Bill Murray cried for joy. Fans dangled out of car windows and high-fived strangers. Endless renditions of "Go Cubs Go" rang out into the night.
After waiting 108 years, Chicago erupted in noisy and euphoric celebration early Thursday following the Cubs' historic win in the World Series baseball championship over the Cleveland Indians.
A night of celebration
Thousands gathered in the streets outside the Cubs' home stadium Wrigley Field. They were somber as the game being played in Cleveland was tied, then ebullient as the city's beloved baseball team won a much longed-for victory.
"People have been waiting for this for a long time," said Stephen Hill, 64, owner of Brendan's Pub -- a sports bar which filled to capacity with fans glued to the tense game that ended with an 8-7 Cubs win in 10 innings.
Jubilant fans poured into the streets, jumping, crying and singing the fan anthem "Go Cubs Go."
Car horns blared for hours. Some revelers climbed light poles and television news vans, causing damage, but celebrations were mostly peaceful and authorities did not report any major incidents.
The curse of the billy goat
The Cubs hadn't appeared in Major League Baseball's World Series since 1945 and last won the championship in 1908 -- when Theodore Roosevelt was president.
Local lore blamed the Cubs' losing streak on the "Curse of the Billy Goat," allegedly placed on the team by a vexed Billy Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, after being thrown out of a game in 1945 due to a foul-smelling pet goat.
The wait ever since has been agonizing for generations of Chicagoans, who stayed loyal even as the team lost more than it won.
Some wholeheartedly believed in the curse, while others accused successive team owners of underinvesting in the franchise -- knowing that diehard fans would still fill the stands.
"The curse is dead," said 53-year-old fan Joe Biancalana. "It's a long time coming."
Solace for a struggling city
For Chicago, the Cubs' journey to the World Series has been a welcome respite from a dark year. The city is struggling with gun violence and a spike in its murder rate. More than 630 people have been killed so far this year -- a level not seen in more than a decade.
"The World Series, it brings people together," said fan Tim O'Halloran, 27.
"It's something that everyone can rally behind... which is something we need right now," he said. "It's been kind of a rough year."
Notable Chicagoans have been caught up in the excitement.
Actor Murray captured the mood of the entire city, crying on the field after the win, then later dousing Cubs baseball operations president Theo Epstein with champagne.
Hillary Clinton is a Cubs fan
Even presidential candidate Hillary Clinton -- a Chicagoan and a Cubs fan -- paused on the campaign trail Wednesday to root for her home team.
The Democrat watched the final minutes of the game on an iPad following a rally at Arizona State University, her campaign said. After the final out, she and an aide held up a blue and white "W" flag that signals a Cubs victory.
President Barack Obama, who is also a Chicagoan but a supporter of the city's rival South side baseball team the White Sox, nevertheless offered his congratulations via Twitter.
"That's change even this South Sider can believe in. Want to come to the White House before I leave?" Obama wrote.
More than a game for Chicago
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in a statement released seconds after the victory, said it held great weight for the city and was "more than a game."
"It is about the families who have passed down a love for the Cubs from mothers and fathers to their sons and daughters, and from grandparents to grandchildren," Emanuel said.
Fran Zalewski, 51, comes from one such family and was celebrating outside Wrigley Field with her 22-year-old daughter Susie.
Zalewski's 93-year-old father, who suffers from early dementia and attended his first Cubs game in 1942, was watching from home.
"He's been waiting for this all these years," Zalewski said.
"He said he's not going out until the Cubs win," her daughter added.
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