Cubs players wave, take in scene as victory parade begins

Chicago Cubs fans celebrate before a rally in Grant Park honoring the World Series baseball champions Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Chicago Cubs fans celebrate before a rally in Grant Park honoring the World Series baseball champions Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Cubs players enjoyed their victory lap on Friday, waving to tens of thousands of elated fans crowded along miles of city streets during a parade honoring the first Cubs team to win a World Series title in 108 years.

Crowds near Wrigley Field were several people and congratulatory-signs deep as Cubs players, clad in their jerseys, left the historic ballpark atop open-roofed buses. The players are on their way to the city’s sprawling Grant Park, where troves of fans decked out in Cubs jerseys, caps and T-shirts stood shoulder-to-shoulder waiting for players to arrive for a rally.

Some players posed together for photographs, while others held their children and sat with their families on the double-decker buses. Center fielder Dexter Fowler had a cigar as the team headed toward a rally that some fans have called the “celebration of a century.”

Fans packed morning commuter trains, causing delays despite increased service and capacity, to get downtown and find a viewing spot before the festivities began.

Laurie Winter woke up at 4 a.m. so she and her 2-year-old son, Cooper, could come in from the suburb of South Elgin and be among the fans outside Wrigley Field to see the players.

“I think everyone is excited about where this team is going,” Winter said. “We can’t wait to see them come out and get crazy.”

The parade will wind through downtown and end roughly 7 miles south in Grant Park, where a rally is expected to start around noon. The city also dyed the Chicago River a bright shade of blue to match the Cubs’ colors, repurposing a decades-long tradition of dying the river green on St. Patrick’s Day.

A victory party is new territory for long-suffering fans of the Cubs, who hadn’t won a World Series title in 108 years before their Game 7, extra-inning thriller in Cleveland on Wednesday night. The last time the Cubs even reached the Fall Classic was in 1945.

Steve Angelo carried his 4-year-old son, Nicholas, on his shoulders. The pair wore matching jerseys for first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

“The more and more they win now, at his earlier age, the more and more excitement there is,” Angelo said.

It’s unclear how many people will attend Friday’s parade and rally. The city estimates that 2 million people attended similar events in 2015, after the Chicago Blackhawks won their third Stanley Cup in six years — but generations of Cubs fans have far more pent-up celebrating to do.

Friday was already a scheduled day off for Chicago Public Schools and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner declared Friday as “World Champion Chicago Cubs Day” statewide.

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