STREETERVILLE — The lifeguards manning Chicago's beaches this summer will be donning sleek new duds thanks to a partnership between the city and Magnificent Mile retailer Tommy Bahama.
As the "official sponsor of summer," the national clothing brand has partnered with the Chicago Park District to help pay for the operation and maintenance of the 27 Park District-run beaches, co-sponsor a series of summer volleyball events and donate 25 scholarships to the junior lifeguard program.
Also part of the deal: The high-end brand will supply 400 of the city's 800 summer lifeguards with a new uniform.
"The styles they are wearing are similar to those offered in the Tommy Bahama collection," said Rob Goldberg, executive vice president of marketing for Tommy Bahama. "They’ve been customized with the addition of the [park district] logo, some additional Tommy Bahama branding and custom colors."
Goldberg says Tommy Bahama reached out to the Park District about the sponsorship deal.
"More and more cities find themselves struggling to make ends meet," he said. "Chicago is no exception ... The idea of safe, clean beaches is one that sits well with us and we’re excited to help the park district achieve those goals."
A full set of swimming trunks, T-shirts and a "Navigator" hat will be issued to each lifeguard, but not in the brand's recognizable tropical prints. The uniform includes black board shorts, rash-guard technical shirts emblazoned with "lifeguard," "captain" or "mate" designations and a baseball cap emblazoned with the park district's lifeguard service logo.
All the gear also features Tommy Bahama's name and logo on the side. The label's swimming trunks typically sell for just under $100 apiece, and its "Sun Tech" tees are in the $80-$100 price range.
"These are garments developed by our designers that meet the same criteria as the apparel we create for our discerning customers," Goldberg said. "They provide an unparalleled level of comfort and protection. These lifeguards will have the finest swim products offered in the industry.
The park district's 800 seasonal lifeguards staff the city's beaches and pools from May 23 to Sept. 1, according to Park District spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner. The Tommy Bahama gear will be issued to the roughly 400 lifeguard staff that monitor the city's beaches.
"The aquatics programs we offer are some of the most popular programs offered by the park district, and the lifeguards play an integral role in those activities," Maxey-Faulkner said. "Becoming a Chicago Park District lifeguard comes with great responsibility and provides invaluable experience to any young person."
To become a lifeguard, applicants must have enrolled in the park district's lifeguard training academy and passed a swim test, Maxey-Faulkner said.
Tommy Bahama's two stores in the city are at the Shops at North Bridge at 520 N. Michigan Ave. and at 664 N. Michigan Ave.
"We’re excited to partner with [the park district] to support beaches and lifeguards," Goldberg said. "Chicago happens to have some of the most beautiful beaches in the country."
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