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The Original “Anthrax Scare”
by It’s Too Soft
Edited & Truncated by Snatchsquatch, Dec 2013
Two days later a park worker in Lincoln Park came across my marks from the hash and called the Chicago Police Department reporting a “mysterious white powder.” The Chicago Fire Department responded and tested the flour marks with their new hazardous material testing equipment and got a false positive reading. A “Level 3 Hazmat Situation” was declared and a five block area of Lincoln Park was shut down, including the Lincoln Park Zoo after discovering more and more marks.
As this was happening, a hasher who worked for a local newspaper noticed the report coming through the wire, remembered that we’d just hashed though there, and contacted our GM Mudsucker. Mudsucker then contacted me at the airport, as I was at O’Hare waiting to board a flight back home to Philadelphia, and Virtually Hung, who went to the scene and spoke with Fire Department officials. Eventually one of the Fire Lieutenants reached me and they sent a squad car to my terminal and escorted me to the O’Hare Fire Station.
The police and fire department personnel at O’Hare were extremely cool and professional when I explained the flour and the hash. The city ended up viewing the whole incident as a good “training exercise” and never came after the hash for the costs of the incident. It turns out that the city’s equipment was new and they had not finished properly calibrating it, not to mention we were next to the Zoo with all kinds of naturally occurring trigger substances. The Hash learned to make sure we had good contacts with the local law enforcement and to this day the Chicago Hash supports the Chicago Police Department.
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The Original “Anthrax Scare”
by It’s Too Soft
Episode I: The Beginning
Just Santa Hats & Colder Than Hell
Sunday December 22, 2002
One time at the Chicago Fall Mismanagement band camp I do recall asking why Chicago being from a much larger city only has one major event each year (PoP) while Waukesha had two (Red Dress & Pearl Harbor). There was some discussion about maybe doing a “Great Chicago Fire” event or something like that but generally enthusiasm was limited so the it went no further. However in hindsight I believe I had tempted the fickle finger of fate that day.
Fast forward to Sunday, December 22 2002, a brutally cold and windy day in Chicago. I picked the Hidden Shamrock on Halsted because the bar is close to home and the manager, Kathy was a friend of mine so we got great pitcher specials for the hash despite being in a very expensive bar and neighborhood. Having plenty of flour thanks to 25lb bags for $3.57 from Sam’s Club I hurried to throw down extra large marks so they wouldn’t blow away in the gale force winds that day.
A few hardy souls gathered for the First Annual Santa Hat Hash, I think ambient temperature was like 20 degrees and probably single digits if you took into account the wind chill, and about thirty minutes late (I went out the night before, big surprise) the pack was soon off but daylight was rapidly failing. The trail zig-zagged roughly North and East a bit before heading into the and by the Zoo and Conservatory, then back into the neighborhood. A check at Lincoln, Halsted and Webster went East to the beer stop but 2/3 of the pack just declared f*ck it and ran straight up Halsted back to The Rock (our local slang term for the starting and on-in bar, the Hidden Shamrock) so only a half dozen made it to the beer check which was on my friend Jennifer’s rooftop deck at Cleveland & Fullerton.
Back at the bar the pack’s mood improved as the beers flowed freely. Flounder from Waukesha came in early to watch the English soccer matches so was in rare form by the time and the highlight of the night was when Waukesha visitor HO Gauge (Just Susan at the time) was photographed exiting the Men’s room followed by Mudsucker (see pic above). I only took three pictures that night on my crappy HP digital camera as there was no Fujirazzi back then. Eventually everyone left in good holiday spirits with no idea that one of the greatest hash anthrax scare catastrophes was yet to come.
Episode II: The Day We Will Never Forget
Tuesday, December 24, 2002
A park worker in Lincoln Park by the Zoo came across my marks from the hash three days earlier and called the Chicago Police who promptly alerted the Chicago Fire Department who responded and tested the flour marks with their new hazardous material testing equipment and got a false positive reading for “anthrax-like substances” and promptly declared a Level 3 Hazmat Situation, closed down a five block area of Lincoln Park, sent all the workers at the Zoo and Conservatory home and scrambled pretty much every available first-responder on the North Side.
One of our hashers who worked for a local newspaper noticed that the incident occurred near where we had hashed the previous Sunday and contacted our GM at the time, Mudsucker who contacted me and Virtually Hung who went to the scene to talk with Fire officials. Eventually one of the Fire Lieutenants on the scene reached me on my cell and they sent a squad car out to the B Terminal of Chicago O’Hare Airport and escorted me to O’Hare Fire Station #3 where I got to speak live to the Fire Department officials on the scene and explain where I left my flour marks.
