When I told my boss the Stanley Cup was going to be in the Chicago pride parade, he said he’d fire me if I didn’t go. I should thank him for the pressure, because it was a tremendous experience. While I am sure many (most) at the parade do not care about hockey, the roar of the crowd signified how monumental the moment was for the community. It was unmatched by anything else in the parade.
As the Chicago Gay Hockey Association and their float carrying Brent Sopel and the Stanley Cup approach, the crowd let out a thunderous applause. We were fortunate to be stationed near a side street that was blocked by several city cleanup trucks. As the Cup approached, the city workers honked the horns of the trucks in celebration. With more honking came more cheering. In response, Sopel lifted the Cup up off his stand and proudly held it above his head to the crowd. The cheering, the yelling, the clapping, and the whistling all escalated.
I don’t know if he did this at all at any other point in the parade, but I am sure glad I got to witness it.
Outsports interviewed Sopel after the event. This is what he had to say:
“I wasn’t here to advocate (anything), but if coming here helps break down walls in the meantime, so be it. I was here for Brendan (Burke),” said Sopel, who rode on the float with his wife. “I hope he is smiling (from heaven).”
It was also excellent to see the Chicago Cubs float in the parade with Hall of Famer Ernie Banks aboard and recently out country music star Chely Wright as the grand marshal of the parade.
Here are some photos from the event. (Click on each to see a larger version.)
Brent Sopel and The Stanley Cup
Chicago Cubs and Hall of Famer, Ernie Banks