This post is part of The Heart of Chicago Series that will be running on South of I-80 for the month of March. Today story is one of love (grab a tissue ladies) and it is brought to you by Samantha Schultz of The Peanuts Gang.
Chicago's Ferris Wheel Love Story by Samantha Schultz
Recently, Navy Pier was named one of the Top 50 Tourist Destinations in the World. Several friends discussed how they didn't necessarily agree with this Chicago pick, but for me, Navy Pier means something extra-special to me and definitely falls near the top of my Chicago must-visit list.
Fourteen years ago, my heart was stolen by that handsome fella in the picture above. We attended Junior year homecoming "together," Senior year homecoming together, went together to our Senior Prom, and walked each other to our lockers. We broke up once (for a few hours), kissed before we were *officially* boyfriend & girlfriend, helped each other with homework (ahem), and he ate my family's leftovers a lot. I fell in love with an unlikely suitor for me - long[ish] hair, Metallica & heavy metal band t-shirts, combat boots, and the like. Think Heath Ledger in "Ten Things I Hate About You" minus the Australian accent. Three years after our first date on Valentine's Day 2003, we planned to spend the day the way we usually did - a walk around Navy Pier in Chicago & dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.
Leading up to that day, Jim left a CD of songs on my car's windshield (music I didn't recognize) and his beater car took it's last mobile breath. With this unexpected [huge] expense, Jim prepared me for Valentine's Day by letting me know that his gift this year would not be substantial because of the car and that we'd just enjoy each other's company.
We headed downtown (a bit earlier than was typical) and actually had lunch at Joe's BeBop Cafe where Jim gave me my gift - a picture frame with some sentiment about soul mates (isn't that AWFUL that I can't recall right now?) and my all-time favorite candy - a Reese's Peanut Butter heart. I was thrilled! Suddenly, after lunch, Jim took a glance outside and then grabbed my hand. He started RUNNING and *dragging* me all the way towards the outside of the Pier! The only thing outside that was of any value to me was the Ferris Wheel, but because of the cold Chicago winters, it's always closed.
Imagine my surprise when we burst through the doors to the outside to where I see the gigantic spinning Ferris Wheel - lit up and turned ON! With no one around, Jim paid for our trip and we grabbed our seat. He sat across from me (which I thought was VERY strange considering we were on a date!) As we moved towards the top, he reminded me about his lack of gifts and reminded me of the question he asked me every Valentine's Day - "Will you be my Valentine?" He told me when we got to the top, he had to ask me a question and I immediately (and ONLY) thought it was his typical question.
As I looked out at the beautiful cityscape, I turned back to find us at the tip top of the Ferris Wheel on our solo ride and my then-boyfriend was on bended knee - in the Ferris Wheel - and then he said - "Will you be my Forever Valentine?" I was shocked! My first thought (and question) went to my dad - "Did you ask him?!" Indeed, he had. He again asked the question and asked for an answer to which I said, "YES!" and we made our descent.
We have shared eleven more Valentine's Days since then and almost ten years in marriage. He is still my forever Valentine. The city and the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel will always hold a special place in my heart and every time I visit the city, I search out the beautiful lights of the Pier as a special reminder of that beautiful night.
Samantha and Jim have two little boys and reside in the south suburbs. When Samantha isn't wrangling her busy boys and penning her amazing blog The Peanuts Gang, she also is writing for Chicago Parent. In her free time, she has been raising money for several charities through races and stair climbs all over Chicagoland.
If you liked this post, you may also like: 14 Chicago Musicians and The Neighborhoods They Call Home, 3 Ways I Found The Heart of Chicago, Running Miles for Chicago Charities, The Real Sacrifice, My Favorite Place in Chicago, Chicago's Lessons
To follow #TheHeartofChicago Series, become a subscriber:
Filed under: Uncategorized