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A Blizzard Bar Crawl? West Loopers Plan To Brave Brutal Storm To Raise Money For Dog Park

Meteorologists have warned people to stay inside, but a group of West Loopers plans to bundle up and walk to a few bars in the neighborhood anyway.

West Loop residents Joe Havel, Kelly Reed, John Reed, Laura Perlman and Pam Havel gather on January 28, 2021 for a snow storm pub meet up.
Joe Havel
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WEST LOOP — A group of West Loop residents say they’ll brave the snow and cold for a pub crawl during Thursday night’s blizzard.

The Festivus Eve Blizzard Pub Crawl, named for the famous celebration from “Seinfeld,” will start 6 p.m Thursday at Third Rail Tavern, 1133 W. Madison St. The group will make their way to another nearby bar every hour with the goal of hitting up three or four spots along Madison Street by the end of the night.

The city will be under a winter storm watch and hazardous weather outlook during that time, as a severe winter storm that could turn into a blizzard is expected to hit Thursday night and last into Friday morning. Meteorologists have warned that snow, 55 mph wind gusts and cold could make for dangerous weather, with it feeling as chilly as 35 below zero at some points.

Meteorologists have warned people could experience frostbite, hypothermia and other potentially serious cold-related illnesses if they venture outside during the storm, and they’ve asked people to stay inside and delay travel due to the risks.

Joe Havel, who’s organizing the crawl, said it isn’t his first rodeo getting out in the midst of a brutal storm. His first blizzard meetup was during the Snowmageddon of 2011, which brought more than 20 inches of snow over three days, left hundreds of people stranded in their cars on Lake Shore Drive and is thought to have contributed to people dying from crashes, shoveling snow and going out to see the storm.

“That was an epic storm. We met up with some of our neighbors that night … only one place open at the time and we all stayed there and had a blast. It took us probably a half hour to walk all the way home that day,” Havel said.

Havel has organized several snowstorm meetups since then but is hoping to make this one mobile.

Havel, who’s also president of the Mary Bartelme Park Advisory Council, said there will also be a tip jar to collect donations for the Mary Bartelme dog park, which is maintained by the council.

Havel hopes to keep the walks in between bars pretty short, which he says will be the best part of the crawl.

“You might have a snowball fight on the way to the next spot. … I mean, that’s what you really remember, especially if the winds are gonna be kicking up at 60 miles an hour, so it’s gonna be interesting,” Havel said.

Thirteen people have said they’ll go, and another 14 are “maybes” on the community Facebook group Real West Loop, but anyone is welcome to join.

One of those is Julie Darling, a West Loop resident and West Loop Community Organization board member. Darling attended a snowstorm pub meetup organized by Havel a couple years ago and is ready for another.

The crawl will bring business to local bars that might not have business otherwise, Darling said. Plus, it will be a great time to connect with neighbors, Havel said.

“Unless you got a fireplace at home. Why would you sit at home by yourself? I think that’s the biggest piece of it is enjoy[ing] it with other people,” Darling said.

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