The First TBOX Frame - 2002

TBOX #7 – The Triumphant Return (2002)

In 2002, Mr. Festa returned full time to Chicago, moved to Wrigleyville, and re-dedicated himself to making TBOX a blowout extraordinaire! The 7th TBOX featured the first badges, first frame, first stickers, and first cereal shots!

The First TBOX Badge and First TBOX Frame, 2002

View All The Photos from TBOX7 on Facebook, Click Here.

The following is written in first person as narrated by TBOX Founder Christopher Festa.

In the Spring of ’02, I was still in exile in California, until a few fortuitous twists of fate not only brought me back to Chicago on May 8th of that year, but to a new home, house-sitting for my friend Craig in the heart of Wrigleyville, at Clark and Newport. Coming back to Chicago, I sincerely wondered if anyone would remember me or if I was too old to keep partying. But everywhere I went, people yelled “Hey, it’s the TBOX Guy! When is TBOX this year? I had a blast at TBOX! I met you at TBOX!”  It was pretty cool.

The First Cereal Shot Ever Recorded, December 2002 - TBOX
The First Cereal Shot Ever Recorded, December 2002

Moving from 2,000 miles away from Wrigleyville to 20 feet from my doorstep, I was determined with a VENGEANCE to make TBOX7 the BIGGEST and BEST EVER, a blowout of epic proportions. And I might have kind of lost my job because of how much time I was spending on it…

The First TBOX Frame - 2002
The First TBOX Frame in 2002

With 10 people staying at my house, we all went out the night before, where I strenuously avoided doing shots, and managed to get in bed by 1am. A month earlier, thanks to my friends Amir and “Red-Haired” Michelle, we had decided to try this new thing… making badges for TBOX Participants… and in my living room, my friends and I used the hand-laminating machines to prepare over 1,500 badges, then hole-punch them, and cut pieces of yarn to put them around peoples’ necks!  Thanks especially to my friend Kate who ran to Walgreens to buy more string in the middle of the day! This started a long-running trend of me putting all my friends to work 🙂

The First TBOX Badge in 2002
The First TBOX Badge in 2002

Once the badges were made, a question immediately came up… who should get Badge #1? Like NASA having to decide between Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to be the first man on the moon, I made the call to reward my good friend, LA Michelle, with being the first woman to be number one at TBOX, and the first person ever with the Badge #1.  Sadly, despite numerous pleadings, she has not been back to TBOX since, as of 2011. She told me she wanted to go out on top, and since you can’t be #1 twice, this may have been her last TBOX…

TBOX 2002
LA Michelle, The First Badged TBOX Number One

TBOX7 dawned to a crisp and sunny day. As we gathered the last of the badges and other preparations, we began two traditions that would last through TBOX11:

1) Anyone who wanted could meet at my house beforehand 

2) Staging an Olympic-Style Tiki Torch Relay Ceremony starting on my front steps and going to Bar #1, marching down the middle of the street with the torches, singing the Olympic Theme.

This was also the first year I had met Fuji, and when we reached the historic accord in which he would have his Christmas pub crawl the first weekend in December, and mine on the second weekend… which is why it is always the Second Saturday in December to this day.

Future Royalty but Then-Unknown Marina and Jodi Z at TBOX7 in 2002. They're doing the old tradition of holding up One Finger to Signal, "Bar Number One".
Future Royalty but Then-Unknown Marina and Jodi Z at TBOX7 in 2002. They’re doing the old tradition of holding up One Finger to Signal, “Bar Number One”.

TBOX7 turned out MAGNIFICENT. Attendance topped 1,600, and it was the first year we had badges, frames, cereal shots and this other little idea… I had some extra Return Address Labels and said, “What if I print up some fun stickers to hand out?” And that’s how that started.

TBOX7 also had a starting time of NOON, which at the time seemed early, and also marked the first TBOX for some of the most long-time Royalty like Biggins, Fuji, Marina, Jodi, Joanna, Tracey, and Harold.  But most important, this was the first TBOX where there was NO DOUBT that TBOX would go on every year, indefinitely, FOREVER!

Happy Times at TBOX7 in 2002
Happy Times at TBOX7 in 2002