Chicago got an early Christmas present from the boss.
No, not the jolly old guy in the red-and-white suit, but from The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, who found himself in Chicago for a book signing/meet-and-greet with fans at Books A Million in the South Loop.
Stepping out from behind a black curtain, Springsteen, bedecked in leather jacket, smiled and said with a chuckle, “I’m Santa! Hello Chicago!”
For the thousand or so fans who waited in line since the wee hours to obtain their signed copy of his memoir “Born To Run” (Simon and Shuster), released in September, and get a photo opp with their music idol, it was Christmas morning and then some.
Karen Horrigan flew in from Washington, D.C., just for the event, arriving at 6:30 a.m. to get her first-place spot in the line, which snaked around the bookstore, down Clark Street over to LaSalle and back around the alleyway.
“I saw him for the first time back in 1979 when I was in college,” Horrigan said smiling.
She noted she already read his book and found some of the most fascinating passages to be those concerning Springsteen’s childhood and New Jersey upbringing. “I loved all the stories about him growing up Catholic in New Jersey and how that all influenced his music,” she said.
GalleryJim Ignatowski from Chicago also arrived at 6:30 a.m. Ignatowski said the autographed book will be a Christmas present for his wife that will never be opened or read to preserve its pristine condition. He admitted he did buy a second copy, which they read.
“I saw him for the very first time at the old Quiet Night bar on Belmont back in 1971,” Ignatowksi said. “I’ve been a fan ever since. Also having read the book, Ignatowski said he could totally relate do Springsteen’s genuine “working man” demeanor and that “regular folks can just relate to his music.” “Through the good times and especially the tough times in my life, his music related to what I was going through,” he said.
Kerry Taylor flew in Sunday night from the Hershey, Penn., area and was a fan of Springsteen for years. Taylor, who admitted she was suffering from cancer said Springsteen’s music helped get her through all the chemotherapy. “I got the chance to see him in concert with my sisters,” Taylor said with a smile. And now the chance to see him here and meet him, I’m so happy and so lucky. There are no words.”
Kathy West, who drove in from Kalamazoo, Michigan, early on Monday morning and arrived at 8 a.m. for the event, said she gave Springsteen a kiss on his cheek and was so excited she had only two words afterward as she saw the cell phone photo of herself with the singer. “Holy s—!,” she said through a beaming smile.
“I’ve waited 33 years for this moment,” an ecstatic Karen Tucci, from Palatine, Ill., intoned outside the crowded bookstore, smiling at her photo with Springsteen. While she admitted reading only about half of his book, she laughed and said, “I’m waiting for the audio book to come out, so he can read the rest of it to me!”
It’s been an eventful week for the 67-year-old Springsteen. Last Tuesday, he was among 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Monday’s special book signing/meet-and-greet was the first of five on Springsteen’s schedule this week. Other events are scheduled for Cincinnati, Denver and Atlanta, among others.