Unofficial celebrations seep into Chicago

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Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Lulay

Four green-clad girls attend Unofficial in Chicago in Wrigleyville on March 4, 2016.

By Luke Cooper, Staff Writer

For many students, celebrating Unofficial Saint Patrick’s Day only occurs during their time at college; however, Chicago-based University alumni are changing that.

On March 4, more than 2,000 alumni and friends are expected to gather in Wrigleyville at 10 a.m. to participate in the eighth annual Unofficial Chicago Bar Crawl.

Participants will make their way to Wrigleyville bars such as Country Club, Old Crow, HVAC, Deuces, Stretch and a few others.  

Tickets are purchased in advance of the event and attendees receive a bar crawl t-shirt and access to a French buffet held at the beginning of the day.

The bar crawl is traditionally held the day after Champaign’s Unofficial. The Unofficial in Chicago website described the event as “half warm up to actual St. Patrick’s Day, half reunion with your college friends.”

Unofficial in Chicago has made additional efforts to prompt college nostalgia.  One year, KAM’S donated t-shirts for bartenders to wear and orange cups to drink out of.

“You feel like you’re back going from KAM’S to Joe’s you know, but now you’re just doing it in Wrigley bars,” said 2009 Graduate David Carrizales.

Unofficial in Chicago was created by 2009 alumnae Stephanie Lulay and Mandy Kirk, who moved to the city after graduation. The two held the first annual bar crawl in March 2010. They invited around 50 of their friends to help organize and participate in the event.

“We were living in Wrigleyville at the time,” said Lulay. “We thought it would be a fun way to relive our glory days from college.”

Lulay said the event has grown exponentially since then. A few years ago, the group partnered with 2004 graduate Freddie Kole, founder and president of the event coordinating company Chicago Twenty Something Inc.

“We have a big database, many of whom are from the U of I or have been to the U of I for Unofficial, so we were able to bring it to the masses and make it bigger,” Kole said.

This year Kole decided to independently create the first ever Unofficial themed “Booze Cruise” on Chicago’s Lake Michigan on March. 4, from 12 p.m. to 3.p.m.

Kole said Unofficial events in Chicago prevent alumni from feeling too old and out of place at Champaign’s Unofficial.

“These are opportunities to have the same fun, the same holiday you’re used to celebrating but in a setting where you’re the norm as opposed to being the old person there.”

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