Nearly 200 urban explorers are taking part in DNAinfo Chicago's third IRL event: a walking tour through Wicker Park, winding through 2.2 miles of Wicker Park's historic residential and commercial streets.
Follow along as participants share their photos of Wicker Park's iconic areas - but not before chowing down on doughnuts provided by both Stan's Donuts and Glazed & Infused. Read below for more information about the Windy City Explorers group.
WICKER PARK — Almost five years ago, Tom Besore decided he wanted to explore Chicago neighborhoods.
But the Downtown resident did not want to do it by himself or pay a commercial tour operator.
The Windy City Explorers group on Meetup.com, launched by Besore in May 2009, has grown to more than 3,300 people, with almost 200 neighborhood and park tours completed.
"We wander around the neighborhood and people look at us and wonder if we are doing some kind of protest," said Besore, who works by day as a real estate agent.
On Sunday, 177 explorers are planning to head to Wicker Park — a crowd so large that Besore and co-organizer Joe Steffan will need a public address system so everyone can hear the tour.
The free 90-minute tour, which winds through 2.2 miles of Wicker Park's historic residential and commercial streets, begins at 1 p.m. Sunday and will move at an "easy walking pace," covering a route that smart phone users can click on to see where the group is if they are running late.
To get prepped for the tour, which drew 169 participants last April, Besore and Steffen researched the area on the Internet and connected with community leaders, such as historian Elaine Coorens, whose walking tour guide highlights Wicker Park's history as well as significant buildings and landmarks.
Among other highlights, Sunday's tour will take guests to the outside of famed author Nelson Algren's third-floor flat at 1958 W. Evergreen Ave. as well as to 2132 W. Potomac Ave., where anarchist August Spies' body was put on display in a funeral procession after he was executed for his alleged role in the May Day Riots in 1887.
Besore said the walk would include historical and architectural descriptions of homes and buildings and there would be enough time for explorers to take photos of the historic properties.
In an exclusive arrangement with DNAinfo Chicago, both Stan's Donuts and Glazed & Infused, the driving forces behind Wicker Park's very own "doughnut district" — located just one block north of the park — will be providing doughnuts to a delegation of DNAinfo Chicago readers prior to the tour.
DNAinfo Chicago will be bringing the doughnuts to the fountain at 1425 N. Damen Ave at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.
After the free doughnuts — and using social media like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to share our In Real Life calorie intake! — we will join The Windy City Explorers on the tour, which begins at 1 p.m. and also meets in front of the fountain.
To RSVP for the doughnut sampling before the walking tour, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and Twitter handle, or send a tweet to @DNA_WPB. To join the meet-up, visit the Windy City Explorers event page.
DNA-IRL coordinator Alisa Hauser has covered the news of the Wicker Park and Bucktown area for five years, first with an email newsletter, Chicago Pipeline, and since 2012, for DNAinfo Chicago.
Effective April 1, Hauser is working with readers and neighborhood businesses to organize outings that are all about In Real Life (IRL) experiences.