CHICAGO (AP) -Thousands of cheering Blackhawks fans lined the streets of downtown Chicago on Friday to congratulate the team for winning the franchise's first Stanley Cup championship since 1961.
The triumphant Blackhawks rode through the streets of Chicago in double-decker buses as fans roared and confetti spilled from the rooftops. Team legends, including Stan Mikita and Tony Esposito, joined current players on the open-topped buses. A sea of fans wearing the team's red-and-black colors streamed into the streets behind the caravan as it headed to Michigan Avenue.
The parade and rally drew new fans along with die-hards like 23-year-old Andy Dwyer of St. Charles, who has the tattoos to prove it, one on each calf. He said his team will go all the way again next year.
The Blackhawks beat the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime Wednesday to win the series 4-2.
Chicago resident Don McCauley said even an afternoon game between the city's baseball rivals, the White Sox and the Cubs, wouldn't keep him away from the celebration.
"It is summertime. It is a beautiful time to be in Chicago," McCauley said.
Suburban Chicago resident Morgan Mowry hoped to get a glimpse of the Stanley Cup and see one particular player. "Marian Hossa. I love Marian Hossa," she said. "I'm wearing his jersey right now."
Her boyfriend, Ray Dignan, said he didn't mind. "He's a hockey god," he said.
A day before the parade, Michael Pigozzi was selling Blackhawks gear along the Chicago River downtown, from a $5 pin to a $150 jersey.
"We didn't even have the T-shirts out of boxes and we were selling them wildly this morning," Pigozzi said, his pockets stuffed with cash. "I've never seen it like this before."
John Stibal of Chicago bought T-shirts for his sons, ages 11 and 16.
"They have been following the Blackhawks for a couple of years and they're excited about it," Stibal said. "I told them this hasn't happened in my lifetime so they realize it's a big deal."