PORTAGE PARK — Driving along Milwaukee Avenue in Portage Park was breaking Alex Perry's heart.
Every time Perry caught a glimpse of the giant mural rooting on the Chicago Blackhawks at 4251 N. Milwaukee Ave. painted by him and his dad, Ches — who live and breathe hockey — he remembered the team's June 1 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings in Game Seven of the Western Conference Finals.
"It stung every time I saw the mural," Alex Perry said. "It was a great series, but losing was so disappointing. The mural just reminded me they didn't win."
Heather Cherone says these super fans haven't given up on the Hawks, they just needed to move on from their Stanley Cup loss:
Unable to cope with the pain any longer, Ches Perry, who painted the mural in June 2013 to cheer on the Blackhawks during the playoff run that ended up snagging the Stanley Cup championship, this week painted over what had become a neighborhood landmark.
"We planned to keep it up for a year, but then the Blackhawks made the playoffs again," Alex Perry said of the team's run in 2014. "It was a good run."
Members of the Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce, the Perrys — who own Right Way Signs — have now turned the 20-by-30-foot brick wall into an advertisement for Jeff Fest, which is July 25-27. (Incorrect dates will be fixed by Saturday, Alex Perry said.)
Dozens of people have called and stopped by their hand-painted sign shop in Jefferson Park to ask what happened to the Blackhawks mural — and demand that it be restored, Alex Perry said.
The father-and-son hockey fanatics had planned to repaint the mural if the Blackhawks made it to the Stanley Cup Finals this year, so they already have some ideas in mind, Alex Perry said.
"We'll put it back if the Hawks make another run," Alex Perry said.
In September, Right Way Signs plans to renew its lease of the space on the brick wall, which overlooks a parking lot for a shuttered nightclub and is next door to Dunkin' Donuts, Alex Perry said.
Once the lease is renewed, the Perrys plan to paint another mural, this one featuring one of the most famous quotes from the 1986 Chicago cult classic "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" — "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around for a while, you could miss it."
"We just wanted to do something fun and positive," Alex Perry said. "It is going to make people happy."