Well in Chicago when our sports teams win a championship it seems like the whole city comes out to join in the celebration. Such as the case after the Chicago Blackhawks won their 2nd Stanley Cup Championship in 4 years in June, 2013. The last time they won in 2010, they estimated that somewhere between 1.5 to 1.7 million people turned out. This year's estimates were closer to 2 million. Although a majority of those 2 million seemed to be "kids" in their 20's, there were a number of families and yours truly.
I missed the first event, but this time with my handy camcorder and trusty camera in hand I ventured down for part of the day. The METRA regional train system offered $5 all day tickets and that was incentive enough to park the car at one of the stations and hop on board with a sea of red (Blackhawk colors are Red and Black). I had on a mainly Black Hawk T-Shirt and of course a Blackhawk hat (heck I wear a hat everywhere and if you met me you'd know why).
Anyway I got downtown around 8:00 a.m. for the 10:30 a.m. start time and wandered along the parade route and toward Grant Park where they were going to have the celebration at 11:00 a.m. I walked along Michigan Ave and the crowds kept growing. Went into one of the entrances to Grant Park (the Chicago police did a great job at keeping things under control and searched each and every backpack) and walked around a bit, but didn't want to be jammed packed with that many people so made it back to the parade route for a couple of more pictures and video.
Here are some of those pictures and a link to my 3 minute YouTube video.
It happens every year around the end of March or beginning of April. Spring is in the air and the cry is once again heard from all who come to "worship" by the soon to be green ivy walls of that hallowed Chicago Shrine otherwise known as Wrigley Field. "This is Our Year".
Yesterday, April 8, 2013, one of the Chicago area photo groups I belong to had planned an outing for a photo shoot around the outside of Wrigley Field where the activity is high. Everything from street performers, to Die Hard Cub fans, moms, dads, little kids, dogs, police, hawkers and almost every other type come on out to enjoy the hopeful Day in the Sun at the old ballpark (almost 100 years old).
This was the first time I have ever gone to Wrigley Field on Opening Day and I was not disappointed, at least from a photographers view point. The team is off to yet another rough start, but since it is only April we won't throw in the towel quite yet and start saying our next favorite saying, "Wait Until Next Year". It has been over 100 years that the Cubs have actually won the World Series and the hopeful hope to see a championship before they die.
Here are a few of the pictures I took yesterday to give you a flavor of what you'll see if you are in town for the opening day festivities. I'll add some more in a travelogue also.
On Saturday, March 2, 2013 I attended my first Chiditarod. I found out about this unique Chicago event through another social group I belong to the Chicago Street Photographers. This was the 8th annual event and after taking about 50 pictures and seeing all the different activities going on one that I probably will attend again. The event started just north of the United Center on Hubbard and Wood right across the street from the first fire station built in Chicago after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 (now converted to condos). From the official website here is a descrition of the event.
"Chiditarod (think Iditarod) is Chicago's Epic Urban Iditarod. A charity food drive, beauty pageant, costumed shopping cart race, talent show, fundraiser and chaos generator all in one. And probably the world's largest mobile food drive, benefitting the Greater Chicago Food Depository."
The actual Alaskan Iditarod is around the same time as the Chiditarod, but they have a few more miles to cover and use dogs and sleds vs people in costumes and shopping carts for their race.
Here are a couple of pictures from the event that will give you some idea of the craziness.
The River North Gallery District in Chicago is home to the second largest concentration of individually owned and operated galleries int he United States. According to the ever-helpful folks at Wikipedia: "A common definition puts the District in the area north of the Chicago River and the Merchandise Mart, south of Chicago Avenue, east of the Chicago River and west of Michigan Avenue. As it has grown and the area has gentrified, galleries can also now be found west of Orleans and east of LaSalle, though the core area still contains the highest concentration of galleries. Along with hundreds of art galleries, the area holds many bars, dance clubs, popular restaurants and entertainment venues."
A pleasant occupation is spend several unplanned and independent hours strolling from gallery to gallery, smiling at the attendants, pretending that you are a purchaser for a big league MVP footballer with an income in the 8 figures.
