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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

 

If you were at a block party over Lollapalooza weekend and heard that “special guests” were going to be arriving via limo, logic might lead you to believe that perhaps a band member or two might stroll on through for a little self promoting. But the guests who attended the 14th annual Optimus Block Party last Saturday got a completely different form of musical entertainment when Rod Blagojevich showed up to sing a little Elvis Presley. As if that wasn’t enough to keep you thinking “only in America,” he brought along a Fabio look-alike (his proverbial rabbit in the hat.)

The Optimus anniversary Block Party started on August 1, 1996 as an impromptu casual get-together of clients and industry friends to celebrate the employee purchase of Optimus from their owner, Anheuser-Busch.  “We had Zimmerman’s, now Binny’s, down on Grand, deliver a bunch of cases of almost every brand of beer except Bud because for the 10 years under A-B ownership, we could only serve their products,” says Optimus owner Tom Duff. ” We got a permit, blocked off the parking lane on the street, and threw a party.  This was all good-natured tongue-in-cheek, we love our A-B friends, and have worked on Bud spots tons over the years.”

Perhaps you’ve never heard of the Optimus Block Party, but rest assured that anyone in the advertising community has seen this baby grow into a man. The bash has become a symbol of the Chicago ad world for the best annual get-together for the entire industry nation-wide. There was an episode of the TV Show “Trust Me” that aired last season starring Eric McCormack (of Will & Grace) that centered around all the characters at the ad agency going to the “Optimus Block Party that everyone goes to. NBC-OptimusGirls

Optimus is a production and post production company with offices in Chicago and Santa Monica. They shoot, edit, design, color, audio mix and finish various forms of video content, from TV commercials to webisodes to design pieces. The multi-leveled urban studio in Streeterville has the ability to handle the entirety of a production (or individual components) from script to air, all under one roof. Of course, their client list speaks for itself and includes all the top ad agencies that work with clients such as Unilever’s Dove and Suave, Taco Bell, Sears, Nintendo, Aveeno, Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, McDonald’s, Cricket, KFC, AllState, Safeway, and Harris Bank. nbc-blagoonly

With that being said, attendees of the Block Party are made up of agency clients, post houses, production companies, music houses, the unions, the Film Offices and anyone else in the film and TV world here in the Windy City. And why Blagojevich? “Well, we always try to do something off-beat for our party,” says Duff.

It worked.

For more information on Optimus, visit www.optimus.com

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Itika Oldwine, NBC Chicago Street Team

It’s official, Chicagoans definitely know how to commemorate Cinco de Mayo in true celebratory spirit! This past weekend Salud Tequila Lounge (www.saludlounge.com) hosted their 3rd Annual Block Party in honor of the holiday. According to General Manager Adam Geenen, the idea behind the Cinco de Mayo Block Party started three years ago

Salud Block Party

Salud Block Party

when May 5 fell on a Saturday, and now Salud’s Cinco de Mayo Block Party is a tradition. Many neighborhood locals look forward to the Saturday just before Cinco de Mayo to hang outdoors, listen to live music, chug Corona’s and gnosh on chips and salsa, a perfectly prepared empanada or any other south-of-the-border fave served at this upscale Mexican-American eatery.

If you missed out on their Cinco de Mayo Block Party this year, there’s still a lot of great reasons to visit Salud, starting with their awesome drink menu. Salud’s specialty margaritas, mojitos and caipirinhas are some of the city’s best, and a lot of it is due to the fresh ingredients and the special tequila pairing that they create for all of their cocktails, as explained to me by Elizabeth their very helpful hostess. One of my

Mango Mojito, Strawberry Margarita, Salud, Cadillac Margarita

Mango Mojito, Strawberry Margarita, Salud, Cadillac Margarita

favorite concoctions prepared for me during my visit was the Strawberry Margarita that attributes its fresh off-the-vine taste to the strawberries that are infused in-house. Their Mango Mojito is made with mango infused rum, fresh mint and hand squeezed lime juice and the house specialty margarita is the “Salud,” it’s prepared with Arette Blanco Tequila… and let’s just say it packs a punch.

So, if you’re looking for somewhere to celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year, or are in the mood for a meal and a cocktail with great Mexican flare, I highly recommend you head over to Salud Tequila Lounge in Wicker Park.

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