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Blackhawks parade to step off at 10:30 a.m. Friday

By David Heinzmann

Tribune reporter

5:55 PM EDT, June 26, 2013

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The Chicago Blackhawks will parade down Washington Street through downtown Chicago beginning at 10:30 a.m. Friday on their way from their United Center home to Grant Park for the Stanley Cup victory rally.

The team will take double-decker buses from the United Center to Desplaines Street and Washington, where the parade will begin, and then head east on Washington toward Grant Park via Michigan and Randolph, to Columbus Drive. Fans will also be able to line the route south of Monroe Drive on Columbus to Balbo Drive, where the team will join the rally.

Revelers will be able to enter the park at Jackson and Michigan or at Congress and Michigan for the 11 a.m. rally at Hutchinson Field, at the south end of Grant Park.

Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy warned revelers not to go north of Washington Street during the celebration. He also said police will arrest people who try to cross over barricades.

Hutchinson Field, where the Lollapalooza festival is held each year, and the election night rally for Barack Obama was held in 2008 is considered by experts to be safer and easier for crowd control than the 2010 championship party on Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive.

If 2010 is any indication, the festivities are likely to clog traffic and public transportation. The city estimated as many as 2 million people attended that celebration.

City officials warned fans not to bring alcohol and said any backpacks would be searched, slowing down everyone's entrance to the rally. There will be "zero tolerance for alcohol" at the parade and rally, McCarthy said.

McCarthy said the security effort will include four-foot-high fencing to control crowds, plainclothes officers and bomb-sniffing dogs “as a precaution” along the parade route, much like what was done during the NATO conference in May 2012. The officers will also be looking for suspicious activity, with the lessons of the Boston Marathon bombing in mind, McCarthy said.

“Where appropriate we’re going to be searching bags,” McCarthy said, adding that those who don’t want to comply will be told to leave.

McCarthy note that authorities are also preparing to handle many thousands of revelers at Sunday’s Gay Pride parade.

“It’s going to be a very challenging weekend,” McCarthy said, adding that “we’ve done this before” and he’s confident the police force will handle both events well.

“This particular event we’ve been planning for for weeks,” McCarthy said of the Blackhawks’ celebration. “We planned like it was going to happen…and as a result, we’re ready to go.”

City officials cautioned commuters and fans to expect detours and delays beginning the night before the Blackhawks rally.

The city will close streets in the parade area beginning at 12:01 a.m. Friday. They will include all streets between Roosevelt on the south, Randolph on the north, Lake Shore Drive on the east and Michigan Avenue on the west.

CTA officials said there will be more frequent rail service and longer trains. There will also be bus detours because of the rally and street closures.

Weather forecasts call for temperatures in the low 80s and a chance of showers Friday.

dheinzmann@tribune.com

Twitter: @DavidHeinzmann