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City Council Begins To Weigh Chicago's 175th Birthday Party Options

Ed Burke

First Posted: 07/06/11 02:54 PM ET Updated: 09/05/11 06:12 AM ET

With only about nine months to go until Chicago's 175th birthday — March 4, 2012 — the City Council has begun conversations of how the city should mark the occasion as of its Committee on Finance and Special Events meeting Tuesday.

Those conversations, led by 14th Ward Alderman and the council's "resident historian" and longest-serving member, Ed Burke, have already taken some interesting turns. A recounting of how the city's last big milestone — its 150th birthday in 1987 — was marked by an awkward reference of that era's highly charged Council Wars, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.

“For the 150th anniversary, in 1987, Mayor Harold Washington appeared on Good Morning America and wished the nation well for the start of the new day,” Burke, who actively opposed then-mayor Washington during the racially divisive Council Wars, said in the meeting.

The anniversary party, reportedly, was sold out and held at Navy Pier. When a colleague, 27th Ward Alderman and committee chairman Walter Burnett, pointed out that Burke was already a member of the City Council at the time of that event, Burke stated, "I don’t know if Harold invited me to that party, though.”

While open to any number of options, Burke, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, specifically suggested "an essay contest in the schools or a contest to have a piece of public art dedicated or a symposium to bring leaders from around the world to Chicago or a lecture series where historians — some of the authors of Chicago books — can shed light on how Chicago developed into this great metropolis."

Burke, whose pricey, two-bodyguards-at-all-times security detail has come into question amid the city's attempt to trim its budget deficit wherever possible, reportedly avoided comment on the issue when questioned by reporters after the meeting. Burke, who has served as alderman of the 14th Ward since 1969, is the only alderman to receive any taxpayer-funded security.

At this time, while no venues or entertainers have been specifically mentioned for any events surrounding the anniversary, HuffPost Chicago is hopeful that an invitation may be extended to Chet Haze, Tom Hanks' rapper son, to play any sort of party that may be planned going forward.

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Filed by Joseph Erbentraut  |