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Families score at victory parade

Fans line Columbus Drive during Chicago Blackhawks Parade HutchinsField Grant Park Friday June 28 2013. | JessicKoscielniak ~ Sun-Times

Fans line Columbus Drive during the Chicago Blackhawks Parade to Hutchinson Field in Grant Park, Friday June 28, 2013. | Jessica Koscielniak ~ Sun-Times

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Updated: August 2, 2013 6:38AM

Patrick Kane is a big guy. Yet his father, John, was able to hoist him on his shoulders with ease, where he crouched, phone at the ready, as the Blackhawks victory parade approached the corner of Washington and Wells on Friday morning.

No, not that Patrick Kane.

This one, 11, a spray of freckles across his nose, a Blackhawks fan hailing from Elk Grove Village, was one of a children’s crusade worth of youngsters — boys and girls, infants to teens — who came from all over with their parents to venture into downtown Chicago to cheer their heroes.

“It was pretty cool,” decreed Sebastian Monterroso, 11, of Chicago, who watched the parade with his sister, Olivia, accompanied by their mother. He had attended in 2010, but found this parade — this entire season — to be cooler because he “paid more attention to it.” His sister declared the parade “fun” because she got to see her favorite player, Jonathan Toews.

During the long commute from far-flung suburbs — from Kewanee and Wheaton and Palatine — kids wove scenarios where they come face-to-face with their heroes: maybe at the United Center after the rally, maybe the players will all be hanging out there. Maybe we should walk on over. Can we, dad?

Parents whose children were absent had them in mind. Thirty seconds after Tim and Carol Moore from Michigan City met someone new, they were talking, not of the Blackhawks or the Stanley Cup, but of Senior Airman Michael Moore, U.S. Air Force, whose commitment to Uncle Sam keeps him on an airbase in New Mexico as he prepares to deploy to South Korea.

“It kills him not to be here,” said his mother.

The players blew by on buses — too fast in the opinion of many — and to be honest, not being a tremendous fan, that was the least part of the experience. But seeing all those families — all those dads taking the day off work, all those red-clad moms, all those gangly kids in oversized jerseys, navigating the unfamiliar city streets. It left a lump in my throat, and made me realize that the Blackhawks brought more than the Stanley Cup to Chicago. They created a million warm memories, so that half a century from now, children grown old will smile at the mention of 2013, remembering only one thing from that championship year: how their dad took the day off work, how he brought them downtown on the train, how they sat on his broad shoulders and watched the parade.

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