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Chicago Scene Boat Party May Be Sunk Due to Permit Issues

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jun 29, 2011 7:00PM

There are some things about Chicago that we'd rather be left in the dark about. Things like Chicago Scene magazine's annual boat party, an event that, from the photos and videos we've found, prove the "pump gas, not fists" mentality isn't limited to the Jersey shore.

With over 600 boats participating last year, Chicago Scene publisher Ted Widen has grown this yearly Venetian Night for the vapid into something that now has the city's attention. City officials want Widen to file permits to host the event, something he said he hasn't had to do before. Widen told Crain's Shia Kapos:

"We've been doing this for 10 years and never had to fill out a form. It's not property like a park. It's the lake."


"As far as I know, the city doesn't want this event. The police department doesn't want to man it."

A spokesperson for the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events said the only thing that's keeping Widen and his floating drunkfest from the "playpen" north of the Water Filtration plant is him getting the permit process started. Until Widen fills out the necessary paperwork to host the event, security and insurance and possibly street closures and liquor licenses, the planned July 30th regatta is a no-go on the lakefront.

Widen also discovered another issue the city has with his boat party. A city ordinance prevents the hanging of signs near Lake Shore Drive, lest drivers become distracted and crash. Widen has a lot of sponsors for this year's party, including Ketel One vodka, Jose Cuervo tequila and the soon-to-open Rivers Casino in Des Plaines. Widen has to give his sponsors what they want in exchange for branding and that means sponsored billboards hanging off the boats. Marine police ticketed boaters for this last year, which Widen calls "ridiculous."

In the meantime, Widen has threatened to take his floating flesh parade to Hammond, IN. Here's what Chicago will miss.