My kind of town

Growing up in a 500-person community, the prospect of wandering the streets of Chicago this past weekend had this farm boy slightly intimidated.
Sure, I was pumped up to see the Chicago Cubs play the Cincinnati Reds in “The Friendly Confines” of legendary Wrigley Field, but there was some trepidation mixed in, too.
I admit to subscribing to the stereotype of the Windy City as being a place beset with crime-filled streets, dilapidated buildings, and half the area’s population wandering around drinking beer and eating Polish sausage, talking like the Super Fans of Saturday Night Live fame (“Whose da best team in da NFL? Da Bears!”).
Well, Chicago isn’t crime-free, there certainly are apartment buildings I wouldn’t put my worst enemy up in, and there was one or two heavily-accented spectators at Saturday’s ball game.
But in reality, Chicago is not all it’s cracked up to be—in terms of its negative image.
I walked around quite comfortably and quite unbothered by the local residents. No mugging attempts, no pickpockets trying to lighten my wallet, and no drive-by shootings, at least in the north side of town where I was.
As for the architecture, some of the houses and apartments were genuinely gorgeous. The palatial castle-type building that houses the Archdiocese of Chicago was one of the most impressive pieces of real estate I’ve ever seen (although, ironically, it’s situated only three blocks over from what is known as one of the notoriously worst housing projects in all the States).
And the people? Well, there was people drinking and eating in the stands at Wrigley, but barely any to excess. I made friends quite easily with the people sitting around me at the game—none of whom sounded like the Chicago-ites represented on SNL.
Now, I probably won’t plan to drive my car around the traffic jam-filled streets of the metro Chicago area anytime soon (public transit is the only way to get around that city in a normal amount of time), and the thought of paying $15 (U.S.) cover charge to get into a blues club doesn’t exactly appeal to me.
But there’s no denying that, with its combination of culture, history, sports, and entertainment options, and high-energy atmosphere, Chicago is one happening place that’s worth the 24-hour round-trip drive.
Gee, I should bill the Chicago Chamber of Commerce for all this goodwill I’m spreading.
• • •
My apologies to Fort Frances angler Brian Dent for possibly causing him an identity crisis.
I received a call from Brian’s wife last week after my story on the “Bassin’ for Bucks” derby in Sioux Lookout ran in the Times. It seems as though when describing his 11th-place finish with partner Murray Alexander, I referred to Brian as “Colin” due to my having just written about 10th-place finisher Colin Ivory of Winnipeg in the previous sentence.
Sorry for the mistake. Time for me to hook on to some proofreading lessons.
• • •
Congratulations to Natasha Petawanaqueb of Fort Frances, who took the first step toward football glory last weekend at Sports Stadium in International Falls.
She won the girls’ eight-nine age category in the district championship of the NFL Pepsi Punt, Pass and Kick competition, which qualified her for the regional championship slated Oct. 4, also in the Falls.
If Petawanaqueb makes it past the October showdown, she will earn her way into the state finals, which will take place at the Metrodome in Minneapolis at halftime of the Minnesota Vikings-Kansas City Chiefs game Dec. 20.
If she ranks in the top four nationally for girls in her age group at that event, it’s on to the national championship in January.
Best of luck, Natasha. May your arm be filled with lightning and your foot with thunder.
• • •
The first puck (or, in this case, ball) will drop Saturday at 9 a.m. to launch the inaugural Easter Seal Kids Power Play Street Hockey Tournament on the tennis courts adjacent to the Memorial Sports Centre.
The 13 teams will play four-on-four in games running 15-20 minutes each, with each one having to raise at least $600 in donations for their entry free (all proceeds will go to Easter Seals).
Along with the games, there will be skills competitions, an autograph session with former NHL player and coach Bob Murdoch, a beer garden, activities for kids, the Rainy River District Substance Abuse Program’s impaired driving simulator for people to try, a supper, live and silent auctions of sports memorabilia and other big-ticket items, and a social.
It should be a dandy day for players and spectators alike, with Easter Seals being the big winner in the end.
• • •
The Rainbow Rhythmics Gymnastics Club will hold an open house this Sunday (Sept. 21) from 4-6 p.m. at the Fort Frances Gymnastics Academy.
Spaces are available in the general program for ages four and over, and a new “Martial Gym” program for boys six and up also is being offered.
For more information, contact Vicki Stinson at 274-7210.

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