Tea Party Reenactment On Lake Michigan
The Chicago Young Republicans, a conservative interest group with 500 active members ranging in age from 18 to 40, threw a historically-inspired "Tax Day Tea Party" at Navy Pier Wednesday aboard the largest sailing ship in the country, the Tall Ship Windy.
Building on the momentum from a tea party event earlier in the day at the Federal Building in downtown Chicago and in tandem with tea parties across the country, the Young Republicans vied most aggressively to mirror history by tossing crates of tea into a body of water like the colonists of revolutionary yore.
"It's exciting, we'll have about 100 or so people," said Corrine Williams, communications director for the CYRs.
Standing on the bow moments before the ship's departure, Williams summoned the symbolic event that has served as a buzz word for opposition leaders ever since CNBC's Rick Santelli initially proposed a tea party in a now-famous jeremiad from the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade.
"We have always fought oppressive taxes, since 1773," Williams said.
Even the names of the buffet items were tinged with founding father fervor: Benjamin Franklin's Chips & Salsa, John Hancock's Cucumber & Feta Dip, Tea Party Cookies, Revolutionary Roly Poly Sandwiches and Sam Adams Meatballs.
While the colonists disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians and did not tarry long aboard the vessel on which they were committing treason and risking execution, the Tax Day Tea Party featured an open bar and a pink-colored alcoholic beverage called Windy Punch.
The Tall Ship Windy set sail around six, and soon thereafter modestly sized crates with "TEA" painted in black on them were amassed near the railing, led by the clean-cut president of the Chicago Young Republicans, Jeremy Rose.
A member of the crew sounded a demilitarized cannon. Taking their cue, the young conservatives rallying against what they perceive as the Obama administration's wasteful spending and audaciously cruel tax cuts hurled a bevy of crates into Lake Michigan to cheerful applause and shouts of "Freedom!" and "USA!"
According to Williams, the Coast Guard had prohibited tossing actual bags of tea overboard but permitted wood as it didn't qualify as a foreign object. Nevertheless, the wood had to be retrieved. Once the crates splashed into the water and bobbed for the cameras, they were hoisted back up from ropes that tethered them to the ship.
As the waves started to rock the ship side to side, CYRs Multimedia Director Angel Garcia explained the strategy behind the tea party and assessed the day's results.
"We're out here today to let everybody know that we've had enough, we've had it with taxes, we've had it with programs we don't believe in," Garcia began.
"And being from Chicago, we have the highest tax rate in the country here in Cook County. I think it's time for us to mobilize and do it like a more grass roots effort."
William Brady attended the event in the stead of his father State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, who is running for governor.
"Wasting time just throwing money at a problem is just not being efficient," Brady said.
A man walked the deck wearing what looked like an Obama campaign button, until upon closer inspection the words "SHIT!" were found to be inscribed below the iconic symbol.
With the sun falling fast, Bruce Springstein's "Born in the U.S.A" started to pump out of the speaker. The beer ran out. The tall Ship Windy tacked its way toward shore.
Kyle Stone, CYRs membership director, pronounced the day a success.
"I think it's a wonderful thing for people who do not find it natural to protest," Stone said, holding a cup of Windy Punch.
"They don't call it a silent majority for nothing."
The Tall Ship Windy docked and CYRs president thanked the seafaring and slightly tipsy assemblage for all their support.
Rose promised that more events like these were on the horizon. He gave a sneak peek of an upcoming party that would derive its festiveness not from history but from a certain verbal gaffe Obama recently made.
"We're doing a bowl-a-thon for the special Olympics! May 13th!"