CHICAGO — Neighborhood festivals are as much a part of Chicago summers as day baseball at Wrigley Field. On Friday, the two traditions merged.
The Cubs kicked off the first Wrigleyville Block Party in conjunction with their series against the Yankees, and it drew a crowd from the start.
Within 10 minutes of opening, the sectioned-off area in the parking lot where the event is being held — just west of the ballpark along Clark Street — was filled with fans.
The Wrigleyville Block Party will take place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT each day this weekend. (MLB.com)
The free event features live music, food, beer, non-alcoholic beverages and interactive games such as a basketball shoot, prize wheel and “Punch-the-Pig,” a knock-off of “Whack-A-Mole.” Attendees can also climb aboard the new white-and-blue-striped Cubs Trolley, which features flat-screen TVs and video games.
The music started right when the event opened at 11 a.m. CT. Rendition, a three-man band from the southwest suburbs, opened Friday’s event, playing classics like “Sweet Home Alabama.” Rubber, another local band, played later Friday.
Among the food items available are Chicago- and New York-style hot dogs, fitting for the Yankees’ first trip to Wrigley since 2003.
Jimmy and Minnie Tufano from Nutley, N.J., are Yankees fans in town for the series.
“This is great,” Tufano said. “People sipping their beers, having their ice cream.”
Tufano said the only other time he experienced live music at a ballpark was when he followed the Yankees to the Brewers’ Miller Park.
“The only atmosphere similar to this is when we went to Milwaukee,” he said. “They tailgate forever, like it’s a football game. This is close.”
Roz Konigsfeld from Carol Stream, Ill., who was waiting for her husband while he bought food, also liked the atmosphere.
“It feels like a block party because it’s in one spot and you’ve got people coming from all over,” she said.
The Cubs initially planned to hold the event on the block-long stretch of Sheffield Avenue between Addison and Waveland Streets, but neighborhood residents did not want the street shut down, and the Cubs moved the event onto their own property.
The Cubs and Northwestern held a similar event on Sheffield Ave. last November during the Northwestern-Illinois football game at Wrigley.
The block party is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day this weekend, and will return July 1-3 for the Cubs’ home series against the White Sox, and then again Aug. 19-21 for a series against St. Louis.