Hundreds of people gathered in Wrigleyville Wednesday to pray for the return of Iñaki Bascaran, a 23-year-old man who's been missing since Saturday. Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago

WRIGLEYVILLE — Hundreds gathered in Wrigleyville Wednesday evening to pray for the safe return of Iñaki Bascaran, a 23-year-old man who has been missing four days.

Bascaran was last seen Saturday night after leaving Celeste, a River North bar where he was with friends. His parents and friends have organized a fervent effort to find him, searching for signs of him near the bar and publicly sharing more details about the timeline before and after his disappearance.

At the vigil, Bascaran’s parents and friends held candles and passed out flyers with his information near his home in the 800 block of West Newport Avenue. His father, José Bascaran, said the family was trying to stay positive as the search continues, and he wanted his son to “feel the love and support” from the hundreds who came out to wish for his safe return.

“We are more and more optimistic that Iñaki is going to come back very soon,” José Bascaran said. “My wife and I are very positive and optimistic, and that’s the only way to see the situation until Iñaki comes back.

“This is incredible all the support we are seeing today. We really couldn’t do this without you,” he said. “Today is a day for celebration. It’s an event to really talk about Iñaki and all the great friends [he has], how much we love him and how ready we are for him to come back.”

Iñaki Bascaran, 23, was last seen late Saturday at Celeste in River North. Credit: Provided
Iñaki Bascaran’s parents, José Bascaran and Lucia Garza. Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago

Bascaran’s friends at Celeste, 111 W. Hubbard St., last saw him around 11:40 p.m. Saturday, according to his family. His father told reporters earlier this week Bascaran sent multiple text messages saying he was unsuccessfully trying to get back inside the bar.

Bascaran left shortly after and FaceTimed a friend who was not at the bar at 12:04 a.m. Sunday, family members said. He said he was outside of a Walgreens and on his way back to his apartment in Wrigleyville.

The batteries on Bascaran’s iPhone and Apple Watch are both dead, family said, and calls and texts sent since Sunday morning have gone unanswered. The last Uber he called was for his ride to Celeste. There also haven’t been any charges on his credit, debit or Ventra cards, family said.

In a missing persons alert, Chicago Police described Bascaran as 5-foot-9, 165 pounds, Hispanic with a light complexion, brown hair and green eyes. He was wearing a gray long-sleeved shirt, blue pants, black Vans with a white stripe and an Apple Watch when he was last seen, his family and friends said.

Police said Wednesday detectives are still investigating. Anyone with information can call Chicago police at 312-744-8266. A website has been set up to share tips and information.

Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago

Paola Santos-De Soto said she was stunned when she heard the news her childhood friend had disappeared.

“My little brother called me while I was having dinner, and I froze. I went into shock,” Santos-De Soto said. “I thought it was all a bad joke, so I texted him and called the family. No one could say anything other than, ’We can’t find him.’”

Santos-De Soto said it was “bittersweet” to see the outpouring of support for Bascaran’s search party.

“Iñaki is practically my brother,” Santos-De Soto said. “We grew up together, have been through our whole lives together: ups, downs, breakups, happy moments, graduations. Everything.”

José Bascaran shared a story about when his then 7-year-old son threw a Thanksgiving tantrum because the family served roast beef instead of turkey.

“We’re not from this country, so we said let’s not eat turkey, let’s eat something else,” José Bascaran said. “And Iñaki comes to the table and goes ‘Oh my gosh, how come there is no turkey?’ He threw a tantrum and said, ’This is the worst Thanksgiving ever.’”

That became a running joke for relatives to tease Iñaki Bascaran about every year, José Bascaran said.

“So Iñaki, I know you are listening, and we are ready for you to come back home and ready for you this Thanksgiving so you can have not the worst Thanksgiving ever, but the best Thanksgiving ever,” José Bascaran said.

Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.

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