When you think of Christmas, the first thing that comes to your mind probably isn’t cereal. And with another crazy winter being predicted, you most definitely aren’t planning a camping trip. Unless, of course, you are thinking about TBOX 2011. The Superbowl of Festa Parties pub crawls (other crawls include BeadQuest, Cover Your Bases, and the 3-Legged Pub Crawl) is back for its 16th year, and taking place on Saturday, December 10th. And this year’s theme? Camp TBOX!
TBOX, or Twelve Bars Of Xmas, originally began a small and intimate tour of 12 bars in 1996 that Chicagoan Christopher Festa put together to celebrate Christmas with a few friends. Now, with people traveling in from all around Chicagoland, as well as 40 states and over a dozen countries, this year’s attendance is expected to be well over 10,000, unofficially making it the world’s largest pub crawl. For those traveling from out of town, and even for those who aren’t, the Hyatt Regency Chicago is the official hotel partner of TBOX 2011, reserving a block of rooms with a special rate for TBOX participants.
Despite the fact that its name mentions only twelve bars, there are actually 36 Wrigleyville-area bars participating, each reserving their establishment during the day for this event. Starting at 8am with opening ceremonies and the cutting of the wire, the crawl goes all the way to bar closing time (over 19 hours!), and those with the endurance to last until the end will be rewarded with a second piece of wire, to prove that they went “Wire to Wire”. More than 120,000 stickers will be distributed throughout the day and over 20,000 boxes of cereal will be shared. You may be asking yourself, “What is this I keep hearing about cereal, and cereal shots?” Well, to fully understand, you have to experience it for yourself (Mr. Festa even distributes several inaugural shots to “TBOX Virgins”), but you can read the origins of the cereal shot here.
To help keep crowds at each pub at a reasonable level, everyone will be broken up into teams, or this year, “bunks”, each going along with the camp and cereal theme. The six bunk names include: Bunk #1 – The Crunchy Captains, Bunk #2 – The Kooky Cocoas, Bunk #3 – The Loopy Froots, Bunk #4 – The Trix-A-Canoes, Bunk #5 – The Apple Jacks & Jills, and Bunk #6 – The Fiber Flies. Each team will be given their own schedule with a breakdown of bars available during twelve one-hour time slots, thus allowing you to go to the “Twelve Bars Of Xmas.” Also, you will be able to be on the teams with your friends so that you may crawl and collect stickers and cereal with them. But to prevent TBOX crashers, this year a private security firm, Safeguard Resources, has been hired, which will have over 40 security agents stationed along the sidewalks outside every bar of TBOX, with the intent of keeping everyone safe, as well as preventing anyone without a badge from entering any of the bars between 9am and 9pm. If you are doing Facebook check-ins to make your non-participating friends jealous enough to want to join, they will be able to go to one of four stations around Wrigley to buy a badge for the day.
Dressing up is encouraged, whether your costume be Christmas-themed (Santa and his reindeer have been spotted on several occasions) or camp-related (the 50 members of the TBOX Royal Court will be giving out stickers in their camp costumes). Although there is plenty to go around, the crawl is BYOC (bring your own cereal). Tickets are currently on sale here for the price of $30. Not only does this allow you access into the bars offering great specials from sponsors Miller Lite and Jagermeister, it also includes a souvenir t-shirt, drawstring gym bag, souvenir badge and lanyard, and coupons from participating establishments. Still not enough to encourage you to buy a ticket? With the purchase of a badge, you’ll be entered automatically in raffles for gift certificates all year, so the sooner you purchase, the more opportunities you have to win. Want more reasons?? Once again, Festa Parties will also be making a cash donation to the Chicago Dance Marathon benefiting Children’s Memorial Hospital!
If you need a little TBOX fix before the big day, you can check out previous photos and videos of Festa Parties events here. For a chance to be included in next year’s photo gallery, be sure to take pictures inside all the frames at each of the bars.
Since this is an all day event, we suggest you follow a few simple guidelines to get you through the day. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint!
- With every beer, have a water. It is important to stay hydrated! Plus it helps prevent those nasty hangovers in the morning.
- Eat often. Even if it is just a little bit at a time. Ian’s Pizza makes for an excellent pit stop, along with the assortment of bar foods available.