Sunday, December 19, 2004

Zamboni blog.

It was an eventful weekend, and I could write about my shopping experiences during the peak of the shopping season, the crush of Michigan Ave. on the Saturday before Christmas, or the Japanese Rugby Football Club’s annual holiday party, at which I saw about 20 Japanese rugby football enthusiasts sing and dance to the Village People’s “YMCA.” But I think I’ll stick to zambonis.

Or, more properly, Zambonis, since “Zamboni” is a trademark of Frank J. Zamboni & Co., a California company that makes ice resurfacing machines, and that, in fact, was founded by the inventor of the device, Frank J. Zamboni, who died in 1988. It’s a word that I’m fairly certain I learned from the Peanuts comic strip, like a lot of people who grew up in warm-weather regions, and who had no need to pay attention to cold-region paraphernalia.

We drove into Chicago late in the afternoon on Saturday, and parked at the East Monroe Street Parking Garage under Grant Park. Until recently, after emerging from that underground space, you had to walk westward on the unappealing Randolph St. or the slightly more appealing Monroe St. (near the Art Institute) to reach Michigan Ave. Now that Millennium Park is complete, it’s a better walk, because you can cross that park to reach Michigan Ave.

First, we crossed the “BP Bridge,” which connects Grant Park to Millennium Park over the busy Columbus Ave. that separates the two. The bridge opened this summer along with the new park, and it’s a serpentine of a bridge, cloaked in shiny metal scales. Nice match for the Frank Gehry band shell that it leads to (see my July 16, 2004, entry).

Though single-digit Fahrenheit temps were on the way – arriving Sunday morning – it was still a reasonably pleasant mid-30s F or so on Saturday afternoon, and a lot of people were in Millennium Park, so I suppose that makes it a year-round success of a park. We looked at the glass towers; no water fountain this time of year, but the towers were still alight with giant faces. We saw the mirrory, silver Bean; people were crowded around it, just like in summer. And we came to an area that’s an outdoor café in summer; it’s now an ice rink.

No one was skating, except a fellow in a Santa suit. Instead of people, there was a zamboni making the rounds, with Santa sometimes holding onto one of the machine’s handles and skating along with it. A zamboni. I realized I’d never actually seen one before, and neither had Yuriko or Lilly, so we stopped to watch. We weren’t the only ones, either. The rink was surrounded by people watching the ice smoothing.

But it wasn’t a Zamboni. More on that tomorrow.


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