One of the best and most respected is the Victor Gruen Gallery at 226 West Superior. It really is a beautiful space, and always features some provocative, unusual, and one-of-a-kind pieces that you would be unlikely to find at your own local art fair. (All the photos at this page were taken at the Gruen Gallery.)
sometimes I collect Coffee Mugs on my travels too especially starbucks mugs if I feel like it and while here in chicago, I was intrigued by the Starbucks Coffee Mug Design for Chicago featuring the famous Water Tower as a design logo and it tickled my fancy hence I bought one while waiting for my flight to boston at the O Hare airport while having by favorite Arnold Palmer Drink (Iced tea Lemonade) at the Nearest Starbucks outlet near the Shuttle Gate to my flight. The Starbucks Chicago Coffee Mug costs $ 10.99.
shot glasses are another favorite collectible of mine hen going to a new place and like buying a refrigerator magnet, I definitely must buy one here and again the good news is that you can buy whatever style of shot glass you want whether the regular glass or the etched shot glass or the frosted glass of the metal glass and there are different designs around the shot glasses. Plus it is available everywhere in the shops, stores, malls, souvenir shops in Chicagoland and costs $ 3.99 to $ 7.99 depending if it is glass or metal. Buyn one when in chicago.
my favorite collectible when I'm going to a new place and since this is my first time to visit (not the last time I hope) Chicago, then buying my fave Collector Item is a must and the good news is that there are lots of Choices of the designs of the Refrigerator Magnets here and they also come in Magnetized Metal or Plastic with Magnets, Wood with magnets, Steel with magnets, aluminum with magnets and more and are available in the many souvenir shops and stores around Chicagoland and the costs are from $ 2.99 to 8.99 (depending on the component) so grab one now if you are in chicago.
Out of all of the off the wall/bizarre tips that I have included on my Chicago page, I can assure you that this one is the strangest.
In 1995 an organization began a movement that wants to tackle some of the hardest issues the world is facing, by doing so they claim that world peace can be accomplished. The tool that this group wants to use to solve weighty issues is one that can be found inside of yourself... laughter.
This is the Chicago branch and it is comprised of about 50 people that get together once a month and do what it is that they set out to.
When you first go to the meeting it is as if you have walked into a meeting full of people that escaped from the psych ward. Odd isn?t the proper word to describe what goes on at these things. What took me by surprise is that no punch lines or witty come back are needed in order to get... well, a laugh. The people just start laughing and do not stop until they are slumped over from doing so.
If you are interested in having them come to your office in order to improve office moral, they have certified laugh leaders in order to help you achieve the state of inner peace that everyone desires.
Groups like these and the people found in them are truly what make the world go round
In the Summer of 1999, a herd of ornate - but life-size - bovine effigies appeared downtown in "Cows on Parade." A 'public art' competition, it was inspired by a similar event which had taken place in Zurich, Switzerland the year before. Not to be outdone, Chicago - long ago the epicenter of the American meat packing industry - embraced the idea on a grand scale.
Remaining on display (outside the Chicago Cultural Center), a last lone cow stands guard over a plaque commemorating the organizers and participants.
I happened to be in Chicago as the baseball playoffs were getting started and since both the Cubs and the White Sox had made it to the post-season, it seemed like the entire city was going a little crazy! Unfortunately, both teams got eliminated during their first best-of-4 series, but people didn't know that yet ;o) Baseball is so popular in Chicago, you'd almost forget that the city has several other professional teams, including the Chicago Bulls (basketball), Chicago Blackhawks (hockey) and Chicago Bears (football). The few times that I stopped by souvenir shops, they were flooded with baseball paraphernalia and practically nothing else. I also happened to go to an almost sold-out musical on the first night the Cubs were playing, which resulted in several empty seats in the house. The funny thing is that the actors found a way to give the final score during the show, and they dedicated the encore song "to all the suckers who had stayed at home to watch the Cubs lose"!!!
