PULLMAN — The people who live in America’s newest National Monument spent Wednesday tidying up the neighborhood in anticipation of President Barack Obama’s arrival to formally designate George Pullman’s factory town an American treasure.
Guys in bulldozers cleared away frozen piles of snow and my Pullman neighbors shoveled sidewalks.
Every tree in Arcade Park was wrapped with a red-white-and-blue ribbon.
And at least one family — either out of respect for or fear of Mayor Rahm Emanuel — even covered up their “Vote Chuy” campaign posters in their windows with handwritten signs celebrating the National Monument designation.
Over at Argus Brewery, General Manager Tom Dwyer, Nick Lubovich and Danny Yarborough were hard at work slapping labels on the local brewery’s contribution to the celebration — Pullman Monumental Lager, a limited-edition beer bottled up special for Pullman’s big day.
Lubovich, the brewery’s historian, said Argus owners wanted locals — and President Obama — to have a special brew for toasting the neighborhood’s National Monument status. The 10-barrel batch of Pullman Monumental Lager isn’t for sale — it’s a gift.
“With such a monumental announcement, Argus Brewery thought having a special beer was a necessity,” Lubovich said.
The easy-drinking American lager is dedicated to the Pullman Porters and Pullman Palace car workers who played major roles in advancing the American Civil Rights movement and fighting for fair labor practices in the 19th Century.
When the National Monument news broke last week, Lubovich and Dwyer came up with a perfect label design for the special beer.
Inspired by an 1800s presidential campaign ad, Dwyer drew the bottle art — a portrait of gentleman riding in a Pullman Palace car enjoying a beer served by a porter against the backdrop of the Pullman clock tower — in color pencil while sipping beer at his house in Pullman.
“More than just George Pullman, more than just the historic buildings we wanted to pay tribute to the workers who made this place worthy of National Monument status,” Lubovich said.
The Argus crew plans to share the celebratory lager at a number of neighborhood celebrations planned for Thursday.
To help the Pullman-based brewers spread a little good cheer, I dropped off a couple bottles at City Hall for the mayor to share with President Obama, a noted craft beer lover.
Politics aside, folks in my neighborhood agree the guy deserves a cold one on us.
What Obama has for our struggling historic neighborhood is nothing short of monumental.
So, cheers, Mr. President … this lager’s for you.
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