At the end of the day it all ended well. The police and fire personnel at O’Hare were extremely cool and professional when I explained the flour and the hash. The city ended up viewing the whole incident as a good “training exercise” and never came after the hash for the costs of the incident. Apparently their equipment was new and they hadn’t finished calibrating it yet, not to mention we were next to the Zoo with all kinds of naturally occurring trigger substances and we learned to make sure we had good contacts with local law enforcement and to this day the number one charity supported by the Chicago Hash is that of the Chicago Police Department.
The picture to the left is of me the day of the Great Chicago Anthrax Scare at O’Hare Fire Station #3 after I’d explained to the firefighters about the hash and the incident was over. They were very cool and even allowed me to get a picture of me next to one of the largest pumper fire engines I had ever seen (I suppose they need to be ready in case a 747 goes down!) to prove I was actually there! Note the date stamp in the lower left corner “02 12 24”. A date that will live in hash infamy.
An even longer version of this post (with broken pictures & links, plus the history of Anthrax 2-7 can be found hereBACK TO THE TOP
The Original Anthrax Hash
It started at the Hidden Shamrock with many, many hashers, including a slew of visitors from Waukesha, on a cold (very friggin cold) Sunday afternoon. Twas a couple of nights before Christmas and all through the bar, hashers were stirring and wondering what the hell had happened to the hare (alias Its Too Soft)!! Twas to begin at 3:00 (hash time 3:30) yet by 3:45 not creature was stirring, nor a hare to be found. Then bursting through the door ITS made an entrance, his bicycle well secured!! And off the pack went – howling with glee.
Many cold (did I mention that it was REALLY cold?), many, many cold miles (and about an hour and a half) later we finally stumbled exhausted into ITS abode for a most well deserved brew. Through the muttering and cursing we filtered the beer through our frozen lips. Ah, but at least it twas almost over. On, on, Dancer, Prancer, Mudsucker, Good Swallow, Virtually Hung and a host of others! And on… and on…. and on… til the better reason struck us and we realized that the marathon would never end. So to the bar we short-cutted, bypassing the long, cold jog through Lincoln Park (which probably included a swim in the icy lake)…
An evening to remember, the hare escaped with his scalp in spite of our efforts (we were too cold to snag him, and he was so spry since he had laid much of the trail by bicycle dropping huge piles of white flour on the ground). And he went blissfully on his way with sugar plums in his dreams. But…..
Twas two days later on Christmas Eve about the time that Santa was loading up the sleigh when an alert zoo worker saw the piles of white powder, which due to their huge size had not blown away over the two days since the hash, and realized that the terrorists were a-coming. The brave firemen in their cool (and expensive) bio suits arrived, tested the pile, and lo and behold, twas positive for anthrax. Alerts, and hollers and over a hundred firemen beat feet to the site, and another hundred of their police brethren also raced to the site of the crime. Milling around, and, well not exactly caroling…
Then I, the innocent GM over the horde, received a call from Necrophiliac, a Sun Times reporter noting that Lincoln Park was closed down and he was on site doing his reporting thing. Said he, there is an Anthrax situation and lo and behold it was where the hash supposedly ran (of course, no one ran the last leg after the beer stop except for Virtually Hung). And the cops wanted two people to verify that it was flour before they called off the alert (200 cops and firemen on overtime!!)…
The errant hare, ITS, trying to escape his fate, was waiting for a plane and he faxed a map from the OHare fire station.
Virtually Hung was picked up by the cops, sirens wailing and tires squealing, as he anticipated that his career as a high flouting lawyer was about to come to an end…
Ah, it was over… or was it? Necrophiliac called to say that the fire dept wanted $88,000 for the costs from the “running club responsible for this scare”. We did have about $85 in the hash cash kitty, so I stopped by my tailor to get fitted for Prison Orange!! Rather fashionable, I must declare!
How did it happen, you ask? (don’t care if you didn’t ask – it’s my story!!). Add the hare throwing large globs of white flour onto the ground from a bike to firemen that never calibrated their new detectors near a zoo (animals have low levels of anthrax) and that was the recipe for the debacle.
Alas, the firemen rejoined their families, the cops returned to their donuts!, I returned my orange suit, Virtual’s peers never saw him on TV, ITS flew into the sunset, the hash cash kitty remained overflowing with its $85, and the denizens of Lincoln Park returned to their cages – and so did the animals!
Many calls and emails from the media and from hashers spanning the globe later, I sank into exhausted oblivion, from which they tell me, I will recover someday!
And a Merry Christmas to all…
Mudsucker, ex-GM and almost Cook County prison resident!!!
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