First impression of our two-day adventure in Chicago (Chi-town or "Chicah-ga" if you’re a local)? I’m moving here.
From the breathtaking skyscrapers to the pleasant people to, you guessed it, the pizza, you could say we were blown away by the Windy City.
The Chicago White Sox Ballpark: U.S. Cellular Field
After 17 years, Coca-Cola returned to the home of the White Sox this season. Seventeen years without Coca-Cola at a big-league ballpark?! It’s unfathomable, but hey, I’m biased. Now that Coke is back in the game, #JourneyxJourney had to stop by and check it out.
We knew we were in store for the ultimate fan experience. What we didn’t know is how unbelievably awesome that experience would be. Here’s the play by play by broken down by seven (yes, I know there’s nine) innings…
First Inning: A Walk in the (Ball)park
Being from Atlanta, Emily and I have been to a professional league baseball field before, but touring a ballpark when it’s not swarming with fans is a surreal experience.
Second: Helmet Sundaes
We chatted with Sportservice General Manager Joe Nigro II about what makes the true White Sox experience. According to Nigro, it’s all about enjoying good ole' family time. Family Sunday presented by Coca-Cola is a homerun at U.S. Cellular Field, creating opportunities for families to make and share memories. One memory that stands out he says, is sharing a life-size helmet sundae.
Ingredients: One life-size helmet, one eight-inch funnel cake, three flavors of soft-serve ice cream, whipped cream all around, strawberry preserves, crushed M&M’s, chocolate syrup and peanuts sprinkled on top. Voila – a helmet of delicious epicness is served!
Tips before consuming: Rethink digging in if you’re on a first date; forget the spoon and use your personal utensils (your fingers) when devouring the funnel cake portion; and most importantly, make sure to take your Instagram pic as soon as you get it! Melted ice cream isn’t pretty. #HelmetSundae4theWin
Third: (Not So) Fast Pitch
We tried our hand at pitching. Maxing out at 36 mph… it’s safe to say we didn’t make the team.
Fourth: 'Share a Coke' with Chris Sale Bobble Head
When pitcher Chris Sale isn’t throwing strikes, he’s posted up in the #SoxSocial Lounge. We were lucky to catch him and share a Coke together. I must say, he’s a very agreeable man. “Are you glad Coke is back with the White Sox after 17 years?” Chris: *Nods yes*.
Fifth: Playing in the Outfield
The White Sox were away that day (boo), but that meant we could go on the field and play (yay). By “play” I don’t mean ball. I’m talking cartwheels, rolling in the grass, making field angles and running from mascot Southpaw chasing us down with the t-shirt gun. My interpretation of a "field of dreams."
Sixth: Mascot Southpaw and the T-Shirt Gun
Although we’re still not sure exactly what kind of animal(?) Southpaw is, I can tell you he’s got quite a sense of humor. Emily and I stood in the stands, battling it out in a game of t-shirt catch. Neither of us caught a shirt. I’ll have to blame Southpaw’s aim and not our catching skills on that one. (Sorry Southpaw, still love you!)
Seventh: Batting Practice
Our final stop was a real practice batting cage! It definitely smelled like baseball in there. My pee-wee softball skills kicked right back in once I picked up the bat. I hit every slow pitch, except one! Woo woo! Emily hit one ball! Woo woo! Okay, maybe two. Further confirmation that we won’t be hearing from White Sox scouts anytime soon.
Pardon the pun, but the White Sox fan experience was definitely a homerun in our book.
Chicago Eats: Deep-Dish Pizza
Did you really go to Chicago if you didn’t eat deep-dish pizza and take a picture to prove it? #Tourists
iHeartRadio Sprite Music Lounge
The JourneyxJourney crew was invited to watch a live performance by singer Isac Elliot in The Sprite Music Lounge. Located in the iHeartRadio office, the Sprite Media Lounge hosts about 40 performances a year from a variety of artists. Isac took the stage while Kiss FM live streamed the performance via Facebook live. There’s no doubt this 15-year-old is going to be big one day!
After checking out the Sprite-green room and giving Isac and team our praises, we were given a behind-the-scenes tour through the rest of the station. We met many of the local radio personalities and even got to inside a few of the studios.
Handstands at the SkyDeck Experience
You’re scared of heights? No worries, you’ll only be 130 stories high with 1.5 inches of glass between you and the street below. Yep, that’s what went down at SkyDeck Chicago. The initial freak out is totally worth the spectacular, 360-degree city view where you can see four states and 50 miles out. How the idea to do a handstand on the ledge came about is beyond me. But it happened. And for Instagram sake, I’m glad it did.
My New Friend Grant
Grant was born and raised in Chicago. About 60-something. Grey hair, ball cap, classes and a jacket you’d see a baseball coach wear. He’s the kind of person who restores your faith in humanity. A good soul you can feel right away. Grant sat next to me at a coffee shop. I was jamming away on this blog. He was minding his own business. Both of us sitting alone. Five minutes later, we were deep in conversation. I told him all about JourneyxJourney. He told me about life as a composer, writer and professor at Columbia University. He showed me a manuscript of a book he’s publishing. I asked for one of the first copies. Fingers crossed.
After our 30 (or so)-minute conversation, he could probably write a book on me. I talk a lot and I talk to everyone. That (pleasantly) surprised Grant. It could be my Southern upbringing or curiosity to hear people’s stories, but either way, tonight Grant went from stranger in a Chicago coffee shop to a new friend in a new city. That’s the beauty of traveling. You experience new places, but even better than that, you meet new faces. I’m honored to have met Grant tonight. It was the cherry on top of my White Sox helmet sundae. Our team set out on this Journey to find Coca-Cola stories, but this time I was able to share mine. It felt nice.
It’s not goodbye, it’s "see yah later"! This was our first time in Chicagpo, but it certainly won’t be our last. Personally I’ve never felt more at “home” than when I’m, well, at home.
So thank you Chi-Town! You’ll be hard a hard stop to top.