CHICAGO The bar-laden North Side neighborhood around Wrigley Field isn't what you'd call docile even when the Chicago Cubs aren't in town.
Long-suffering Cubs fans poured into the streets around the stadium on Friday after the Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds and the Milwaukee Brewers lost, giving the team the NL Central title.
It's the first trip to the playoffs for Chicago since 2003, the fateful year they came so close five outs from the World Series.
"I'm so excited ... I've been a Cubs fan my entire life," said Rachael Shore, standing near a lighted Wrigley Field sign that blared "Chicago Cubs 2007 National League Central Division Champions."
The 22-year-old Shore said nothing was going to stop her from being in Wrigleyville when the Cubs clinched, not even her car breaking down on the way to the city to watch Friday's game. She and a friend pushed the car to a parking lot, hopped in a cab and made it in time to see the Brewers lose.
"The Cubs are going to the playoffs, and that's all I care about," she said.
Chicago police closed off main streets around Wrigley Field in anticipation of heavy crowds, Chicago police spokesman Hector Alfaro said. No incidents had been reported, and police began to clear and reopen the streets, he said.
The crowd appeared triumphant but tame, as Wrigleyville residents and their children mingled with twenty-something singles who'd spent the evening at bars, chanting "Let's go Cubbies!" and high-fiving strangers. Many posed for pictures in front of the stadium sign as they talked about finally kicking the famous curse of the billy goat that has plagued the team since the 1945 World Series.
"As a Cubs fan, this is what it's all about," said Zach Pastko, 25, gesturing to the happy throng. "It's better than being a Brewers fan."
After the Cubs clinched, Pastko called his grandmother in California, who was watching the game on television.
"My first instinct was to call my grandma because my grandpa passed away in 2002 and when they won in 2003 all I could think about was that they were trying to win for him," Pastko said.
Stoyan Jordanof and his identical twin, Yanko, watched the game across the street from Wrigley Field. Although the two grew up on the North Side and are both physical education teachers with the Chicago Public Schools, their baseball loyalties are divided: Stoyan is a Cubs fan, while Yanko roots for the Chicago White Sox.
"He was dropped on his head," Stoyan Jordanof said of his brother.
"I converted about five years ago," Yanko Jordanof said. "I'm not a Cubs hater, though."
Bar bouncer Everett Thorton called the win "glorious" and said Cubs playoff victories were good for business. But, being a Cubs fan, he's naturally cautious.
"Apparently the curse is not working because we're winning today," Thorton said. "Let's just take it one day at a time."