Chicago Celebrates Jackie Robinson West - NBC Chicago

Chicago Celebrates Jackie Robinson West

Thousands turned out for Jackie Robinson West's celebration rally and parade



    Jackie Robinson West players take the stage at a Millennium Park rally following their Chicago parade. (Published Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014)

    If it wasn't already abundantly clear before Wednesday, Chicago loves the Jackie Robinson West All-Stars.

    Thousands of fans turned out for a morning full of festivities to celebrate the Little League World Series team's U.S. championship run, from a rally at Jackie Robinson Park to a parade through downtown and a ticker-tape finale at Millennium Park.

    The team was greeted by a series of celebrity guests throughout the ceremony. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn arrived early to congratulate them on the team's home field, and during the players' trolley tour, the White Sox lent JRW their 2005 World Series trophy to carry into Millennium Park.

    Sox and Cubs executives Kenny Williams and Theo Epstein joined them at Millennium Park, and each of the players was introduced by White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson.

    Chance the Rapper revved up the crowd, and a beaming team of JRW players waved to a crowd of yellow championship shirts.

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    Though the All-Stars lost 8-4 Sunday to South Korea in the World Series game, they remain U.S. champions after powering past Las Vegas in Saturday's big win.

    The teammates and coaches returned home Monday, welcomed by cheering family members, friends and fans, after being on the road since July 31.

    The players had no idea they would be treated like rock stars, and slowly seem to be coming to the realization that they've reached celebrity status.

    "I had saw myself on TV a couple of times, so you know I'm pretty famous," enigmatic center fielder DJ Butler said.

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    8/27/2014: NBC 5's LeeAnn Trotter tracks the Jackie Robinson West team celebration from the rally on the South Side to the festivities at Millenium Park.
    (Published Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014)
    They're also starting to realize the positive affect a team of all-black players can have, particularly from a section of Chicago that's a developed a violent reputation on the national stage.

    "We're African-American boys from the South Side. For so many people, the South Side is only about bad things. Something good can come from the South Side of Chicago, period," player Marquis Jackson said.

    It's something White Sox VP Kenny Williams referenced in his speech at the Millenium Park rally.

    "Pick up a ball, or a glove, a book, a paint stick, a science project, something, put down the guns," Williams said.

    A big role to be sure for a group of boys who aren't even teenagers yet. But for know, they're content to be kids -- kids who hope to score a trip to Disneyland, and spent the rest of their day eating pizza and playing on a bouncy house.

    "It was amazing how all the people of Chicago supported us," player Trey Hondras said.

    Check out the full recap of Wednesday's celebration below.

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