Chicago will be one heck of a busy place this weekend. Be advised.
"Just expect a lot of people," Chicago Office of Special Events spokeswoman Mary May said in advance of a triple-threat event weekend.
The traffic nightmare begins with a celebratory parade for the Chicago Blackhawks. The ticker-tape festival begins at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Washington Avenue and Wacker Drive and will proceed east on Washington to Michigan Avenue, then Michigan to Wacker. A subsequent championship rally emceed by Eddy Olczyk, the lead game analyst for NHL on NBC, will be held at 11:30 a.m. at Michigan and Wacker.
More than 350,000 people are expected to attend the parade and rally.
"There really is no bad place to see these players," said Megan McDonald, the Executive Director of the Mayor's Office of Special Events. "They're going to be on double-decker buses, so no matter where you are, no matter where you're standing, no matter where you are along the parade route, you will be able to see the entire team, their tremendous front office staff and everybody that's been part of such a great season."
Twenty-thousand pounds of ticker tape will be thrown about along Washington Street and confetti canons will be placed along Michigan Avenue.
"We have the Chicago Sun-Times donating the overruns of the newspaper.. the city will use confetti canons to blow them for the parade, the ticker tape parade, and then all that material will be cleaned up and re-recycled," said Secure Eco Shred's Kristina Kalapos.
Anyone heading downtown is urged to ditch the car and use public transit, but even then -- plan ahead. The Chicago Transit Authority is rerouting 32 bus routes on Friday.
Mayor Richard Daley said sponsors, not taxpayers, are footing the bill for the Blackhawks-related festivities.
But that’s not the only thing going on this weekend. The annual Cross-town Classic between the Cubs and the Sox starts at Wrigley Field at 1:20 p.m. Friday. The annual deluge of traffic follows.
There's also the Blues.
The three-day Chicago Blues Festival is taking place in Grant Park 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Friday until Sunday.
With all of the hubbub going on, what can commuters expect?
A representative from Chicago Transit Authority said they wouldn’t know of specific closings until early Friday morning, but to expect delays.
In short, expect traffic, delays and detours and allow plenty of time for transportation.
Let the madness begin.