Dec 10, 2021 - Business

TBOX crawls again despite COVID surge

Illustration of a red solo party cup filled with yellow covid-shaped ping-pong balls.
Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

This Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of the much-loved and much-hated "12 Bars of Christmas (TBOX)," a Wrigleyville bacchanal that calls itself the "world's largest pub crawl."

Why it matters: The city denied the TBOX permit last year due to the pandemic surge, but it's relaunching Saturday amid the city's biggest surge in 11 months — albeit one with about 60% as many cases as last year at this time.

What they're saying: TBOX representatives say they don't plan any additional safety precautions. Instead, they'll defer to safety protocols of the 30+ bars serving TBOX's predicted 10,000 attendees.

  • "They’ve been having large scale events, some larger than TBOX, since summer, and this won't be different," TBOX creator Christopher Festa tells Axios, noting the event will follow local rules.

Between the lines: Even with local rules requiring masks upon entry, there will be:

  • No mask requirements for patrons "actively drinking."
  • No capacity limits.
  • No need to show vaccination records.
  • No social distancing protocols.

The other side: Chicago's Department of Business Affairs, which monitors COVID safety compliance, tells Axios it "is aware of the TBOX pub crawl" and will be "visiting all participating bars and restaurants leading up to the event on Saturday to remind them to abide by the mask mandate."

  • "Citizens are encouraged to contact 311 to report violations of the mask mandate."

If you go: TBOX tickets cost $27-40. Festa says some proceeds go to the nonprofit Lakeview East Community Partnership.

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