I was pleasantly surprised to discover a Farmer's Market at the heart of downtown Chicago! Every Thursday from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm, from mid-May to mid-October, you can find fresh produce, cheese, bread, pastries and more at the Daley Plaza Farmer's Market. It's a little weird to have the countryside brought into the middle of the Loop, surrounded by traffic and skyscrapers, but all the products looked very tempting. In fact, there were quite a few locals around getting they weekly fix of fresh vegetables. As for me, I ended up buying some homemade chocolate chip cookies and they were definitely worth what I paid for!
One thing I noticed about Chicago is that it is a very technologically-advanced city - you should have seen me trying to find a public phone in downtown Chicago! I finally ended up walking into a restaurant, and they felt so bad about not being able to point me in the direction of a public phone that one of the waiters let me use his cell phone (thank goodness for friendly Chicagoans!).
Another problem I ran into was that even though my hotel provided me with everything I could have wanted and more, Internet access was only available to those who travelled with their laptop. As this wasn't my case, the frontdesk staff pointed me in the direction of Biznet Cafe, which seemed to be the only Internet cafe in the entire Magnificient Mile area. The price was $5 for the first 30 minutes, and $1 for each additionnal 10 minutes. Although the building doesn't look like much from the outside, there was actually a nice atmosphere inside, with good music, plenty of fast computers and comfortable chairs. The manager and staff were also very nice.
Biznet Cafe is located at 205 East Ohio Street, just 2 blocks down from North Michigan Avenue.
Shortly after I started out on my walking tour of downtown Chicago on a Sunday morning, I came across this scene of the bride and groom, as well as their wedding party, trying for a few good pictures on the north side of the Michigan Avenue bridge over the Chicago River. They seemed to be having a good time and the relatively light traffic was cooperating as best it could!
A bit earlier on the walk, two street muscians (2nd photo) were really banging out some nice tunes in the Ontario Street area, not far from my hotel. I remember thinking that although their music was enjoyable, it seemed to be quite loud. In doing some research for this tip I find that the city placed some restrictions on these artists as outlined below:
[Street performers here such as bucket drummers, saxophonists, bagpipers and singers are being ordered to pipe down, making Chicago the latest city to try to reduce urban noise. The City Council adopted the restrictions Wednesday to ban all performances on a busy four-block stretch of Michigan Avenue known as the Magnificent Mile. The regulations also lower acceptable decibel levels everywhere else in the city and require entertainers exceeding 55 decibels — the level of loud talking — to pack up by 8 p.m. on weeknights. Permit fees will increase from $50 to $75. The crackdown was prompted by complaints from businesses and residents such as Susan Mardell, who lives on the 29th floor of a Michigan Avenue building. She says outdoor music, especially from groups whacking on plastic buckets, "echoes up through your apartment through closed windows and closed doors. ... It's a repetitious, jarring kind of noise."] Actually, I don't think I saw another band after that one but late-April may be a bit too early in the season for them.
Have you heard of the Curse of the Billy Goat? Yes, there is a legitimate reason the Chicago Cubs does not win the world series. It's the curse. Billy the owner of Billy Goat Tavern took his beloved goat, Murphy, to the game but they were kicked out of Wrigley Field. Angered Billy put a curse on the Cubs, and since then the Cubs has been going down hill. They tried to de-curse later on, but oh well, you know the history.
The famous Billy Goat Tavern is on Madison St. by the United center. You have to get their Cheezborger (~ you know as in Saturday Night Live).
No, Mayor Daley has not ordered that the official name of the city be changed to "Gotham". But it's true that in the summer there were plenty of "Gothamites" running around, as the Chicago was the prime location for the filming of the latest "Batman" epic.
Chicago has been featured in many memorable films, from "Ferris Bueller" to "The Blues Brothers", the "Home Alone" films to "North by Northwest". 2007 was a banner year in Chicago Movie History, as a record number of films were partially or wholly filmed in the windy city.
Don't be surprised to come across "location shooting" at various sites around the city. And it's not exactly unprecedented to see "the great Stars" in Chicago - sometimes at fancy or not so fancy restaurants, shopping on Michigan Ave. - or taking their children to see "Sue" at the Field Museum. (I read that in the summer of 2007, "Brangelina & Co." were given a special private tour of the museum. Nice for them.)
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