LAKEVIEW — Organizers of the Twelve Bars of Christmas expect 20,000 people to register for this year's Christmas-themed pub crawl in Wrigleyville, half the number that police say attended last year's rowdy event.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) asked Festa Parties to apply for a special event permit to regulate cleanup and security after last year's pub crawl drew complaints of vomit on the streets and property damage.
This year, Festa Parties owner Chris Festa agreed to work with Tunney and Town Hall Police Cmdr. Elias Voulgaris on an official security and cleanup plan tied to city approval.
In the permit application, Festa estimated that 20,000 will attend Dec. 14 event, according to Erin Duffy, Tunney's director of community outreach.
Other details regarding the game plan for security and cleanup will be finalized this week, Voulgaris, Duffy and Festa Parties spokeswoman Lissa Christman said.
"This year's event will have many improvements in safety and communication," Christman said.
Festa told officials that said he expected 18,000 people to attend. But 28,000 ultimately registered, and police then estimated that some 40,000 people flooded Wrigleyville that day, prompting an unexpected police barricade and bus rerouting.
Though the all-day crawl had been in existence for 17 years, last year's bacchanal was the biggest and most disruptive by far, Duffy and neighbors said at the time.
But Duffy said this year's headcount should be more on target.
Same-day tickets will no longer be available to "ensure that we have an accurate headcount the day of," she said.
Tunney will also be meeting with participating bars to talk about safety, occupancy, consumption and clean-up. Previously, he's suggested targeting regulating pub crawls to control mayhem.
Bar crawls are not regulated like parades or festivals are. After resident outcry over last year's TBOX, Tunney said he'd introduce an ordinance to regulate them, but he later said too many people in the City Council consider it a "North Side issue, a Wrigley Field issue" for it gain support.
The special event permit is an alternative.
If Festa Parties fails to adhere to agreed-upon guidelines, special event permit rules will apply to them, Duffy said. All special event permit applicants can be fined or denied future permit requests if they break permit rules, she said.
TBOX is an all-day pub crawl in which attendees pay $42.50 for tickets for entrance into some 50 Wrigleyville, Boystown and Lakeview bars, many which offer specials for the day. Part of the proceeds will be going to Lakeview Pantry.
This year's "Air TBOX" airline-themed crawl goes from 8 a.m. to closing time for a total of 19 hours, with only ticket holders allowed at participating bars before 8 p.m., according to the website.
Festa Parties organizes four pub crawls each year, but TBOX is the company's biggest and best known. Tickets can be bought online.