How does Chicago celebrate it’s birthday? I have been curious about this for many years, but this was my first opportunity to find out. I was very interest Chicago’s birthday celebration because it is my birthday, too. This year was very special, because it was also “Fat Tuesday”. I concluded that Chicago can throw a great birthday party. It was planned by the Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.
As I approached the east lobby of the Daley Center where a fairly large group was in attendance, I heard the last sounds of the drummer from the American Indian Center, which I found compelling. Chicago’s 55th Mayor, Rahm Emmanuel, addressed the group and shared his vision of Chicago, the city by the river. He was very enthusiastic about plans for a river walk, which he believes will add to Chicago’s appeal, continuing to catapult Chicago in the goal to make it the best city in the country.
Jordan MacDonald, a very impressive fifth grader from Amelia Earhart Chicago Public Elementary School read his winning essay in the contest sponsored in partnership with the Friends of DuSable to honor Chicago’s first permanent resident, Jean Baptist Pointe DuSable. Jordan began by referring to the role of Jean Baptist Pointe DuSable in establishing Chicago as a trade center and concluded by telling about President Obama’s announcement of funds that will go to Chicago to support high-tech with the goal of bringing about a “Silicon Valley” of the Midwest.
The Big Shoulders Brass Band & Mystic Krewe of Laff played a New Orleans style “Happy Birthday” before leading the audience out to the plaza where the hot music and dancing kept participants warm.
Inside, the honored guests gathered around the Chicago’s birthday cake for a great photo-op and then lingered while Mayor Emanuel patiently joined the honored children for their individual photos.
Along the wall, there were some tables. One held the FREE cheesecake from Eli’s that guests enjoyed as long as it lasted. Another table held Chicago flags and certificates. When I asked about the certificates, I was told that they were for people who also had birthdays that day-so I was presented with one.
I stepped out to join in the dancing on the plaza, and was given some Mardi-Gras beads. Then I walked around looking at the food trucks that were selling all kinds of food. (See below) Being “Fat Tuesday” the paczkis from Delightful Pastries attracted a lot of attention. There was a designated area for beer from Goose Island and wine for purchase and musical entertainment from DJ Lisa René from 11am – 7pm. .
After checking out the food trucks and watching Mayor Emanuel greet many of the truck owners, I stepped inside again to see what was going on. A few people were mingling and sharing their personal Chicago stories. I noticed two women talking and one of them had a certificate. I commented on the certificate and she said it was her 77th birthday. That made two of us, she was born in Brooklyn but I was born in Chicago. Elizabeth told me that when her friends asked what she was doing for her birthday she told them she was celebrating it with the Mayor. It certainly makes for a memorable birthday.
Happy Birthday, Chicago!
Photos: Barbara Keer
Gino’s Steaks Truck
Haute and Ready Chicago
Husky Hog BBQ
Ms. Tittles Cupcakes
The Cheesie’s Truck
Windy City Patty Wagon