Fans flock to streets for Cubs victory parade

Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein wave to fans during a parade honoring the World Series champions, Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein wave to fans during a parade honoring the World Series champions, Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Cubs players enjoyed their victory lap on Friday, waving to tens of thousands of elated fans crowded along miles of city streets during a parade honoring the first Cubs team to win a World Series title in 108 years.

The parade led the champions to Grant Park where a massive rally extended the glory of the Cubs’ historic win.

Lifelong fan Daniel Flores, 40, said he Facetimed the moment with his sister who wasn’t near a TV. He said between cheering and breaking down in tears, he must have “woken up the apartment building.”

Earlier, throngs of young and old blue-clad fans roared as the motorcade of open-roofed buses carrying the players cruised along Lake Shore Drive. The mood was jubilant, bolstered by an unseasonably warm and sunny November day and clear blue skies.

Vendors hawked pennants and shirts, and selfie-taking teens tried to capture the crowds. Many just beamed.

Retiree Jarvis Moffett, 60, arrived at the lakefront park hours ahead of the rally just to take in the atmosphere.

“I’m an old-school Cubs fan,” he said, gesturing to the sky and crowds. “This is what you live for. It doesn’t get any better.”

Miriam Santiago, 51, said she carried holy water, her rosary and a bright green lucky baseball with her during the playoffs. On Friday, she brought a goat mask with dynamite in its mouth and let other fans pose for photos wearing it outside Wrigley Field. She said she believes her lucky charms helped reverse the curse.

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 Wednesday night in Cleveland. The last time the Cubs even reached the Fall Classic was in 1945.

Steve Angelo carried his 4-year-old son, Nicholas, on his shoulders. The pair wore matching jerseys for first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

“The more and more they win now, at his earlier age, the more and more excitement there is,” Angelo said.

Atop the double-decker buses, some Cubs players posed together for photographs, while others held their children and sat with their families. Center fielder Dexter Fowler had a cigar as the team headed toward the rally that some fans have called the “celebration of a century.”

Fans packed morning commuter trains, causing delays despite increased service and capacity, to get downtown and find a viewing spot before the festivities began.

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 parade wound through downtown and ended roughly 7 miles south in Grant Park, where the rally started in the early afternoon. The city also dyed the Chicago River a bright shade of blue to match the Cubs’ colors, repurposing a decades-long tradition of dying the river green on St. Patrick’s Day.

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 and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner declared Friday as “World Champion Chicago Cubs Day” statewide.