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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Blackhawks invited to Pride Parade
by Ross Forman
2010-06-16

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After 49 years since the Chicago Blackhawks last won the Stanley Cup, one victory parade just isn't enough for the 2010 Stanley Cup champions, according to members of the Chicago Gay Hockey Association ( CGHA ) .

How about a second, the CGHA said in a congratulatory letter sent to the Blackhawks—specifically, the annual Chicago Gay Pride Parade.

Windy City Times has learned exclusively that the CGHA has formally invited the Blackhawks, its coaching staff, broadcasters, the front-office staff and even the Stanley Cup itself to join the CGHA Sunday, June 27, at the Pride Parade through Lakeview, which annually is one of the best-attended parades in Chicago with about 450,000 attendees. CGHA members traditionally rollerblade or walk the route, with sticks and hockey balls.

CGHA President Andrew Sobotka said the team has yet to receive a reply from the Blackhawks.

"We're optimistic, but we know the realistic chances of, say, Patrick Sharp or Jonathon Toews joining us for the Pride Parade are slim. But who knows," Sobotka said. "The CGHA really wanted to let the Blackhawks know who we are, and what our mission is. There are gay hockey players and fans, and we wanted to make sure they know that.

"On the night of the 'Hawks Stanley Cup win, Clark Street [ in Lakeview ] was full of people celebrating, while a few blocks over, Halsted [ Street ] was almost like a ghost town. The CGHA realized that there are plenty of opportunities for the Hawks to increase their presence in the gay community by being more inclusive.

"Our goal of having some of the players and other members of the organization skate alongside of us in the Pride Parade, was to really let the Blackhawks know that there is a strong interest in hockey within the gay community."

The CGHA plays in a straight league in Northbrook, and its team is known as the Chicago Blackwolves. Lakeview resident Chuck Jacobson founded the CGHA in 2002, and Jacobson is among many CGHA members who watched all 22 Blackhawk playoff games this season.

"The Pride Parade is nothing close to the championship parade, but it is a parade to celebrate diversity and acceptance of the LGBT community. We would be honored to have the Hawks organization show their support by being there," said the CGHA's Tony Tiet.

The CGHA sent a congratulatory letter to the Blackhawks after the team won the Cup. It said: "On behalf of the Chicago Gay Hockey Association and the Chicago Blackwolves, it is with most distinguished honor that we extend to you our congratulations in winning the Stanley Cup this past Wednesday in Philadelphia We are proud to skate in a city where your reputation resonates, one that we hold in highest regard. As longtime promoters of the Blackhawks, we see your players, coaches, staff and fans as a source of inspiration to our team for your unconditional dedication, sportsmanship and love for the game.

"The CGHA strives to promote hockey within the LGBT and supporting communities by giving Chicagoland a non-discriminatory and enjoyable environment to play and learn more about the sport. We continuously aim to develop further appreciation and support of the game by raising awareness and bringing hockey into people's lives. With your help, we can gain further support for the Chicago Blackhawks and CGHA within the Chicago and LGBT communities."

The Pride Parade is not simply an LGBT event, many CGHA players stressed. Consider all of the politicians and members of the media, radio and TV personalities, who march in the event, they said.

So why not Blackhawks, too?

And the Stanley Cup.


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