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Thousands Fill Grant Park for Bulls Celebration

June 18, 1996

CHICAGO (AP) _ Hector Pagan painted four banners _ one for each NBA championship. The Torres family _ mother, father and 10-year-old daughter _ wore red-and-white balloons shaped like horns.

Thousands of others _ some of whom waited overnight through heavy downpours for a better view _ filled Grant Park today for their personal pledge of allegiance to the hometown heroes, the Chicago Bulls.

The rally marked the city’s official recognition of a NBA championship well done, and even the skies cooperated, as thunderstorms were replaced by sun showers for the event.

In his own celebration of the Bulls’ championship Sunday night, Pagan fashioned not one but four mementos. ``They’ve got four trophies, I’ve got four banners,″ he said. One depicted ``Mount Dunkmore,″ with Coach Phil Jackson and players Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman filling in for the traditional four presidents’ visages.

The Bulls and their fans weren’t the only ones savoring a victory.

Mayor Richard M. Daley credited police, firefighters, the media, Jordan and the Bulls, and Chicago’s citizens for the relatively small amount of post-championship trouble this year.

Even with 650 people arrested in six and a half hours and 38 stores looted or broken into, city officials say Sunday night paled in comparison to the aftermath of Chicago’s three previous NBA championships.

After the Bulls’ second title in 1992, rioters set fire to businesses and damaged scores of police cars, city buses and subway cars; damage was estimated at more than $10 million. And 906 people were arrested after the 1993 championship, police said.

Nevertheless, superintendent Matt Rodriguez said the approximately 6,000 police on the streets had their hands full _ especially right after the Bulls’ 87-75 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics.

``In the first half hour, it was almost like New Year’s Eve,″ he said.

Fire commissioner Raymond Orozco added: ``There were shots being fired all over the city.″

The inside of one West Side drug store was nearly destroyed by looters; police said damage at most other stores was limited to broken windows.

And of the three homicides reported during the period, investigators decided none was related to the Bulls.

The city spent about $3.2 million in preparations for the celebration, most of it on police overtime for the three nights th Bulls had a chance to win a fourth game.

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