On Friday, despite heavy thunderstorms more than 200,000 revelers gathered in Chicago's Loop for Looptopia. Chicago's all night party-goers proved indomitable as they huddled under umbrellas and awnings. My raincoat got soaked to the pelt as I waited it out, watching the sky shed rain in sheets.
At last, the front blew over and the festivities were on. Fire dancers, performance artists, musicians performed all over the downtown. My favorite was the Hoe-Down in Daley Plaza. Beneath the cross-eyed gaze of the Picasso, a motley crowd of about 100 people danced the "Virginia Reel" and "Dip the Oyster" accompanied by a snappy blue grass band who kept it coming. Wet and bedraggled, the newbie dancers, all strangers to each other, sashayed and do-see-doed to their hearts content.
By happy coincidence, I ran into Ty Tabing the maestro of Looptopia as we were both cutting through Macy's. He was undaunted by the bad weather because his 20-something crowd was toughing it out Woodstock-style and the families with young kids were starting to show up, as were Loop residents. Tabing is a force of nature in Chicago. He's one of a type--catalytic personalities essential to a RenGen city. His story is in my book. I continue to marvel at his ability to take on large-scale projects and make a difference people can see and feel in a city still, remarkably, coming into its own.