As the city gears for the insanity that will be a day full of celebrations for the Chicago Blackhawk’s 2015 Stanley Cup Championship Thursday, it’s time to let your boss know you won’t be in for work and get your travel arrangements squared away.
The party starts at 10 a.m. as the parade launches at at West Washington Boulevard and North Racine Avenue and travel east to North DesPlaines Street before turning south to West Monroe Street. From Monroe, the parade will travel east to South Michigan Avenue.
Double-decker buses will carry the team, front office personnel and the sparkly Stanley Cup. Along the route will be the most popular place to view the parade - and the best seat in the house - so set your alarm early to head downtown.
"The City of Chicago is so proud of the Blackhawks, which is why we are going to throw them a celebration that only Chicago can throw – and a celebration worthy of a hockey dynasty," Mayor Emanuel said in a statement Wednesday morning.
At 11 a.m., the team is expected to arrive at Soldier Field for the rally. Soldier Field gates will open to those holding their free advance tickets starting at 8 a.m.
The mantra for getting around city for the day is just leave and get there early: Really, really early. Streets along the route and in the Loop will be shut down by 9 a.m. and access to most parking garages could be restricted, full, or super expensive.
Here are your options for getting around, and how services will be different for the special day:
Metra’s Special One-Day-Only $5 Unlimited Ride Ticket
Metra will be adding “as many trains as possible” Thursday and will offer a special, one-day only $5 unlimited ride ticket for Blackhawks.
The special ticket will be available beginning Wednesday from all ticket agents (but not from ticket vending machines.) It can be combined with Metra's "Family Fares" program, which allowed three children age 11 or younger to ride free with each adult fare.
If taking the Metra Thursday, take note:
• Bikes and alcohol will be banned from all trains Thursday.
• Quiet Car rules will be suspended during both rush hours.
• Metra carried 425,000 passengers for the Hawks rally in 2013, so as all things go for Thursday, expect the trains to be packed full and try to arrive early in case there are delays.
• Many trains will leave earlier than their scheduled departure once they reach capacity.
• Limit the number and size of carry-on items you are bringing with you, as there most likely will not be much room on the cars.
Details about extra service and schedule changes on each line are available here. Schedules are subject to change so be sure to double-check the website before travel.
CTA Trains and Buses
The Chicago Transit Authority will also offer additional train and bus service Thursday.
For Loop-bound commuters, it’s best to hop on one of their rail services instead of a bus as multiple CTA bus routes will be detoured in the downtown area as a result of street closures for the set-up, take-down and duration of the parade and rally.
CTA’s Red and Blue subway lines and Brown, Purple, Green, Pink and Orange elevated lines are the best option for Blackhawks fans heading downtown for the parade and rally.
CTA also advises riders to load up their transit passes in advance to avoid long lines at the stations and decrease travel time.
If taking the CTA Thursday, take note:
• Strollers and carts must be folded before you are allowed to board buses and trains Thursday.
• Bicycles will not be allowed on 'L' trains. (They will, however, continue to be allowed on buses, using the racks on the front of the bus.)
For more information, visit transitchicago.com.
Drive (But You Really Shouldn't Try This, Seriously)
With an expected minimum of 2 million people heading to the parade and rally, trying to drive and park downtown is not advised. Most parking lots will fill up early and have hiked up rates.
Monroe Street will be closed from Halsted to Lake Shore Drive beginning at 8 a.m. The Loop will be cluttered with street closures, traffic congestion and reroutes all day Thursday. Additional streets will be shut down as necessary due to crowd size to ensure the public safety of pedestrians and parade attendees.
But if you still want to give it a go, Soldier Field’s special event parking lots will open at 5 a.m. and if you can get a spot, will cost $20.