Produced by HuffPost's Eyes & Ears Citizen Journalism Unit
At least once a month for the past three years, Liz Garibay has taken inquisitive Chicagoans on a fact-filled adventure as part of the History Pub Crawl series sponsored by the Chicago History Museum. Standing at the head of a trolley that serves as a rolling classroom, Garibay brings history to life through a fun, raucous show and tell of the pubs of Chicago.
On Thursday night, the Chinese New Year-themed pub crawl, "Eye of the Tiger!" featured four North Side taverns: the Lion's Head Pub, Parrots Bar and Grill, The Pony Inn and the Toasted Ox. Illuminating the history and architecture of each bar, as well as the pub's name connection to the animals of the Chinese zodiac, Garibay educated the spirited pub-goers about Chinese-American history, the origins of Chinese astrology, all while dispensing dozens of other of fun facts and trivia about Chicago.
Combining the skills of a storyteller and teacher, Garibay has inspired loyalty in her patrons, many of whom have attended all of the dozens of pub crawls the museum has sponsored. Welcoming newcomers, who are accepted into the family atmosphere, the museum has had to schedule many repeats of the most popular history pub crawls, such as "Erin Go Beer! Irish Pubs of Chicago," "Drinkin' with Lincoln" and "Booze, Bars and Bootlegging! Prohibition Era Chicago."
The pub crawls have become the museum's most popular program, often selling out in days.
As the Public Programs Manager at the History Museum, Garibay came up with the pub crawl idea three years ago.
"I wanted to present the history of Chicago in a way that makes history accessible to everyone," Garibay said. "I was sitting in a tavern one day thinking 'if these walls could talk' and I decided to research the history of the building and there was so much history there. I decided that telling Chicago's history through the thousands of bars we have would give me access to teach people who might not normally be in a museum or a classroom. I wanted to educate in a nontraditional way that makes people excited about history and the pub crawls do that."
Dave and Rita Gardner of Chicago are among the many loyalists who have come back a several times.
"We bring our married children and this has inspired us as a family," Dave Garnder said. "It's a way of celebrating the past, the present and the future."
Pamela Olander of Palatine agrees.
"Chicago is such a great city," Olander said. "I think it's important to have an appreciation for the past since we have such a rich history. Many times the people have gone, but the buildings are still there, and buildings have stories to tell."
Even the trolley driver, Paul Barile, has been inspired by the experience. "I have driven for almost all of these history pub crawls, and believe me, I keep my Thursday nights open just to be here. Liz has me reading books about Chicago's history and Lincoln, and I became a member of the Chicago History Museum. It's just the best thing."
"Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, and every neighborhood has at least one great neighborhood tavern where the history of Chicago lives and is created in the stories people share over a beer," Garibay said. Garibay's pub crawl series is illuminating that history--one pub at a time.
For more on the museum's pub crawls, click here.
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