Not often you get to throw President and Chicago Boat Show into the same sentence, but here goes.
The last major public celebration of President Barack Obama’s two terms will be Tuesday night at McCormick Place East when some 13,000 ticketed guests are expected the night before the Chicago Boat, RV & Strictly Sail Show opens at McCormick Place South.
The Boat Show runs Wednesday through Sunday.
Asked if there was any chance Obama would tour the Boat Show, show manager Keith Ogulnick said, “It would be lovely, but my sense is he is flying right out.’’
The President’s big show should not majorly impact the Boat Show, other than shutting off the east parking lot on Tuesday, the day before the show opens.
Thursday I toured show set-up as some of the bigger powerboats moved in. It was a stark reminder how much major shows, trade unions and massive gatherings matter in Chicago.
There was Mike Nigre of Teamsters Local 727 directing a crane operator on placement of a Super Air Nautique. Actually, there were cranes situating big yachts all over. Big tracker and trailer rigs pulled in other boats.
Carpenters and carpet layers worked to fancy up the platforms by the back of boats where show-goers will stash their shoes before walking through yachts in a long show tradition. Dave Wheeler power-buffed a yacht at the Spring Brook Marina booth.
There was a bustle in the air.
“There’s been a turnaround for the last two years,’’ said , general manager of Spring Brook, fresh off being the world leader for Prestige Yachts.
The big draw for Spring Brook will be the Prestige 500 S. It will have a waiting line of an hour on the weekend, Stenzel said.
The hubbub Thursday was also reminder that the country seems to have crawled out of the Great Recession. There were years when I thought I might be attending my last Boat Show, but the boating industry has come back and it shows at McCormick Place the last couple years.
“If they show went away, it would be disastrous for us,’’ Stenzel said. “Nobody wants to buy a million-dollar boat from a brochure.’’
“I anticipate another three to four years of growth,” said Ogulnick, who noted show floor space is expanding again this year.
Big boats are making a major comeback with Riviera, Sabre and Carver coming back. Engine companies are back at the show.
Go-fast boats are building up, too. “Before the recession, that was a prominent boat in this market,” Ogulnick said.
MasterCraft is unveiling a new boat at the show on Wednesday.
Spring Brook has show firsts with a 42-foot Prestige (a value boat for families) and a 46-foot Leader, which Stenzel thinks has a great layout for the Chicago market because of the exterior entertaining space, particularly suited for the shorter boating season in Chicago.
The sail portion of the show seems to be fitting better with the power boats now than in the first couple years the two shows were combined.
“They see it as an opportunity,’’ Ogulnick said. “All we are doing is promoting a lifestyle in the outdoors.”
Click here for information on the Boat Show.