Chanting "Woof! Woof!", an estimated 500,000 fans jammed downtown Chicago for a ticker-tape parade in arctic weather today to honor their Super Bowl champion Bears.
As downtown skies filled with tons of confetti dumped from financial district office buildings, a caravan of team buses inched through crowds of fans who had waited for up to three hours.
The Bears defeated the New England Patriots on Sunday in Super Bowl XX by 46-10, a record-breaking score. It was Chicago's first football championship since 1963, and the city showed its appreciation despite temperatures near zero and blasts of winter wind that produced a wind-chill factor of 28 degrees below zero.
It was one of the biggest, noisiest, coldest celebrations in city history, clogging traffic with jubilant throngs waving banners, swilling beer and bundling against the frigid wind.
People climbed into trees along the sidewalks, shinnied up light poles and hoisted themselves into the breeziest perch of all -- the famous Picasso sculpture in the city's center that for the past two weeks has been decorated with a giant "Go Bears!" headband.
Mayor Harold Washington capped the ceremony at Daley Plaza across from City Hall by announcing a portion of Lake Shore Drive, the scenic, high-speed ribbon that carries traffic along the city's Lake Michigan shore front, will be named after the team's founder, the late George Halas.
Today, the Sears Tower, the world's tallest building at 110 stories, became the Bears Tower. And Daley Plaza, named after the late Richard J. Daley, the iron-fisted mayor who ran the city unchallenged for 21 years, has been renamed Bears Plaza.
"They're all getting nuts," said a weary, chilled policeman as he stood guard at the plaza today.
Mounted police, foot patrolmen and patrol cars with flashing lights cleared a slow path down Washington Street as the caravan of buses carrying much of the team rolled into the city from O'Hare Airport.
Amid bursts of firecrackers, cheers, bellowing trumpets and general carrying-on, the city waited. When the buses finally penetrated the LaSalle financial hub, team members climbed out of roof hatches atop the buses to wave and cheer the crowds.
Some of the players, including McMahon, Walter Payton, and Super Bowl MVP Richard Dent, were not with the team. They were headed to Hawaii and the Pro Bowl. But when team owner Mike McCaskey proclaimed Mike Ditka the best coach in the world, the city roared back its approval.
By the time it was all over, eight people had been arrested for disorderly conduct and 40 were treated for exposure. But those facts will be lost for good fairly soon, as Chicago warms itself throughout the winter with memories of its hot Bears on a very cold day.