Tunney Backs Ordinance on Pub Crawls After Stabbing, Mayor Unmoved

By Ted Cox and Serena Dai  on December 10, 2012 3:33pm  | Updated on December 11, 2012 3:12pm

CHICAGO — Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said he'll introduce an ordinance to regulate pub crawls after violence and mayhem erupted at the 12 Bars of Christmas event Saturday in Wrigleyville.

After midnight, a man was attacked and stabbed in the neck with a broken beer bottle at Red Ivy, 3525 N. Clark St. An earlier fracas in the street sent another man through the window of Chicago Comics, 3244 N. Clark St.

The TBOX bacchanal led to the spontaneous closure of Clark Street midafternoon, along with violence and property destruction, Tunney said. But pub crawls are not regulated unless they require a special-events permit, he said.

"It's kind of new territory," Tunney said Monday at City Hall. "We're looking at potential regulation of what one would call pub crawls.  We want to get a handle on how do we regulate the size, the hours of operation and such."

But Mayor Rahm Emanuel rejected any restrictions.

Asked if his administration was looking into restrictions after Saturday's incidents, the mayor responded with a terse, "No."

TBOX has been going on for 17 years, according to the Festa Parties website, which runs the event. Festa Parties did not respond to requests for comment.

Clark Street was closed Saturday afternoon as the event, which began at 8 a.m., spilled into the streets south of Wrigley Field, filling the blocks with people outfitted in Santa hats, elf skirts and garish Christmas sweaters.

It was not a scheduled street closure, according to Tunney.

"It's the police call to shut the street down and have a redirect," he said, calling it a public-safety issue.

Tunney also said the Twelve Bars of Christmas event had no limit on registration. But the Festa Parties blog said registration was indeed being capped.

"We want to make sure that even though the event will be an amazing time and THE PLACE TO BE, we want to make sure we have enough capacity at our 43 Venues to move around comfortably," it reads.

At the McDonald's at North Clark and Addison streets, two security guards were not enough for a morning rush, and manager Abraham Carmona had to call in two more after customers broke a patio door and bathroom door handles.

"It was way more than we expected," Carmona said.

Salt and Pepper Diner, 3537 N. Clark St., had to lock its door to manage capacity for the  crowd, an unusual move for the diner in the heart of Wrigleyville, said server Anna Montalvo.

And Einstein Bros. Bagels, 3455 N. Clark St., a few customers fell asleep at tables and at the bathroom door, said James Gibson, a manager at the store.

Despite the ruckus, TBOX is a boon for businesses, and this year in particular was bigger and better than ever, said Gus Isacson, executive director of Central Lake View Merchants Association.

He said restaurants told him they received loads of customers at times when stores are usually empty.

"I'm glad businesses could come up with a promotion that tapped into the neighborhood," Isacson said.

He said he had not yet learned enough about the stabbing to comment on it.

Tunney said he'd work with the city's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Law Department to fashion an ordinance regulating pub crawls to be considered for City Council approval in the coming year.

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