The Stanley Cup, the trophy annually awarded to the champion team of the National Hockey League, will be on display at this Sunday’s Chicago Gay Pride Parade – its first appearance at a gay-themed event.

The Chicago Blackhawks were extended an invite to be part of the parade by The Chicago Gay Hockey Association, and have accepted. The team have just won their first Stanley Cup in 49 years. Also present will be the Chicago Cubs, who will have their own float in the parade.

The team’s vehicle will be festooned with a brick-and-ivy motif after the style of their home ground of Wrigley Field, which is only blocks away from the parade route.

The Cubs have given their support to various gay community causes over the past few years. The team’s vice president of community, Mike Lufrano, said, “We know we have many fans in the community”.

As for the Blackhawks, Defenseman [sic] Brent Sopel, a 33-year-old father of three, will accompany the Stanley Cup on the parade. Mr Sopel said he would be taking part in the celebrations in honour of the late gay son of his former boss, the ice hockey executive and General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brian Burke.

Brendan Burke, 21, was killed in a car accident in February, mere months after publicly coming out. Mr Sopel said, “Anybody who has had to bury a child has suffered heartbreak and this was the first thing that came to mind. Everything that happened with Brendan coming out last year and dying three months later, it was a tragedy.”

Chicago Pride’s official website says that “the parade will feature 250 registered entries including floats, decorated vehicles, performance groups, a marching band and walking contingents.

“The entries represent community organizations, businesses, governmental officials and individual community members.”

Hundreds of thousands are expected to attend.