Tag Archives: Illinois

Chicago Columbus Day Parade

Former Congressman Marty Russo talks about the Chicago Columbus Day Parade in 1986 when Vice President George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush joined in the fun.

George Bush, Marty Russo and Barbara Bush

Vice President George H. W. Bush, Congressman Marty Russo and Barbara Bush march in the 1986 Chicago Columbus Day Parade

As an Italian-American in Chicago, one of the iconic experiences is the yearly Columbus Day Parade put on by the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans.

Each year, it was an honor to march in the parade along with such dignataries as the mayor, the governor, state senators and representatives, local officials and other community leaders.

In 1986, it was an especially rewarding experience as my good friend, then Vice President George H. W. Bush agreed to join us along with his wife, Barbara Bush.

This photo with the Bushes is very special to me as it shows the close friendship and camaraderie we felt.

I have to admit there were a few raised eyebrows when the Republican Vice President walked the entire parade alongside a Democratic Congressman.  Indeed, later that day, the VP went on to several fundraisers for Republicans.It was the magic of sports that made us become close friends — first as the paddle-ball partner for the VP (and later President) as well as being golf buddies.

VP George H. W. Bush, Marty Russo and Barbara Bush

VP George H. W. Bush hoists 5 year old Rafael Thompson in the 1986 Columbus Day Parade in Chicago alongside Mayor Harold Washington, Congressman Marty Russo and First Lady Barbara Bush

It’s a reflection on the goodness and kindness of GHWB that when a small child ran out from the crowd toward the Vice President, he scooped him up without hesitation into a welcoming embrace.  It was totally spontaneous and the crowd loved it.  Mayor Harold Washington was marching with us and this photo by The Chicago Tribune showing VP Bush and young Rafael Thompson was front page news.

Its a good feeling to view this photo almost 30 years ago and remember the warmth on that (probably) cold Chicago day.


Cherry Blossom Princess 2014

Cherry Blossom Princess 2014

Marty Russo crowns Illinois Cherry Blossom Princess 2014, Lauren Eiten

Illinois State Society:

60 years of crowning the Cherry Blossom Princess

It was great to hear recently from Mark Rhoads of the Illinois State Society.  You can read some interesting history on Illinois dating back to 1867 by checking out his history blog.  Mark’s book, is called Land of Lincoln, Thy Wondrous Story and it received a great review from the State Journal Register. Mark also sent me some fun photos of 60 years of crowning the Illinois State Society Cherry Blossom  (see slide show, below — click to cycle through photos).  Check out Senator Everett Dirksen, Governor Adlai Stevenson, and others.

Chicago Blackhawks Win the Stanley Cup (Again)

Marty Russo at the Chicago Blackhawks

Marty Russo at the Chicago Blackhawks

It was great to be at the United Center for the second game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

While I was cheering the Blackhawks on, I was honored to spend some time with Hall of Famer Stan Mikita who was considered one of the best centers in hockey when he played in the 1960’s. See photo with Stan Mikita, below.

Blackhawks #21, Stan Mikita, and his teammate #9, Bobby Hull, are both now immortalized in bronze statues outside the United Center. They helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 1961 and are the heroes I grew up watching. At that time, the team played a half-mile from my childhood home in the original “Mad House on Madison” otherwise known as the Chicago Stadium.

Marty Russo and Stan Mikita

Marty Russo and Stan Mikita

The Chicago Tribune published an account of the unveiling of the statues back in October, 2011:

“The larger-than-life monuments stand side-by-side at the Northeast corner of the United Center, across the street from where Hull and Mikita thrilled packed crowds at the Chicago Stadium en route to Hockey Hall-of-Fame careers. “It hasn’t sunk in and I don’t know if it ever will,” Mikita, 71, said as he gazed at his statue. “I’ve never been called beautiful, but I’m going to call myself beautiful.”

As we all know, the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup again this year. It’s amazing that they have won it two times in four years after having to wait 49 years for to win again after the 1961 victory.

Of course, I celebrated by trying on my Blackhawks jersey from the days when I played on the Blackhawks Alumni team back when I was in Congress. I’m happy to report the jersey still fits!

Marty Russo in Congressional Alumni Blackhawks Jersey

Marty Russo in Congressional Alumni Blackhawks Jersey

See my blog back in June, 2010 when the Blackhawks won.

Go Blackhawks!

It’s been 49 years since my brother and I cheered the Blackhawks to victory when they beat the Detroit Redwings for the Stanley Cup. We’ve been waiting for this day a long time, but patience has paid off.

What better way to celebrate this Chicago Victory than by digging out my Blackhawks jersey that dates back to my days in Congress.

go black


I had a great time playing as Number 66 in that 1990 match between the Chicago Blackhawks Alumni and the Hollywood All Stars to raise funds for local charities. To my surprise (and that of the 14,500 fans watching in Chicago Stadium), I stole the puck and passed it to Art Skov who tipped it in for a goal.

What an exciting moment to be on the ice alongside some of the greatest players in Chicago Blackhawk history: Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, Dale Tallon, Keith Magnuson and others.

Sounds to me like we have some great players on our current roster as well. You can bet there are a lot of other happy Blackhawks fans all over America today.

Originally published on the C&A Blog at www.cassidy.com.