Hockey has as strong a heartbeat in Chicago as anywhere the game is played. It’s never in doubt that the Chicago Blackhawks annual fan fest will draw 10, 000 fans to its celebration every summer. And those fans come from everywhere….from Ohio and Wisconsin and small town Ontario.
We were here last year when the Stanley Cup and the players on that winning team were in the house. The house being the Chicago Hilton turned Blackhawks Central. The sales of our book for these fans as well as our NHL Mascots & Friends book were crazy! It was an easy decision to return. That, plus all the fun we had with generations of fans of the team with arguably the best jerseys in the league, and always a great shot at the Cup. This year, even without the Cup, they came. No kidding!
The players, coaches, Tommy Hawk were all here. So, too, famous Blackhawks from years, even decades ago. And new players, too:
They lined up for them all.
And we met the youngest fans in the house! The ones who were well on their way to becoming fans for life:
I made my way through the crowd to get a sandwich and stood watching a news channel while lunch was being made. A voice behind me said, “So Donald Trump’s announced his choice of his running mate.”
“Yes, I replied. I’m from Canada. I guess I shouldn’t really comment but we’re watching all of this with interest.”
“Do you know who I am?” the elderly gentleman asks after he orders his coffee. (I notice there will be no charge for coffee for him.)
“No.” is the only reply I can give.
“ I’m Pierre Pilote,” he says.
I tell him I know who he is by his name, the Blackhawks famous defenseman. Also that I’ve talked to many folks that day who’ve stopped to buy my children’s book, The HOME Team Chicago Blackhawks, and mentioned how excited they were to have just secured an autograph from Pierre Pilote. He tells me how much he enjoys signing them and chatting with all of the fans, too.
( Here’s his name in the program, among the who’s who of Hawks history, right where it belongs.)
“You should buy my book!” he says.
“You should buy mine, too!” I say. We both laugh. Then he turns away as the woman beside me exclaims, “You’re Pierre Pilote!”
I may not have recognized the great Blackhawk from the past but it’s as sure a bet as I’ve ever made, that won’t happen to Pierre Pilote, not here on this day, again!