Making it to the playoffs is an accomplishment in itself, but winning the Stanley Cup is an entirely different story. I watched every game of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs and watched the Blackhawks make it closer and closer to the big win. Next thing I know, I’m sitting in a hotel with my family, watching the Hawks play in what could be the final game of the year. 2 goals later, the Chicago Blackhawks became Stanley Cup Champions for the 3rd time in 6 years.
I jumped up and down on my bed, yelled a little too loud, and spilled soda on the white hotel bedspread… oops 😉 But that was just the beginning of the celebration.
I was working at the Peoria Chiefs at the time, and a few of my co-workers got together and decided we were going to take a trip up to the Stanely Cup parade. At the end of the parade, the players give speeches and this typically takes place in Grant Park, however this year it was going to be held at Soldier Field. This meant that a limited number of people would be able to get into Soldier Field to see the event and you had to get tickets to claim your spot. This was going to be my first time experiencing the Stanley Cup celebration…so I did everything I could to get tickets! My friends and I rallied together and somehow managed to get 4 tickets to the event. I WAS PUMPED!
Journey To The Kingdom
The journey to Chicago began around 2 in the morning. We were all carpooling to the event and needed to catch a train to get to the city. Once we got to the station I started seeing people decked out in the favorite Blackhawks gear. This only made me more excited. Once we got off the train and into the city, I was engulfed by a sea of red. People filled the streets to support their beloved Blackhawks.
We walked a few blocks to get to Soldier Field where we were greeted with even more Hawks fans. We somehow managed to be the first people in line at our particular gate into the stadium. Once we got in, we found our seats, splurged $25 for a pretzel and a soda and waited for the festivities to begin.
The Hawks Have Arrived
I can promise you, my entire body had chills that day. Many of them gave speeches and thanked their fans. It felt like it wasn’t just a celebration for them, but a celebration for the fans as well. They made everyone there feel like we had a part in their accomplishment.
Full of Tears
Although this was a very happy and exciting experience, there is one moment that I will never forget. Clint Reif, the Blackhawk’s Assistant Equipment Manager, had passed away earlier in the season. There is a special tradition among the team to pass around a championship belt to a key player after games. Kris Versteeg passed that belt to Reif’s youngest son CJ at the rally. I shed a few tears in that moment. Classy move Versteeg.
It’s Only Just Begun
The end of the celebration included confetti, fireworks, and lots of cheering. We stayed for a bit to soak in the atmosphere and take a few pictures. Even leaving the venue felt surreal because the city was flooded with people in support of the hawks.