Hug it out, Chicago.
Sometimes the city is in need of a little extra TLC. That's why the newly created not-for-profit partnership Hospitality Cares Chicago, spearheaded by what was formerly the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau, is hosting its first event on Thursday. The event is being hosted in conjunction with hospitality and civic organizations.
HUG Chicago 2012, sponsored by the Chicago Cubs, aims to become an annual event to spruce up the city in areas heavily traveled and visited by tourists. More than 400 volunteers will meet at Wrigley Field where they'll hear from Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts before being dispatched by trolley to various community locations to clean up for a few hours.
The 13 projects include sweeping and painting Lake Shore Drive underpass at Roscoe Street, raking and planting outside the Shedd Aquarium, and picking up trash and twigs at South Shore Cultural Center, Burnham Harbor, the river walk from State Street to Lake Shore Drive, and behind the Museum of Science and Industry.
The event kicks off National Tourism Week in a city that counts nearly 40 million visitors a year and ranks 10th among popular U.S. destinations for overseas travelers. The beautification project is really about "giving back and maintaining the beautiful destination," said Meghan Risch, vice president of communications for Choose Chicago.
"People who live and work in Chicago are just so passionate about the destination. There is an enormous sense of pride."
After the projects are completed, the volunteers will be treated to a thank-you concert at the Park West where Chicago band Umphrey's McGee will perform their song "Chicago" with blues legend Buddy Guy.
In a YouTube video posted this month, Cubs chairman Ricketts talked about the Cubs sponsoring the event to help beautify the city. "To make them feel welcome, let's keep Chicago clean and beautiful," he said. "Chicago is the best city in the world. Let's give it a hug."
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