Millions Converge On Grant Park For The Cubs' World Series Rally
By Rachel Cromidas in News on Nov 4, 2016 5:55PM
Over 2 million people were packed shoulder-to-shoulder into Grant Park Friday afternoon anticipating the arrival of the Cubs.
The city's population is about 3 million people, so just imagine a crowd the size of two-thirds of the city's total residents packed into Grant Park.
Taking Wrigleyville figures into account, Chicago officials estimated some 5 million people were in attendance total.
The team rode down to Grant Park from Wrigley Field on parade buses Friday morning as millions more fans along the parade route cheered them on. The Friday rally came together quickly; the team, as we all know, won the World Series for the first time in 108 years Wednesday night in a tense Game 7 against the Cleveland Indians that went into a nail-biting 10th inning. And 36 hours later, the river is a bright Cubs blue, Michigan Avenue is a mad-house, and the Cubs are taking their very well-deserved victory lap.
Fans started crowding into Grant Park in the early hours of the morning, and the stream of people didn't stop:
Of course, Grant Park is no stranger to large crowds—exactly eight years ago it hosted President Barack Obama's first acceptance speech.
Cubs' co-owner Tom Ricketts was beaming as he congratulated the team at the top of the rally:
"You don't win the World Series on accident, you win the World Series because you have great people working together to achieve a goal," he said.
"I would tell people, the men who are on the field when the Cubs win the World Series are not just going to be Chicago baseball players, they're going to be Chicago baseball legends," he said. "And those Chicago baseball legends were led by anew Chicago baseball legend in his own right, our coach Joe Maddon."
"How many years has it been since the Cubs won the World Series?" Ricketts asked the crowd as he closed his speech. "The answer is zero years!"
As organ accompaniment played in the background, Cubs President Theo Epstein thanked fans for persevering with the team through so many changes and near-misses.
"For a while there, we forgot the 'not' in 'Try not to suck,'" he said.
Maddon was both thankful and forward-looking in his speech, after looking out over the massive crowd and shouting, "Welcome to Cubs-stock 2016!"
"I've been around baseball for a bit, never, never have I experienced anything like Wrigley Field on a nightly basis. It's different, it's spectacular, it's comfortable, it's warm, and it's the way it should be," Maddon said. "I want to congratulate the fans, and thank you for being so patient. Let's hope that it's not another 108 years. Let's see if we can come back and repeat this."
Pitcher Jon Lester was the first to drop a swear: "How about this shit?! Sorry, kids!"
“This is a team full of MVPs, and this is a city full of MVPs," Ben Zobrist said, who added that he literally prayed to sign with the Cubs over the offseason. "How can I top (winning in Kansas City)? Then I started thinking about Chicago."
"Every single person that has worn this jersey, I feel like won the World Series with us the other day," first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. "Ernie Banks, who is looking down smiling so bright right now."
Then Rizzo handed the final-out Game Seven ball, valued at millions, to the Cubs owner. "The man that really made (the World Series win) happen was our own Mr. Tom Ricketts. He sacrificed everything for the Chicago Cubs and this city, and it only feels right for me to hand this ball over to Mr. Ricketts."
Then Rizzo choked up as he introduced retiring fan-favorite veteran David Ross.
"Chicago! look what the boys got me!" Ross exclaimed, holding up the trophy and snapping a selfie with the team.
After a highlight reel of Game Seven, the speakers blasted "Sweet Home Chicago" and "We Are the Champions."