A Chicagoan's Ode To Navy Pier


A Place of Memory

Do you remember your first trip to Navy Pier? We all have one; it’s part of being a Chicagoan.

I grew up in the suburbs, and I didn’t visit Navy Pier for the first time until high school, when some friends and I went there to play laser tag. I remember the long car trip and spotting the (then) Sears Tower from the Kennedy. I remember being impressed with the size of the place. I remember the hologram store and the roasted peanut cart.

I remember feeling like we had stepped away from the city just a little bit.

Later, I took my girlfriend there for lunch, a stroll through the Crystal Gardens, and a romantic ride on the Centennial Wheel. I don’t know what made it romantic, exactly. I guess it was having the car to ourselves and that feeling of ascending to your own private portion of atmosphere. That’s enough, isn’t it?

More recently, I’ve taken my two young boys there. They climbed in the rope course and splashed in the water tables at the Chicago Children’s Museum, then we grabbed hot dogs at America’s Dog and played with the static electricity towers by the McDonalds.

Maybe for you it was seeing an IMAX movie, or catching the Chicago Shakespeare Theater doing any number of their renowned productions. Maybe you’ve taken your own children there and shown them the leapfrog fountains and ridden the Wave Swinger.

Not to be Taken for Granted

If you’re like a lot of us Chicagoans, though, Navy Pier is one of those places that has its own special spot in your memory, but you haven’t actually been in a while. It’s always there, after all, and it’s often packed out with tourists, and you’ve kind of “done it.”

My wife and I lived in Oxford, England, for six months after college. We did some of the touristy things the first few weeks, then focused on other parts of the country. There were some Oxford attractions we always planned to get to. We never did.

That’s actually why I’m excited the Chicago Winter Ale fest will be at Navy Pier. It will give those of us who sometimes take the Pier for granted a chance to rediscover its beauty, style, and enchantment--without all those tourists running around.

And I don’t know that you can say you’ve “done” Navy Pier if you’ve never attended an event in the Aon Grand Ballroom. It’s an elegant, stylish space with an awe-inspiring 80-foot dome and a huge stage, and it juts out into the lake like a cruise ship.

Craft beer, for me, is a drink for grownups, for people who want to appreciate flavor and craftsmanship, and the Aon Ballroom is definitely a space for grownups.

Navy Pier’s enchantment owes in no small part to being an actual pier, to the way the lake surrounds it and sets it apart from the rest of the city just enough to really make you feel like you’re getting away. The Chicago Winter Ale Fest will be an opportunity to recapture as adults that enchantment we first felt as children--this time with beer.

I don’t know--sounds pretty magical to me.

The 2017 Chicago Ale Fest – Winter Edition will take place on Saturday, January 28, 2017 in the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier. The fest will feature more then 150 American Craft Beers, Chicago’s favorite food trucks and a DJ spinning an all-vinyl playlist. Join us Navy Pier for one of the most anticipated winter beer events of the year.


Chicago Ale Fest -Winter Edition

January 28th

Navy Pier

Josh Seago