Park Ridge mayor asks chamber of commerce to address ‘Wine Walk’ complaints

Chicago Tribune 1 month ago

The director of the Park Ridge Chamber of Commerce says she and her organization will work to address issues that were recently raised by the city’s mayor concerning a semi-annual wine tasting fundraiser.

At the conclusion of the Park Ridge City Council’s Oct. 7 meeting, Mayor Marty Maloney spoke of complaints he had received regarding some attendees of the chamber’s Oct. 6 Park Ridge Wine Walk in Uptown. The complaints included public drinking outside the designated wine tasting stops and participants crossing busy streets in areas where there are no intersections or crosswalks, Maloney said.

“The event was operating under a temporary liquor license and there are requirements they have to adhere to,” he told the council. “Quite honestly, I’ve let the director know that if this event is going to continue, they have to be better.”

Gail Haller, executive director of the Park Ridge Chamber of Commerce, said she is aware of the issues the mayor expressed.

“Our board meets [Oct. 22] and the wine walk will be a topic of discussion,” she said. “We’ll look at decreasing the number of participating businesses, limiting the number of attendees, using smaller wine glasses and other ideas to present to the city for next year. The mayor and I both want a safe event for everyone who participates.”

Haller said 350 wine walk tickets were sold online for the Oct. 6 tasting and an additional “40 or so” participants registered on the day of the event. Each participant could taste a one-ounce sample of wine available at 26 locations, according to information that was sent out by the chamber.

Maloney said he had received a “handful of complaints” regarding the walk and saw firsthand a large group of people gathered outside one of the wine walk stops with wine in hand. Similar complaints of public drinking were made last year as well, Maloney said.

The liquor license that was approved for the event requires the consumption of wine indoors only, he explained.

This year, the mayor said he also received complaints of wine walk participants crossing Touhy Avenue in the middle of the heavily-traveled roadway instead of crossing at the signalized intersections.

“People were concerned,” he said.

The Park Ridge Police Department did not receive or respond to any calls related to the wine walk, said Tom Gadomski executive officer with the department.

Maloney said he is not looking for the chamber to do anything specific other than “figure out a way to address this so the rules are followed and everybody can be safe moving forward.”

The wine walk, which takes place in the spring and fall, originated in June 2017 and drew more than 400 people, Haller said at the time. Wine samples were provided inside 25 different businesses that year.

“The chamber is proud of this event and loves putting on community events like the wine walks and car shows because they bring people to town,” Haller said, explaining that the event is also a “major fundraiser” for the chamber.

When asked if the walk was too large for the area, Maloney declined to comment, but did say he received emails from members of the public who suggested that smaller wine walks they attended were “more manageable.”

“I’m not looking to be the bad guy in this,” Maloney said. “I just want the rules to be followed.”

Twitter: @Jen_Tribune

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