Monday, May 28, 2007

Chicago's Fairest Wheel

A dozen cousins’ shoes and sandals lie in a jumbled mass on the warm sidewalk as we sunbathe beside the sparkling expanse of Lake Michigan. Its time for a break from our walk along the congested, bustling Navy Pier.

An enormous, 150-foot Ferris wheel lifts upwards of 200 riders through steamy August heat and high above the crowds, with a clear view of Chicago’s John Hancock building and surrounding business towers. For the kids, though, it’s the novelty of flying without a plane and watching family members on the ground shrink to the size of ants.

Younger children in our group rush the musical carousel, scramble aboard and pick out the perfect animal on which to sit; each horse or frog or one of several dozen other creatures hand painted to resemble the carousels their grandparents rode as children. The ride slows and children beg for snacks.

A hundred conversations and the smell of popcorn fill the air as we jostle through crowds on the way to purchase plump, juicy, Chicago hot dogs and tart, frosty lemonade. We finally escape the din and board a Shoreline Sightseeing boat. A welcome breeze takes the edge off summer heat as the engine roars to full throttle and the skyline shrinks behind us.