Dispatches from the pants-free 'L' ride

January 09, 2012|By Tracy Swartz, RedEye

George Vega and Erik Tetlak were hanging out—literally—at the Bryn Mawr stop Sunday waiting for a southbound Red Line train.

Both were wearing boxer-briefs instead of pants as they participated in the No Pants Subway Ride, an annual event in large cities across the nation that encourages riders to take off their pants and ride the train.

The Chicago ride drew 300 pantsless riders, compared to thousands of riders in New York, the birthplace of the event that began as an improv group prank, said event organizer Bradley Wray, 27, of Mount Prospect.

The CTA does not have any rule against the No Pants Subway Ride, but riders had to have their genitals and buttocks covered.

Still, some participants did get in a pickle, though the CTA said it was not because of their attire. A CTA spokeswoman said a group of participants at the Roosevelt stop were asked to leave because they were blocking entrances and exits to the mezzanine level, which "posed a potential safety issue for CTA passengers."

Otherwise, it was a good day to go pantsless. The temperature was about 39 degrees for the two-plus hours participants rode the train and posed at stops sans pants. Last year's temperature hovered at about 28 degrees.

Vega, of Lincoln Square, participated in last year's event and said the windchill was rough then. The toughest thing about prepping for this year's event, he said, was trying to figure out which underwear to wear.

"I had a pair of Captain America briefs—really funny but really brief," said Vega, 21.

Instead, Vega donned a pair of maroon cotton Dockers boxers to match his green T-shirt and black jacket.

He convinced a few of his Lane Tech High School buddies to take their pants off as well. Tetlak, of Logan Square, said it didn't take much persuasion.

"It's amazing out," said Tetlak, 21, who wore black boxer briefs and a hoodie. "What better way to spend the day than without pants?"

Going Public caught up with the pair preening at the Bryn Mawr stop before boarding the Red Line train to the Roosevelt stop.

Pantsless riders were encouraged to ride the train to an assigned stop, get off and pose like it's no big deal to be wearing underwear on the CTA.

Vega wasn't concerned about his underwear, but rather another set of clothing.

"The only problem was I forgot to double layer on socks," Vega said. "I can't feel my toes."

Get in the Loop

Starting this week, 18 CTA bus routes that stop in the downtown area near Adams and Monroe Streets at Wacker Drive will undergo service changes as the Wacker Drive construction project continues. Go to transitchicago.com for more information and a list of routes.

STATIONARY

GP will visit a different CTA station, picked at random, each week and write dispatches from the stop. (Hence the title "Stationary.") E-mail me at tswartz@tribune.com or tweet me @tracyswartz and tell me what I should look out for at each stop.

First up: Harlem Blue Line.

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