at the historic ballpark with a parade leaving at 10 a.m. The parade will wind its way through downtown and end roughly 7 miles south in the city’s lakeside Grant Park, where a rally is expected to start around noon.
Laurie Winter woke up at 4 a.m. so she and her 2-year-old son, Cooper, could come in from the suburb of South Elgin and be among the fans outside Wrigley Field to see the players.
“I think everyone is excited about where this team is going,” Winter said. “We can’t wait to see them come out and get crazy.”
The city also repurposed a decades-long St. Patrick’s Day tradition of dying the Chicago River green. This time, the river was a bright shade of blue — to match the Cubs’ colors — on Friday.
A victory party is new territory for long-suffering fans of the Cubs, who hadn’t won a World Series title in 108 years before their Game 7, extra-inning thriller in Cleveland on Wednesday night. The last time the Cubs even reached the Fall Classic was in 1945.
It’s unclear how many people will attend Friday’s parade and rally. The city estimates that 2 million people attended similar events in 2015, after the Chicago Blackhawks won their third Stanley Cup in six years — but generations of Cubs fans have far more pent-up celebrating to do.
Friday was already a scheduled day off for Chicago Public Schools, meaning the city’s 390,000 public-school students will be able to attend, and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner declared Friday as “World Champion Chicago Cubs Day” statewide.