Two million frantic fans lined the streets of Chicago on Friday to show love for their hockey team after the Blackhawks brought home the Stanley Cup for the second time in four years.
Red, white and black confetti poured through the sky as the team took a victory lap on open top buses past cheering crowds that packed the parade route through the US city’s downtown.
Players waved and took turns hoisting the heavy silver cup over their heads as they drove slowly through a sea of red jerseys toward a massive rally in Grant Park.
The Blackhawks can add this trophy to championships they won in 1934, 1938, 1961 and 2010.
Top seeded Chicago also became the first team to win the Presidents’ Trophy — as the team with the best record in the regular season — and the Stanley Cup in the same season since Detroit beat Pittsburgh in 2008.
They beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 in Game 6 of Monday’s finals in a sudden reversal with just minutes left on the clock.
“When they scored two goals in 17 seconds I was ecstatic — I was on the floor going out of my mind,” said Pat Crost, who had a Blackhawks flag draped over his shoulders and a No. 1 fan foam fist pinned to his team hat.
“I came to [the parade in] 2010 and it was fantastic,” Crost, 23, added. “I needed to be here again. Couldn’t miss it.”
Justin Capitan, 24, lined up at the crack of dawn to be among the first through the gates when the park opened on Friday morning.
He whiled away part of the more than four hour wait for his team by trying to catch a beach ball with a homemade Stanley Cup he wore on his head.
“I just want to celebrate the championship and to be here with everybody — it was pretty exciting in 2010,” Capitan said.
Friends Hannah Wotaszak and Allison Fuss, both 16, painted their faces black and red and sketched the numbers of their favorite players on their cheeks.
“Jonathan Towes is my favorite player,” Wotaszak said. “He’s a really good player and he’s cute.”
Fuss was all giggles as she explained her pick: “Patrick Sharp — I mean he’s hot. He’s a good player and he’s hot.”
Sharon Forde, 42, kept getting stopped by fellow fans who wanted a picture of the rockabilly dress she had sewn with the Blackhawks logo stretched sexily around her body.
“Want me to shake my tail feathers?” she asked cheekily.
Forde said she had been a fan since she moved to Chicago from Ireland at the age of four after a beloved aunt regaled her with tales of being by the ice for the team’s 1961 victory and then strapped her into skates and taught her to play on a rink in the backyard.
“All the Hawks players are just the most gracious people I’ve ever met,” she said, describing how legend Bobby Hull happily chatted with her aunt on the telephone when Forde met him at a signature fair.
The players displayed that graciousness by thanking their fans for coming out in force.
“This is just unbelievable,” team captain Jonathan Towes told the cheering crowd, his voice hoarse. “Thank you for coming out, guys.”
Forward Patrick Sharp said he wants to bring the cup back again next year and thanked the fans for supporting the team all season long.
“You guys make Chicago and the United Center the nicest place to play in the entire NHL,” he added as the crowd roared.