Chicago celebrates the Sky’s first WNBA championship title

With celebrities and public officials in tow, celebrations kicked off Tuesday with a parade at Wintrust Arena and ended with a rally at Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.

Chicago Sky rally
Chicago Sky players celebrate their WNBA championship win at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park on Oct. 19, 2021. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
Chicago Sky rally
Chicago Sky players celebrate their WNBA championship win at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park on Oct. 19, 2021. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

Chicago celebrates the Sky’s first WNBA championship title

With celebrities and public officials in tow, celebrations kicked off Tuesday with a parade at Wintrust Arena and ended with a rally at Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.

When the Chicago Sky clinched the WNBA championship title Sunday night — the city’s first basketball title in 20 years — Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced celebrations would soon follow. Two days later, thousands of fans joined the mayor downtown to cheer for Chicago’s reigning champs.

The festivities kicked off Tuesday at 11 a.m. with a parade beginning at Wintrust Arena and ended with a noon rally at Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. The events were free and open to the public, and despite it being a weekday, the pavilion was packed.

Chicago Sky rally crowd
Thousands of Chicagoans danced and chanted in the outdoor Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park Tuesday to celebrate the Chicago Sky’s WNBA championship win. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

“For fans that jumped on the bandwagon last minute, that’s alright, we invite you,” Lightfoot joked. “Just make sure to sign up for season tickets next season!”

The Sky beat the Phoenix Mercury 80-74 at Wintrust Arena Sunday night, making them the first Chicago team to win a championship title at home since the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2015.

Illinois elected officials Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Lightfoot were all in attendance at Tuesday’s rally, sitting side-by-side with the Sky’s front office and players. They were joined by Chicago artist Chance the Rapper, who swapped his emblematic “3” hat for Sky player Diamond DeShields’ WNBA Champions hat.

Pritzker and Stratton
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton cheer for Chicago Sky players as they walk on stage at Tuesday’s rally in Millennium Park. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

Excitement and pride were palpable throughout the crowd — and on stage — a reminder of the unifying power sports held in pre-pandemic days. For Chicago natives like 23-year-old Azariah Hill, the Sky’s win felt like “God’s blessing.”

“It’s impactful to be a part of,” he said.

James Wade, the Sky’s head coach, said that equally as impressive as his players’ athletic abilities is their integrity. “If you saw them off the floor as much as you see them on it, you’d be so proud of how they represent this great city.”

More photos from the celebrations:

Chicago Sky Bus
Chicago Sky players, families and public officials rode buses through the Loop as part of a celebratory parade from Wintrust Arena to Millennium Park. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
Young girl and woman at Sky rally
Thousands of Chicagoans, including kids of all ages, attended Tuesday’s rally. Some high school girls’ basketball teams were even excused from school to be there. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
Young girl with balloon
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at the rally that the Sky’s win and the team’s players were a positive example for young girls, and boys, to look up to. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
Chance the Rapper at Chicago Sky Rally
Chance the Rapper, who was also spotted at the WBNA finals games in Chicago, joins the Sky on stage in Pritzker Pavilion to celebrate their win. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
Candace Parker and trophy
Chicago native Candace Parker and Stefanie Dolson were in good spirits while holding their championship trophy on stage at the rally Tuesday. Parker left the Los Angeles Sparks last year to return home to Chicago. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
Confetti at Chicago Sky Rally
Chicago Sky player Astou Ndour-Fall throws confetti in the air on stage at Chicago’s rally for the WNBA champs. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
Chicago Sky Co-Owner Harvey Alter
Chicago Sky co-owner Harvey Alter raises a triumphant fist in the air on stage at the rally Tuesday in Millennium Park. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
Chicago Sky crowd
Thousands of Chicago Sky fans danced, chanted and cheered at Tuesday’s rally in Millennium Park. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

Madison Muller is a part-time digital producer for WBEZ. Follow her @g0ingmad.

Manuel Martinez is a visual journalist at WBEZ. Follow him @DenverManuel.

Michael Puente covers Chicago and Northwest Indiana for WBEZ. Follow him @MikePuenteNews.