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Parade long time coming for fans

Parade long time coming for fans

CHICAGO -- Crammed back behind almost 200 people on Wacker Avenue, Scott Pritikin tried his best to see over the many heads in front of him for a little peek at the White Sox players and coaches as they began filing on to the rally stage.

With his camera over his head, Pritikin snapped just a few shots not knowing quite what the pictures may be of, just wanting to capture any little moment of the celebration.

"Just to be here and be a part of this is amazing," Pritikin, 40, said. "Sox fans, including myself, have been waiting our entire lives to see a celebration like this and I wouldn't miss it for anything."

It was a party 88 years in the making and the city of Chicago sure lived up to the hype. A celebration fit for kings was thrown by the city to celebrate the newly crowned World Series champions. Hundreds of thousands of fans packed the streets from 35th and Shields all the way to the rally stage on Wacker and LaSalle overlooking the Chicago Riverfront to take part in the festivities.

Confetti floated down from the tops of the buildings in the Chicago Loop while thousands upon thousands tried to find any place to catch a glimpse of the Sox as they traveled past aboard double-decker buses. Whether it was watching from an office window, standing atop 10-story parking garages or packed like sardines standing in the streets, fans did anything and everything they could to enjoy the end to one of the longest title droughts in all of sports.

Nancy Sulak, 44, and Cheryl Cafcules, 41, used their lunch break from work to walk down the street and stand in the packed, shoulder-to-shoulder crowd on Wacker. The two women are both huge Sox fans, and despite only getting an hour to catch some of the action near the rally stage, both wanted to make sure to take in a piece of the history.

"Our office used to be right here on the corner of LaSalle. We just moved and we were sad that we don't have that great view," Sulak laughed. "But just to be out here and enjoying this gorgeous day with all the other Sox fans is great."

The celebration may have come to a full crescendo in the center of downtown, but it began with just as much enthusiasm outside of U.S. Cellular Field. Fans began lining up outside the park around 9 a.m. CT to try to catch a glimpse of any player. Chants of "Go Sox!" filled the air along with the horns of huge semi-trucks honking in celebration as they passed by on the nearby I-94 expressway.

Kieran O'Brien, 8, and his seven-year-old brother Conor, of Des Plaines, Ill., stood across the street from where the buses exited the park holding signs proclaiming their own grinder rules: "Grinder Rule No. 100 -- Know Your Ring Size" and "Grinder Rule No. 99 -- Come Home Champions."

Playing off the White Sox own rules for winning, the two brothers wanted to find their own way to show the team their support, and that came in the form of signs. Though both don't quite understand the magnitude of just how long the city has waited for a baseball championship, both agreed that being able to take part in watching the players come by was a moment they'll never forget.

"We're really excited because the Sox are just so good," Conor O'Brien said with a huge smile on his face. "We get to celebrate a World [Series] championship!"

As the parade stretched on into the streets of neighboring Bridgeport, more excited cheers and booming ThunderStixx greeted the team. Brooms, many with signs declaring "Sweep Home Chicago" also filled the air. In the densely packed crowd, Rob Molloy, 41, stood with his two children Robert, 8, and Adeline, 5, holding up a sign that read "Bridgeport supports the Sox." For the native South Sider, seeing the team head through the areas most known for being Sox loyalists meant a lot.

"Bridgeport, Comiskey Park, the White Sox have always been one and the same to me, " Molloy said. "For most Bridgeporters, the Sox are their team even though they are also Chicago's team. They hold a special place in Bridgeport, so it's great to see them parade through here too."

The celebration parade was the first for a Chicago sports championship since 1986 when the Bears won their Super Bowl title. Though the Bulls won six titles during the 90s, only rallies at Grant Park were held to recognize those teams.

"I wasn't able to be here in 1986 because of school, so this is my first official parade in Chicago," Pritikin said. "To see how this city has embraced this team is awesome. To be here with all these other fans just excited to catch a glimpse is something special."

One example of the impact that the celebration had on the locals was the fact that both of Molloy's children were able to be in attendance for the parade. Both attend the local BCA Academy and the entire school was given a "Snow Day" to enjoy the citywide celebration.

Having his children there to take part in the celebration was something that almost brought Molloy to tears. He knew that one day his kids may be able to see the Sox win a championship, but never did he think that he would be there to witness it with them.

"I was hoping my kids would see it, but I thought I would be one of the generations to again pass without seeing a World [Series] title," Molloy said. "It's great that they can take part in this and that they don't have to be part of the waiting that most Sox fans have endured. They've got it now, so from here on out it's just expectations of more to come."

Expectations may come into play again soon, but on Friday, the White Sox fans seemed content just to celebrate a title that has been a lifetime in the making.

Kelly Thesier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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