Crowds, Costumes, Cereal and Cocktails = TBOX
What's billed as one of the largest and most spectacular events of its kind in the world took place Saturday December 8th 2012 in Chicago. It was "Festa's 17th Annual Twelve Bars of Christmas" a annual event which is held the Second Saturday in December in the Wrigleyville Neighborhood.
It started out as just another Pub Crawl in 1996 hosted by Chris Festa, "Mr. Festa" with what ended up being about 60 people. Originally, a sequential tour of 12 bars (based on the “12 Days of Christmas” carol), now Festa Parties puts together an all-day event. This year's spectacular event hosted more than 22,000 paid participants in the what is simply called TBOX. It stands for (T)welve (B)ars (O)f (X)mas - a themed event that I can best describe as Mardi Gras in Wrigleyville with a crowd predominantly comprised of "Millenials" with a spattering of Gen Y, Gen X and a teaspoon of baby boomers plus a lot more bars.
TBOX 2012 theme was "TBOXOPOLY". TBOXERs were each given a Official Program and Game board. One of the objects of the game was to visit 3 bars of the 4 color groups out of the 40+ participating bars in Wrigleyville and collect a sticker from each of the 12 bars. It started and ended with Opening and Closing Ceremonies and a finale party at the world-famous Cubby Bear at 1059 W. Addison. The festivities kicked off at 8 o'clock am. Yes, you read that right - 8 o'clock in the morning!
Costumes did not only include the Tradition Christmas Themes like Santa, Sexy Santa Girls, Elves, Reindeer, Candy Canes and Gifts. It also included everything from Star Wars Storm Troopers to a giant white bear in a Winnebago. Lots of very creative outfits could be found traveling the streets and in the bars of Wrigleyville.
Breakfast cereal also plays a roll in the extravaganza that is TBOX. As Mr. Festa explains on the TBOX website, it started back in his High School days. When "cool kids" hosting a St. Patrick's Day Beer Keg Party, "made him and other fellow geek/newbie partier friends drink an entire bucket filled with green beer, topped off with an entire box or Lucky Charms they poured into it." About seven years later on St. Patrick's Day, Mr. Festa and friends took a box of the magically delicious cereal out to the bars with them resulting in swarms of lovely ladies showering them with attention and several phone numbers. I believe this ritual falls into a "stick with what works" category.
Cocktails could be the biggest ingredient in the TBOX mix. Bars were open and drinking started before 8:30 am. For sometime during the day Clark Street was closed to normal street traffic because of the large crowd of partiers. After noon the streets were reopened for a few hours until too many ambulances were called to the scene to rescue careless elves and wayward reindeer wandering into on coming traffic. Eventually, Chicago Police and TBOX security rallied by lining the streets and thereby preventing rambunctious revelers from jay walking.
I don't have enough words or pictures to adequately describe the enormity of the TBOX spectacle. I shot more than 1100 images in my attempt to capture the experience. Here are a few of the photo's I took on my TBOX adventure.