LOGAN SQUARE — About 1,500 cyclists — many in costumes and toting dogs and babies — snaked along main roads in Logan Square on Saturday, but reactions to the Tour de Fat bike parade from motorists held up at green lights appeared to be a mix of annoyance and support.
"Is this Critical Mass?" shouted one exasperated driver as she waited at a green light as bicyclists blew through a red light at the corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Logan Boulevard.
A police officer on a bike replied back, "No! It's something different!"
Unlike Critical Mass, a monthly Friday night ride through Chicago streets, New Belgium Brewery's Tour de Fat's fundraiser parade, from 11 a.m. until noon on Saturday, interrupted folks in cars likely doing errands or other weekend tasks.
The parade ended where it began, at Palmer Square Park, 2200 N. Kedzie Ave., packed for the day with a related festival that included carnival games, vaudeville shows, food trucks and merchandise booths.
Alisa Hauser says plenty of motorists honked at the parade, or worse:
After the parade, a Shakespeare District police officer, one of four cops riding along with the revelers, said, "Cyclists still need to obey the rules of the road, including red lights."
Alex Wilson, executive director of West Town bikes, which marshaled the parade along with 20 volunteers that stood at lights to allow the cyclists to pass, said on Monday that the parade had a permit from CDOT which included permission to go through red lights.
Joe Cassel, a 38-year-old Humboldt Park resident was given the middle finger by a woman in a minivan full of kids.
"You have the road every day of the year! This is one day!" Cassel shouted to the driver. To the reporter riding next to him, Cassel said, "They have the road everyday of the year; this is one hour."
Joe Cassel, a Humboldt Park resident, during the Tour de Fat bike parade on Saturday. (All photos by DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser)
Kathy Schubert, 73, and her dog, Suzy, have participated in every Toue de Fat since the festival's Chicago inception in 2007.
But there was also plenty of support from car drivers. Some parade goers shouted "thank you!" to the motorists, who responded back with honks of support or waves.
The national tour's Chicago stop raised $31,826 last year from beer sales and merchandise. This year, the tour raised between $40,000 and $45,000, according to Matt Kowal, the parade's creative director. All money raised in Chicago will go to West Town Bikes and CHIRP Radio.
"We still haven't gotten a total number with credit card receipts but yes, this was our biggest Chicago event yet," Kowal said early Monday, adding that 8,000 people attended the fest, and 1,500 took part in the morning bike parade.
Headquartered at 2459 W. Division St. in Humboldt Park, West Town Bikes is a nonprofit organization that promotes bicycle riding across the city by providing affordable bikes to under-served communities. It also has youth programs such as Earn a Bike, which allows kids to learn bike mechanics by helping fix up bikes until they put in enough shop time to build their own bike for free.
For more photos from the event, visit the Tour's Facebook page.
The Chicago stop was the third on a 10-city tour. Twin Cities, Minnesota, scheduled for July 25, is next, according to the Tour de Fat summer '15 itinerary.
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