A true Chicagoan soaks up every fortuitous opportunity that summer presents. This often comes with the attendance of neighborhood street festivals that fill everyone’s weekend social calendar. The tell of a street festival is the undeniable smells of stale beer, Coppertone, and funnel cakes. Although the crowds all vary in age, sex, and levels of intoxication during any given fest, they all fall into the same rhythmic pattern. You go, you overpay for beer, gawk at five-dollar sunglasses, and listen to mediocre bands while a woman pushing 50 wears a tube top and proceeds to tell you about the time she saw Stevie Nicks in concert circa before you were born. Which brings me to my point of this whole rant, the aftermath.
I’ve experienced many a festival in neighborhoods sprinkled all around the city limits to see the good, the bad, and the ugly. My encounter with my own neighborhood street festival was this very Sunday morning. Similar to a deserted shantytown, the aftermath of glitter bombed, leather-sport festival had wrecked havoc on my street. Half drank bottles of beer, condoms, and three-inch platform heels were the causalities leftover from the preceding days events. I understand the fun someone has sashaying their way through the crowds of glamourous and exuberant people during the festival, but what about the people who have to live there day in and day out?
Through my own sober eyes, I saw the damage that was left by the passerby’s in my neighborhood. The suns presence this morning was tenuous, at best, casting a gray sky against the rows of white tents that flanked both sides of the streets. I slinked through the metal barricade to stop by a coffeeshop for a much needed morning coffee. A father walked his young daughter along the empty street, holding her hand as she stepped through puddles of a mixture of alcohol and rainwater. Her eyes were as big as sand dollars. Her innocence not yet lost, but sheltered from the ruckus of the past evening. I was envious that she was so carefree and optimistic, while I was the older jaded soul looking out at my destroyed neighborhood, my home.
About the author: A cultural anthropologist who makes social quips one day at a time @Kelseyellefson. Has a deep love for bacon, cheese, and sartorial content. Advertising professional, rogue DIYer, and an amateur yogini.