Saturday morning’s snow didn’t stop young drinkers and partiers in Wrigleyville from celebrating the holiday season with the Twelve Bars of Christmas (TBOX) bar crawl. Between 20,000 – 30,000 TBOX-ers adorned in ugly sweaters, Santa outfits and an unhealthy amount of tinsel, participated in this year’s “relatively quiet” event.
Known for its excessive drinking and late night vandalism, more than 50 bars in Wrigleyville participated in the annual event coordinated by Festa Parties.
After last year’s event drew 40,000 people and a slew of problems, including vandalism, noise and a midday stabbing, Festa Parties added security officers, port-a-potties, traffic coordinators and barricades on both sides of Clark Street.
Around 2:00pm, participants were already stumbling out of the area but the party was still going strong on Clark Street. During a brief walk up and down the main strip of bars, workers had mixed emotions.
One very blunt traffic coordinator at Clark and Addison was adamant that, “This is a stupid [expletive] event! I don’t understand why people would do this!”
While a security guard standing near Rebel Bar and Grill credited the barricades for forcing people to cross at the crosswalks. For him, the day was easy, but he was quick to admit that security stationed at the crosswalks had it the worst.
A little farther south on Clark Street, Sport Clips (Clark and Sheffield) was open for business and according to the employees, having a relatively busy day. For them the biggest improvement this year was port-a-potties on the street. An employee who worked during TBOX this year and last said, “Last year we were bombarded by people asking to use our bathroom. This year, we only had to kick one person out.”
As of Sunday afternoon, there was only on confirmed incident associated with TBOX and according to the arresting officer, "Santa has too much tea in his box."
Beyond the obvious financial benefits, I’m not sure if TBOX is a good investment in the community, but it’s clear the organizers are trying to shake off the association with last year’s stabbing.