CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Windy City was abuzz Friday ahead of the Chicago Cubs’ first World Series home game in 71 years and nowhere more than in the neighborhood around iconic Wrigley Field where media helicopters hovered well before dawn.
Up to four helicopters at a time hovered over the stadium all day Friday, the wup-wup-wup of their rotor blades waking Raymond Peternell providing a constant, physical reminder that something big was on its way.
Peternell, 71, and his partner of 47 years Francis DiLorenzo, 73, have been glued to their television throughout the Chicago Cubs’ postseason run after decades of disappointment and nervously watched the lowering sky on Friday morning, afraid it might rain.
The Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908.
“I just want the Cubs to keep winning,” Peternell said. “Over a hundred years is far too long.”
The World Series between the Cubs and Cleveland Indians was tied 1-1 after two games in Cleveland and with the best-of-seven series switching to Chicago for three games, the Cubs have been seen having a slight edge.
From Wrigleyville to the Chicago suburbs, fans marveled at the enormity of the occasion.
“This is a chance to watch history,” said Steve Newman, 55, a semi-retired human resources manager who lives in the western suburbs and would watch the game on television.
Crowds gathered outside venerable Wrigley hours before the game started Friday night, with children and adults alike breathlessly hoping to catch balls on Waveland Avenue as players practiced hitting inside.
A number of bars in the area were charging hundreds of dollars entry fee Friday for the chance to drink close to the “Friendly Confines” of Wrigley while standing room tickets inside the stadium could be had for more than $2,000.
“I can’t afford to get in to the game tonight, but this is a once in a lifetime experience,” said Jason Powell, 33, who planned to watch the game at Murphy‘s, a hugely popular Wrigleyville bar that decided against a cover charge. “Just to be close to the stadium is enough.”
A few blocks away Conner Hess, 23, stood with a sign that read “Will Pay $$$ For 1 Ticket.” He wouldn’t say how much he was willing to pay, but it was a lot more than he could afford.
“I brought all my money and borrowed some from friends,” he said. “I can’t afford to miss this. If it takes the Cubs another 71 years to get back into the World Series, I’ll most likely be dead.”
Editing by Steve Keating.