RIVER NORTH — The world champion Chicago Cubs — used to that yet? — returned for one last victory lap and to start off the new year at the team's annual fan convention this weekend.
Fan favorite "Grandpa" David Ross walked the World Series trophy onstage and down a runway into the crowd to bring the opening ceremony to a climax Friday night in the main ballroom of the Sheraton Grand Chicago, 301 E. North Water St.
The World Series Trophy was already on site for fans in attendance to take pictures with it.
Fans get their picture taken with the World Series trophy at the Cubs convention. [DNAinfo/Ted Cox]
"You can feel the energy," said outfielder Jason Heyward shortly before the convention was to formally open, "and that's what's so special about this."
A raucous standing-room-only crowd in the ballroom chanted, "Thank you Joe," for manager Joe Maddon, and cheered the last out of the 2016 World Series when it was shown on projection screens at the beginning and again toward the end of the opening ceremony.
Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts called it "the best Cubs convention of all time" because "we won the World Series."
On Saturday, leading sessions include the Ricketts family at 9 a.m., Maddon and his coaching staff at 11 a.m., pitchers Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, Mike Montgomery and new closer Wade Davis at noon, the All-Star infield of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and Ben Zobrist at 1 p.m., a kids-only press conference at 2:30 p.m. and Cubs legends at 4 p.m.
Things wind down Sunday with only a couple of sessions remembering the 1984 team and looking at top prospects in the minor leagues.
In addition to almost all the members of last year's championship squad, prominent alumni in attendance included Hall-of-Famers Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and Ryne Sandberg, along with popular favorites Kerry Wood, Jose Cardenal, Ryan Dempster and, making his debut as an alumnus in retirement, "Grandpa Rossy."
Weekend passes were sold out, but were available through StubHub for $370 as of Friday morning.
The Cubs travel to the White House Monday to be congratulated by President Barack Obama.
"We're happy to go," Russell said. "It's an honor when you get an invitation from the president."
"I'm most happy for our players," added team President Theo Epstein. "That's a big part of winning the World Series is getting to show up at the White House dressed to the nines and walk around and ... meet the president. It's a real honor for us, especially with President Obama in his last week in office and a Chicagoan."
The Cubs then prepare for the start of training camp, with pitchers reporting Feb. 14 and the rest of the team three days later. They open the season April 2 in St. Louis, with the home opener at Wrigley Field set for April 10 against Los Angeles.
The Cubs and Wrigley Field are 95 percent owned by an entity controlled by a trust established for the benefit of the family of Joe Ricketts, owner and CEO of DNAinfo.com. Joe Ricketts has no direct involvement in the management of the iconic team.
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