Let me share the relevant book information before I go into details about how much I loved the party.
Melisa Wells lives in west suburban Chicago, where she blogs at the hilariously-named Suburban Scrawl. Like me, Melisa loves to explore the amazing and unique venues of Chicagoland. Unlike me, she actually put in the effort to transform her love of Chicago into a book.
Chicken in the Car and the Car Won't Go is a comprehensive guide to fun in Chicagoland with tweens and teens. (Melisa herself is the mother of two teenage boys.) You can order it on Amazon here, like it on Facebook here, and follow Melisa on Twitter here.
Although my son Nathan is not yet of the tween/teen variety, I have still enjoyed reading the book. There's a lot of basic information in the introductory section about Chicagoland in general, such as that May is one of the three rainiest months here. (That is, I maybe need to stop complaining about the rain. Except the book also says that complaining about the weather is one Chicagoans' favorite pastimes, so I'm just doing my best to blend in.)
So ... onto the book-release party! Since the book is a guide to Chicago, the release party was just one quintessential Chicago experience after another. (Most of the experiences were food-related, not that there's anything wrong with that.) First off, the party itself was on the Chicago River architectural boat cruise, which, if you live here or have ever visited, you know is kind of a must-do experience for natives and tourists. There was an official tour guide who pointed out facts about the buildings we passed, although Melisa told us in advance that we were free to talk amongst ourselves during the narration, and the guide wouldn't mind. (I guess you can kind of do what you want when you're on a private charter of the architecture cruise. Well, you know, as long as you comply with the laws of maritime safety.)
So, we talked. And we ate. There is no food that is more quintessentially Chicagoan than deep-dish pizza, and sponsor Pizzeria Uno hooked us up! And on the side we had another iconic Chicago food, Garrett's Popcorn special "Chicago mix." For the out-of-towners, the Chicago mix is a sweet-salty combo of cheese popcorn and caramel popcorn, which might sound a little bit unappealing, until you try it. (I might add that Garrett's stores are so popular that lines snake out the door with Disneyland-style signs indicating the estimated wait time from that point.)
For dessert we had cheesecake from Chicago's own Eli's Cheesecake. And I washed mine down with a couple of beers.
Now that I'm done gushing about the food, I would like to point out that the architectural boat cruise offers so many wonderful photo ops featuring beautiful, river-level views. And I would also like to point out that I didn't take a single photograph the entire time, because taking photographs necessitated leaving the boat's indoor cabin, and I was too damn cold to do that. It was a rather blustery day.
But soldiering through weather and making the most of it is what Chicagoans do best (after eating pizza, that is). And I must say, I was sitting at the best table of bloggers at this event. First there was my real-life friend Farrah. (Well, we actually did meet through blogging, but she's my real-life friend now because we've hung out many times in non-blogging situations.) I met the hilarious Cynthia, a.k.a. Nap Warden, who does blog design and also really liked the Justin Timberlake season finale of SNL. Also at the table were Tracey, who used to blog at Chicago Moms Blog with me, and Rita, my sweet new Facebook friend.
Our table was the best! And we had a great time! There were some raffles. I didn't win. But that's okay because everyone was a winner with the awesome swaggy gift bags we got when we disembarked. Not only did we all get free copies of Melisa's book, but the sponsors were good to us. We each got one free ticket to the Blue Man Group (I guess we're all going together), two free tickets to the Bristol Renaissance Faire (which is awesome because my family was planning on going this summer anyway), and a discount at awesomely awesome indoor waterpark Key Lime Cove (where we were also planning on going this summer).
I should also mention that the event's main sponsor was General Motors, who parked a Chevy Cruze outside the entrance to the dock. We all brought donations for Ronald McDonald House and put them in the Cruze, which was packed to the gills with toilet paper, detergent, and other consumables. You know what I learned about GM? If you are an important blogger (which I'm not saying I am), you can contact them and they'll loan you a car to take on a road trip. How awesome is that?
So, that party was great. Melisa is great. The book is great. Pizza is great. And if you're wondering about the title of the book, Melisa mentions in the introduction that it comes from the following silly rhyme that her mother used to say:
"Chicken in the car and the car won't goAnd in case this wasn't totally obvious, readers and the FTC, I got a lot of stuff for free at this event. I got to go on the boat cruise for free, and I got free food and drink. I got a free copy of Melisa's book and a bunch of swag from the sponsors. All my opinions are my own.
That's the way to spell Chicago.
A knife and a fork! A bottle and a cork!
That's the way to spell New York."
Thanks, Melisa and sponsors, for a great night!