On the whole, Saturday, December 8th’s Twelve Bars of Christmas, better known to one and all as TBOX, pub crawl went off without a hitch.
There were, shockingly, no arrests related to the event, were fewer participants than last year and was quality clean-up by the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce.
But one incident has captured the attention of the neighborhood: A man at Nisei Lounge, 3439 N. Sheffield Ave., vomited in a box of toys the bar was collecting for Toys for Tots.
“There was no confrontation; he was just sick and drunk, and he threw up in the box of toys,” Nisei bartender Dave O’Callaghan said. “It was probably the closest thing to him he could throw up in without getting it on the floor.”
TBOX founder and organizer Chris Festa said Nisei Lounge did not sign the standard participation agreement for TBOX this year but was included on official TBOX maps as a courtesy.
He also said Nisei was not checking for TBOX wristbands, and he heard from someone who witnessed the incident that the man who got sick was not wearing a wristband and was therefore not an official TBOX attendee. That information is unconfirmed
“We take great strides to make partygoers abide by responsible drinking guidelines, and pacing themselves and drinking in moderation,” Festa said in an email.
O’Callaghan said the man was asked to leave, which he did without a fight, and that day the bar’s doorman and bartender donated their tips to replenish the toy box.
When the story of the ruined toys was shared on social media, O’Callaghan said donations started taking off.
“There’ve been people flooding in with toys and cash donations,” he said. “Someone even donated their Bears tickets for Christmas Eve. It’s probably quadrupled the amount of stuff we had before.”
In addition to donating in person, neighbors donated money online in what the bar is calling the Karma Challenge.
Tickets ($7.50, $25 or $100) were available for purchase, and all of the proceeds were spent on toys bought at locally owned stores and donated to Toys for Tots.
TBOX also donated more than $500 worth of toys to Nisei Lounge, continuing its tradition of giving to charity. (TBOX has reportedly donated more than $250,000 to local charities since 2009.)
The bar will host a party from 5 to 8 p.m. this Friday, Dec. 15, to celebrate the good deeds that came from the unfortunate incident.
You do not have to have purchased a ticket to attend, and in fact, “Your ticket doesn’t get you anything special,” the Karma Challenge page reads. “But maybe, just maybe, when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.”
Nisei Lounge collected toys through 2 a.m. Wednesday, December 13th, to meet that day’s Toys for Tots deadline for donations.
“It’s great; we love it,” O’Callaghan said. “I think people are generous by nature, and this just gave them a reason. The story got out, and it blew up on social media, and people have just been coming through.”
**EDITOR’S NOTE: A pervious version of this story referred to the sick bar patron as a TBOX-goer. According to sources, he was not officially part of the infamous pub crawl. **