CHICAGO -- If there was a downside to the Cubs' first World Series championship since 1908, it's that they won it on the road, beating the Indians on Wednesday night in Game 7 in Cleveland. Today, the players, manager Joe Maddon and staff will be saluted by their fans in a parade that many Cubs fans probably never thought they'd live to see.
Given the 108-year wait by the Chicago faithful, it is a day that will be emotional, poignant and joyous, filled with thoughts of Ernie Banks, Harry Caray and Ron Santo, with echoes of "Go Cubs Go" at nearly every turn.
MLB Network's parade coverage is live, simulcast on MLB.com, with a special edition of MLB Tonight that features two live locations at Wrigley Field with hosts Heidi Watney, Jon Paul Morosi and Lauren Shehadi. The coverage continues until the parade culminates with a rally at Chicago's Grant Park.
Given the excitement surrounding the Cubs winning their first World Series title since 1908 -- and Chicago's history of celebrating its champions -- turnout for the parade will almost certainly be massive. The forecast calls for mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 50s, Chicago public schools were already scheduled to be closed, and city officials were expected to dye the Chicago River blue in the Cubs' honor. When the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2015, the city estimated that there were 2 million people in attendance -- and that was the Blackhawks' third Cup in five years.
"We're going to have a parade in Chicago that will stand the test of time," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.
Actor and longtime Cubs fan Bill Murray was eagerly anticipating it just moments after the Cubs' 8-7 win in 10 innings over the Indians on Wednesday.
"I just can't wait until the parade starts," he told MLB.com columnist Jon Paul Morosi on MLB Network.
The official procession will travel along Michigan Avenue between Oak and Ohio, and then along Columbus between Monroe and Balbo. Fans who want to catch the downtown parade are encouraged to see the Cubs along this route.
There will be three other locations to view the parade: Addison from Sheffield to Pine Grove; North Michigan from Oak to Ohio; and Columbus from Monroe to Balbo.
The rally will be held at lower Hutchinson Field in Grant Park, where Barack Obama celebrated his victory in the 2008 presidential election. The rally is free and open to the public. All fans must pass through security screening at entrances at Michigan and Jackson, or at Michigan and Congress.
Chicago has feted its other pro sports teams after their championship runs, including the White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks. However, none of those teams had to wait 100-plus years.
"Unreal," said Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, who was soaked in champagne after celebrating with the Cubs following Game 7 at Progressive Field. "It's a big relief. The game was very tense and stressful. But for baseball, what a World Series, what a Game 7. I don't remember a better one, I really don't.
This Cubs team resonated with the fans, many of whom flocked to Wrigley Field on a sunny Thursday to grab some chalk and jot down thank-you notes, honor family members or simply write their names on the brick walls along Sheffield and Waveland Avenues. One fan offered use of a ladder in exchange for a high five.
People posed in front of the Harry Caray statue at the corner of Sheffield and Waveland behind the center-field bleachers. There were green apples, red carnations and a few cans of beer placed there. Caray, the longtime Cubs broadcaster, once said, "Sure as God made green apples, someday, the Chicago Cubs are going to be in the World Series, and maybe sooner than we think." Fans left bushels of the fruit at Caray's gravesite in Chicago.
"I know Harry is smiling, I know Ernie Banks is smiling, Ron Santo -- every former Cubs player who passed away," former Cubs shortstop Shawon Dunston said. "I really wish they could have experienced it."
A day after Game 7, Dunston was still pinching himself.
"I'm kind of numb," Dunston said. "Like, 'Wow, the Cubs really won?' I think I'm more happy for the fans. They always came out to the games and rooted for us when we were in last place. They wanted the Cubs to win so badly. ... Those are really good, loyal fans who go back through years and years."
Many made the five-hour drive from Chicago to Cleveland for the game, and every rest stop on the Ohio Turnpike and Indiana Toll Road was packed with people in Cubs T-shirts and hats as they made their way home on Interstate 90 after Game 7.
"I'm just so happy for Cub fans over the last 108 years, generations, some still here, some not," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "They were all here tonight. Everybody who ever put on a Cubs uniform, this is for you."
The Cubs did so in dramatic fashion. This was the first time the Cubs were able to rally from a 3-1 deficit in any best-of-seven series.
"I told my wife, when you ask, 'Who won the World Series five years ago?' you have to really think about it," former Cub Juan Pierre said. "I think this one is going to stick. People will know the Cubs won it in 2016."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.