WRIGLEYVILLE — Next weekend's Mardi Gras-themed pub crawl run by organizers of the rowdy TBOX bacchanal is projected to be a fraction of the size of the Christmastime event, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said.
Festa Parties' BeadQuest, which takes place Feb. 16, is projected to attract 2,000 to 4,000 people, Tunney said at a CAPS meeting this week.
The organizer's rowdy Twelve Bars of Christmas, or TBOX, pub crawl last December attracted an estimated 40,000 people, according to police, and resulted in vandalism and violence in the neighborhood. Originally, Festa Parties told Tunney and Town Hall Police Cmdr. Elias Voulgaris that they predicted 18,000 people would attend.
BeadQuest, during which attendees visit nine Wrigleyville bars, starts at 1 p.m. Feb. 16. Tickets cost $20 and include an admission badge, a lanyard, a souvenir t-shirt and "tens of thousands of Throw Beads" given out over the course of the day, the website says.
Tunney said he had met with different city departments such as the liquor commission, the Chicago Department of Transportation and streets and sanitation — and they're all aware of BeadQuest. He said his office met with Festa Parties, and said organizers are aware of the limitations he wants, such as limited hours and a clean-up plan.
Pub crawls are currently unregulated, and Festa Parties is not legally required to follow city requests. The alderman has previously said he wants to introduce an ordinance regulating crawls with special events permits. In a January Neighborhood Safety and Sanitation Meeting, Tunney told neighbors he believes a permit system for pub crawls could still be put into place even though there's a feeling in City Council that "it's a North Side issue, a Wrigley Field issue."
But this week, Tunney wavered on introducing an ordinance regulating pub crawls.
"Don't put words in my mouth," he said when asked about his previous commitment to an ordinance.
He also said introducing an ordinance is not off the table. For now, he is focusing on talking with various city departments to make sure similar events run smoothly. His office has requested that Festa Parties get a special event permit for TBOX, like the ones parades and street festivals require, he said.
But he does not know whether Festa Parties will actually apply for one. Legally, it is not required to. And Tunney does not know the company will follow requests from his office regarding limitations like times, clean-up and security, he said.
"I'm not confident of anything," Tunney said. "As a politician, you're always on your toes."
Festa Parties did not return a call seeking comment.