The crowd was large and lively, everyone seemingly as ageless as the guest of honor, Chicago icon Dutchie Caray, celebrating her 85th birthday with more than 300 friends, family members and Streeterville neighbors at the Chicago Sports Museum at Water Tower Place. The August 6 event, SOAR's "Streeterville 7th Inning Stretch," was co-sponsored by the Museum and Harry Caray's 7th Inning Stretch--both located on the 7th Floor of Water Tower Place. Thanks to Grant DePorter, CEO of Harry Caray's Restaurant Group, and his partners, the entire evening was a festive tribute to Dutchie, the widow of one of the most memorable figures in Chicago sports history.
Everyone's vim, vigor and vitality were enhanced by the plentiful and delicious buffet and passed cuisine prepared and passed by Joe Rosetti, Executive Chef at Harry Caray's 7th Inning Stretch, and his staff. The plentiful bar, which included wine and soft drinks, featured a punch especially formulated for the party-goers. Choosing from among the wide variety of luscious Eli's Cheesecake flavors was difficult and many dessert lovers opted for a sampling of two or more.
Water Tower Place and five of its generous tenants contributed gifts to the evening's raffle. They included Water Tower Place: $100 gift card; Harry Caray's 7th Inning Stretch (Level 7): $100 gift certificate; CHICO'S (Level 3): $25 gift card plus a jewelry set (Retail value = $100); SEE Eyewear (Level 2): $350 gift certificate; The Art of Dr. Seuss Gallery (Level 2 ): Limited edition Dr. Seuss print, "If Santa Could Do It, The So Could The Grinch," (Retail value = $225); and Campus Colors (Level 7): $100 Gift Card.
There were six lucky winners for the raffle prizes but no one went home empty-handed. Everyone received an incredible Water Tower Place goodie bag containing special offers, products and information from the six raffle participants.
Aglow from the start of the party to past its announced end time, Dutchie was constantly in motion, thrilled to greet old friends and meet new ones. When SOAR President Gail Spreen, Grant DePorter and Katie Lindsay, marketing manager of Water Tower Place, accompanied her at the Museum's recreation of "Harry Caray's Broadcast Booth"--they called up the family of a friend of hers, the late and beloved balladeer, Jimmy Damon, to lead in singing "Happy Birthday." Dutchie's eyes teared up when she spotted her old friends, Marc and Maureen Schulman, and her birthday cake, custom baked by the Schulman family's Eli's Cheesecake. Then the crowd spontaneously sang the Caray Anthem, otherwise known as "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." NBC5's anchors signed off their 10 o'clock newscast with a sentiment communicated all evening, "Happy Birthday, Dutchie. We love you!"
Left photo, left to right, Maureen Schulman, Marc Schulman, Dutchie Caray, Grant DePorter. Right photo, left to right, Katie Lindsay, Gail Spreen, Dutchie Caray, Grant DePorter.