By Jake Coburn
Section 8 cannot be defined as one group or one identity, but rather, they are a melting pot of smaller groups and cultures that share one common thread: They bleed for the Chicago Fire.
“Section 8 is the umbrella organization,” said the Director of Communications Dan Martin, “no one can say what to do.”
The groups are able to make their own banners and support in their own way. They follow certain guidelines, but overall, they are able to conduct themselves and their group how they want to and not by what someone above them orders.
The idea of Section 8 is to be able to bring together all of these smaller divisions of Fire fans into one place. Before the game, everyone gathers outside of Toyota Park for a tailgate.
As we entered the tailgate, we were surrounded by different groups participating in pre-game activities including playing different games, barbequing, and, of course, a little bit of drinking.
At one end of the tailgate, one of the Hispanic supporters groups were celebrating and getting ready for the game against the rivaled Columbus Crew. At the other end, a Polish group was doing the same.
It may look like these groups are split up everywhere. But in reality, they are all celebrating together in their own way with the common goal of supporting their Chicago Fire.
Martin took it upon himself to show us around and meet the different people within Section 8. He joked with us saying that, “There are only eight members of Section 8,” which were the eight elected officials that helped Section 8. Everyone else is the mixture of the different groups and individuals that support the Fire.
The Chairman of Section 8, Joel Pitkel, referred to themselves as a “bottom-up organization.” The most important part is the smaller groups and individuals, not the elected officials.
As we continued to walk around, we were approached by a member of a Polish group called Husaria. He proceeded to inform us of his group while handing out a Polish drink in which the alcohol content was questionable to say the least.
As game time approached, a loud bang was let out inside the stadium. People began to disperse from the tailgate and get ready to cheer on the Fire. Fifteen minutes later, another bang was heard as everyone hurried to the stadium. All of the different groups now merged into one. We could not decipher between who was whom. All we see was a group of fans dedicated to one team: the Chicago Fire.
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