Tunney Suggests Targeting Bars to Control Pub Crawl Mayhem

By Serena Dai on January 15, 2013 6:53am | Updated on January 15, 2013 10:07am

 Wrigleyville bars fill up during the Twelve Bars of Christmas bar crawl, organized by Festa Parties. More than 40,000 people attended on Dec. 15.
Wrigleyville bars fill up during the Twelve Bars of Christmas bar crawl, organized by Festa Parties. More than 40,000 people attended on Dec. 15.
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LAKEVIEW — In light of weak support for a pub crawl ordinance, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) suggested raucous crowds could be tamed by focusing on the pubs instead of pub crawl organizers.

The Twelve Bars of Christmas, or TBOX, pub crawl was marred by violence and complaints of rampant property damage, vomit and public drunkenness in the neighborhood.

In response, Tunney said he'd introduce an ordinance targeting pub crawl organizers, requiring that they get special permits governing such areas as event size, portable toilet availability and extra security.

But at a Monday evening Neighborhood Safety and Sanitation meeting at Ann Sather restaurant, Tunney told neighbors there's a feeling in the City Council that "It's a North Side issue, a Wrigley Field issue." 

"They don't know what it's like to live around Clark," he said.

Tunney said he believes a permit system could be put into place, but not in time for Twelve Bars of Christmas organizer Festa Parties' next crawl, BeadQuest, on Feb. 16.

Other tactics may be better received, such as focusing on happy-hour legislation enforcement, strict overcrowding checks or increasing fines for drinking on the public way, Tunney said.

During the Pride Parade, for example, bars are more strictly checked than usual for overcrowding, he said. 

"Is violation of happy-hour legislation worth your liquor license?" he said. "If you want to participate, you better be careful."

Happy-hour laws make it illegal for bars to lower the price of alcohol for a limited time during the day, stipulations which would seem to prohibit certain pub crawl "specials."

Festa Parties is not legally bound to listen to Tunney's requests to limit the size of crawls or increase security. Before this year's event, organizers met with Tunney and Town Hall Police Cmdr. Elias Voulgaris and established "good neighbor" rules that went unmet.

Yet Tunney met with Festa Parties after the recent TBOX and said he thinks the organizers will cooperate in the future, partly because of the potential for new regulation.

"They understand something is coming, so they better get things in order," he said.

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