Bicycle Diaries: Santas on a rampage

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18.12.06

Santas on a rampage

Thirty or so Santas rolled the streets of downtown Saturday afternoon. Yep, it was this year's Santa Cycle Rampage, just another example of what it means to bike in Chicago, hardcore.

Well, not hardcore like Portland or San Francisco. We weren't protesting all that much. We weren't all that confrontational. Like Chicago Critical Mass, we were more an example. It was just a bunch of gals and guys dressed up as Ole St. Nick, his elves, a Grinche, and the lone dreidel.

We rolled to have a f*ckin' great time while making a silly statement against the Xmas Orgy of Consumerism. Damn, it was a hoot. We all hooked up at The Twisted Spoke on Grand & Ogden around noon. Beaterbike Dave rolled down with me.

Pete came too. Although he's a bike fanatic he's never done anything as wacky as this. Nor have I for that matter. I must confess I was a little worried. The rampage is famous here for drunken excess and off-color behavior.

Imagine me with a bunch of overworked, bi-polar North Polers who forgot to take their Turrets meds. And with Xmas a week away, I wasn't sure how the crowds along The Miracle Mile would deal with us.

Oh, what the hell! If you're going to act up you might as well do it with folks you know like Willow, The Pasties Lady. She even brought an extra Santa suit for me.

After a couple of Bloody Marys and other prepatory libations, we headed out at 1pm. I helped Dan secure his cardboard dreidel. Despite the balk, he had no problems navigating his tally bike.

As we did a few orbits around the intersection, cagers honked and passersby wished us a Merry Xmas.

Our first stop was Binny's, the destination for procuring a bottle or two of Xmas cheer. The staff enjoyed our antics ... for ten minutes. Then the assistant manager came out, demanding that we turn down the rock music blaring from our speakers.

It was time to go anyway. The downtown awaited! The route first took us to the plaza in front of ABC7 Chicago on Michigan Ave. That's me on the Moose statue! Unfortunately, I had no idea what to do once I got up there. Thanks to Dave I dismounted before Chicago's Finest cited Santa for disorderly conduct.

As we rolled along, the civilian reaction was incredible. Folks lined up along Michigan Avenue and State Street as if we were a parade. They snapped photos, shouting encouragement. It was no difference at Daley Plaza where the city hosts an annual German-style Xmas Market.

For something that lacks any identifiable structure or leadership, the rampage has a surprising number of traditions. Towards the end we all took the elevators up to the 7th floor of Carson Prairie Scott, a department store on State. Every year we Santas offer out moral support to store's Santa.

Having achieved our mission. We headed out to the original Billy Goat Tavern under Michigan Ave. All along the way, whether at Navy Pier or in side alleys, the civilians welcomed us with open arms. The rampage took all afternoon because any time we halted, they wanted to take pictures of us with their kids.

You can't beat a holiday feeling quite like that.
Ho, Ho, Ho ... damn it!

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