CHICAGO – Like millions of others in this happy, sun-soaked city, Ramona Achim looked forward to going downtown Friday and being part of something great.
“We had to come here,” said Achim, a tourist from Romania. “We wanted to come here.”
How could you blame her? All of the stars were on display.
Picasso. Van Gogh. Monet. Renoir. Degas. Just to name a few.
Wait, you thought she was talking about the Blackhawks parade?
Not so much.
As millions of delirious Hawks fans lined parade routes, marched through downtown streets and packed Grant Park for a raucous celebration of the team’s Stanley Cup championship, a small group of people stuck to their daily routines.
Except nothing was routine about Friday.
Confetti fell from windows high above Washington Street. Joyous fans clapped and screamed and snapped pictures as Hawks players waved from the tops of trolleys. Victory noise was everywhere. Air horns, sirens, “Chelsea Dagger,” you name it.
A few doors from the parade route, Chicago resident Laura Wakeland tried to focus on her job at Harlan J. Berk Rare Coins. Friendly and funny, she admitted to not being able to name a Hawks player and not watching a game during the playoffs.
“I have no idea what a Stanley Cup is,” Wakeland said, “but good for them.”
And good for Wakeland for navigating the massive crowds to make it to work.
“When I was walking down here from the train, I had to fight people just to get to work,” Wakeland said with a grin. “And I was just like, ‘People, let me get to work already! You have all day to party.’ ”
Oh, they knew.
It’s just that some people had tasks to complete that did not involve high-fiving anyone wearing red.
Take Mark Dalton, a 57-year-old from Glendale Heights who works at Burnham Nationwide across from City Hall. His brother, John, lives in Woodstock.
As for Dalton’s clients? Well, they live all over the place.
“You’ve still got to do the work,” said Dalton, who’s not much of a hockey fan but did watch the final series. “The people in the other states that we’re working for, they’re not involved in this. They don’t feel the vibe. You know what I’m saying?”
I know what you’re saying.
Back in 2010, Dalton learned to stay put during the morning of a Hawks parade. Several of his colleagues did not heed his advice this time around as they crossed the street to do business at City Hall.
“They went over to do some early work this morning, and now they’re stranded over there,” Dalton said. “That happened to me the last time, so I knew.
“I told them, ‘You’re going to get stranded.’ And they went anyway.”
And they got stranded.
Matt Heinlich almost got stranded, but he relied on underground passage to get from the Richard J. Daley Center to his law office at 30 North LaSalle. Hours earlier, his train ride on the way to work was unlike any other in his professional life.
Heinlich wore a suit and tie. No, his suit jacket did not have “Toews – 19” stitched on the back.
“I was sticking out like a sore thumb,” said Heinlich, 29, of Geneva.
But Heinlich is a Hawks fan, so he understood. He planned to sneak a peek from his bosses’ corner office as players paraded down Washington 21 floors below.
Dalton understood, too: “It’s good to see a team from Chicago do something.”
Achim also embraced the craziness going past the front steps of the Art Institute.
She’s from Cluj-Napoca. Have you heard of it? It’s in the center of Transylvania.
“We like sports,” Achim said. “It’s not that we don’t like sports.
“But it’s crazy how people celebrate the victory. We celebrate it, too, but not like this: The whole city. Everyone dressed up.
“We usually celebrate after the game – one hour, or two, or the whole night. It depends how important the victory is.”
This victory was pretty important.
Even Wakeland realized that, even if the parade left her with more questions than answers.
“It made me wonder, how many of these people are supposed to be at work?” Wakeland said. “Is this like the 1-point-whatever million that are unemployed? I don’t know. I don’t know who these people are.
“At the same time, I think we all deserve a break and we all deserve a little fun. I’m sure if there are drinks later on, I’ll partake.”
Cheers to that.
• Northwest Herald sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @tcmusick.