Summer Solstice Sleepover at 360 CHICAGO

Something incredible happened this week at the 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck atop the John Hancock Center. I had the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the first-ever 360 Summer Solstice Sleepover fundraising event. 

This private sleepover soiree, which took place on the first full day of summer, offered photographers and Instagrammers the chance to capture the sun setting to the west, the fireworks over Navy Pier and the sunrise to the east, all while raising funds for My Block, My Hood, My City (M3). In fact, 100% of the proceeds went straight to M3.

My Block, My Hood, My City is led by Jahmal Cole and is designed to inspire and prepare Chicago’s young people for their rightful role as active, engaged, and self-determined citizens.  Broadening the often severely limited viewpoints and opportunities of teenagers living in underserved communities.  M3 accelerates youth insight into careers, jobs, lifestyles, culture and opportunities they have never experienced.

Event organizer, Nick Ulivieri, a phenomenal photographer from Chicago, announced the event raised nearly $8,000 for My Block, My Hood, My City.

The evening commenced at 7:30 pm and continued for 12 amazing hours until 7:30 am the next day. Upon check-in, participants received a goody bag from Walgreens with a special event t-shirt including a bag of Garrett Popcorn and other swag.  

While ascending over 1,000 feet above Chicago, the elevator opened and attendees walked out onto the 94th floor to see breathtaking views of the city. I walked around the entire floor in a loop, taking photos, and to scope out where I’d want to setup for my first shots of the night. 

On the north side of the observation deck, Revolution Brewing was there providing samples of beer. They offered their Anti-Hero IPA, Sun Crusher Hoppy Wheat Ale, Rosa Hibiscus Ale and more. Each event-goer received a can of Revolution Brewing beer with their ticket purchase. After contemplating with my taste buds, I opted to get the Sun Crusher beer because it was so delicious. I also thought it was apropos – drinking Sun Crusher while watching the sunset.

Once the sun started setting, I ended up on the northwest corner of the 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck and camped out there for nearly two hours to capture saying goodbye to the sun.

During that time, a talented jazz group, Lowdown Brass Band performed. They kept the 94th floor hopping with great tunes, funky vibes and positive energy. All of that excitement made everyone hungry and Lou Malnati’s pizza was delivered at the perfect time for dinner.

After the sun had parted ways from Chicago, and dinner was enjoyed, I went to the other side of the observation deck to watch the Navy Pier fireworks that started at 9:30 pm. The view was astonishing and the fireworks were awesome. It was a bit crowded with other photographers, so I wasn’t able to grab a great shooting spot, but it was a perfect cap to the night.

After the fireworks’ grand finale, there was a presentation about My Block, My Hood, My City. Photographer and organizer Nick Ulivieri spoke, followed by Nichole Williamson (M3 general manager) and Jahmal Cole (M3 founder). Cole was poised and explained what M3 was all about. He was such a pleasure to listen to and was incredibly inspirational.

Throughout the night, you could dance to music being provided by a DJ, play games like Jenga Giant, mini golf, hang out on hammocks, take advantage of 360 CHICAGO’s cash bar, and even ride Tilt on the south side of the building for an unlimited amount of time.

The Tilt is the first of its kind in the world, where you stand on a platform that extends out and over The Magnificent Mile and Chicago’s famous skyline, offering visitors unique, downward facing views from 1,030 feet above ground.

Around 3 am, I blew up my air mattress and got ready for a quick nap, by 4:30 am I was up and enjoyed a breakfast followed by a live segment from WGN-TV where Mike Janssen was reporting on the 360 Solstice Sleepover with Jahmal Cole. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy to grab any accurate photos of the sunrise.

This event was such a fun and extraordinary experience. I hope 360 CHICAGO holds more sleepover events similar to this one. It was very well-organized and was great getting to meet fellow photographers, philanthropists, and to learn about and raise funds for My Block, My Hood, My City.

View a one hour timelapse video of the sunset in 20 seconds and check out my photos of the 360 Summer Solstice Sleepover at 360 CHICAGO below.






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