I was driving through Humboldt Park the other day. As I passed the lagoon, I saw a mob of people milling about. Apparently, Chicago’s very own gator has created a sensation. Although Mayor Lightfoot urged people to stay away from the park, the exact opposite was happening. A festive and happy crowd of around 500 people had gathered near the large lagoon in hopes of getting a chance to spy the elusive and shy gator. Whether you call him or her “Chance the Snapper” or, like myself, “Chi-Gator,” the alligator is a hit. So rather than tell people to stay awake, my advice to Mayor Lightfoot is: Make money off of it!
Chi-Gator is an attraction, luring people to the neighborhood. Where’s the creativity coming from City Hall? Put that gator on some of those scooters (licensing fee going to the city, of course) and have people park in various spots as they rent them to ride to the park.
How about a photographer snapping a picture of the alligator in the water and then have people stand where to have a photo taken with the alligator image in the background? That would be the must-have selfie of the season with Chicago getting at least half of a $10 fee.
Where is the call to our local breweries to create the Chi-Gator ale? How about connecting with Midori or any other alcoholic beverage company to create the Chi-Gator cocktail? A green drink in honor of our own green reptile? (A chance to celebrate green where St. Patrick is not the only option.) Our creative young people could invent the Chi-Gator Shuffle? There’s already a song in Spanish about the alligator, but where’s the English about “our” gator?
Izod Lacoste may have an alligator symbol on their shirts, but we can have our Chi-Gator mascot (trademarked of course) superimposed on T-shirts. He can be seen thumbing his snout at all the other historic icons sitting in the background: John Hancock, Sears Tower, the Picasso, the Bean, etc. as he lounges about in a local city park. That gator is a real Chicagoan who knows the best neighborhood can be found miles from downtown!
How about a new lottery ticket in honor of Chi-Gator, with proceeds going to the city? Prizes can include: Ticket-free parking pass for a month or a year; get the boot taken off for free; wipe out your debt to the city up to $5,000; free water for life (no more water bill), and the one everyone of wants: free city stickers for life!
Chi-Gator can be an opportunity to get our young people into the entrepreneurial mindset. Many of them don’t need training in how to be an entrepreneur; they need inspiration. And Chi-Gator can provide that.
Downtown may have had those cows on parade, but we have our gator. Let’s celebrate his existence before he’s caught soon after Labor Day and sent to a local zoo. The zoo? Lincoln Park Zoo, of course!
That gator is the long-overdue mascot the city needs. He has made Chicago his city and we want to keep him here and celebrate him!