Chicago Fire Soccer Club Happenings: More than just a team, truly a community and a club

An example of do-it-yourself Fire activities: these flags were made and designed by fellow Fire fans

It's easy to go through your day to day routine and think that interaction with your local professional soccer team only exists through the games the Chicago Fire first team plays. The competition schedule does provide ample opportunities for interaction with the Chicago Fire and other Chicago Fire fans but those games are just the tip of the iceberg on potentially getting involved. Here are some other upcoming activities that can make you even more of Fire fanatic and an even larger part of the Chicago Fire community.

Chicago Fire White Party

When the Fire first announced they were hosting a party where everyone wears white, I was very skeptical. I had heard of the concept before but for a soccer team? A little bizarre. However, the reviews from Fire diehards and casuals alike was the event was a smashing success. There was little surprise when I saw the announcement for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club's Second Annual White Party to take place on Thursday, August 23, 2012 from 7:30 - 11:30 PM CST. It will be at the MCA Warehouse (1747 W. Hubbard) just like it was last year. Tickets to the event are $50 for a general admission ticket or $75 for a VIP ticket and can be purchased here. The best part about the event is proceeds from the White Party will benefit the Chicago Fire Foundation. In 2011, the White Party was attended by nearly 600 people and raised more than $20,000 for the Foundation.

Section 8 Chicago Board Meetings/Tifo Builds/Tailgates

For those new to the club, Section 8 Chicago is the Independent Supporters' Association (ISA) for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. The ISA is a registered 501(c)7 non-profit organization run by volunteers through an elected board of directors. The ISA represents all Fire supporters, organizing in-stadium support, road trips, tailgates, watch parties and social events. There is no membership fee and no application. Do you support the Chicago Fire? Welcome to Section 8. Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to have tickets in the part of Toyota Park named Section 8 in order to participate in Section 8 activities.

The next Section 8 activity is a board meeting tonight at The Atlantic Bar & Grill (5062 N Lincoln Avenue) at 7:00 PM. If this article is published too soon in order for you to make it, don't worry because Section 8 has a board meeting every month. Board meetings are open to everyone and there is a lot of discussion about upcoming plans and taking in ideas from fans like you. Some current topics include getting supporters involved in the pre-game tailgate, a supporters' friendly vs. Aston Villa supporters, and on-going tifo builds.

Chicago Fire's 15th Anniversary

October 8, 2012 will mark the 15th Anniversary of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. A group of fans are working to organize an event to commemorate the special occasion. Stay tuned for updates by following FireAnniversary on Twitter, Facebook, or subscribing to the ISA E-mail list.

The team will be paying homage in a variety of ways. Look for the Fire count down of the 15 most memorable matches, goals and players in Fire history to come up on the website as part of the #Fire15 series. Beginning with the most memorable games, moments #13-15 will be unveiled each week on www.Chicago-Fire.com leading up to the team's 15th Anniversary celebration to be held Wednesday, October 3 against the Philadelphia Union at Toyota Park at 7:30 PM CST.

Chicago Fire PDL & Reserves Games

There are only two Chicago Fire PDL regular season games left and only one Chicago game left but the PDL games can be a lot of fun. As discussed on the most recent Hot Time In Old Town podcast, rule changes have allowed/made it more logical for the Fire to use their PDL team more like a traditional MLB minor league team. In addition, a small group of supporters make many of the games to root on future Fire players. You can join in the fun this Sunday, July 15 at 7:00 PM when the Fire PDL takes on the Chicago Inferno at University of Illinois-Chicago Soccer Field (Roosevelt & Halsted).

A playoff spot should still be on the line. The Fire PDL trail River City Rovers 18 points to 20 points in the standings but there's a little catch here. The Rovers last two games are against the undefeated Michigan Bucks. Yes, the same Michigan Bucks that eliminated the Chicago Fire first team from the U.S. Open Cup. The Fire PDL also have to worry about the Cincinnati Kings, Hamilton FC Rage, and the aforementioned Chicago Inferno. All three teams have 15 points with 2 games remaining. It would be great to see the Fire create some distance by defeating the Cincinnati Kings on Thursday.

Current Fire first team players who don't get much game time in MLS Regular Season games have the opportunity to play competitive matches in the MLS Reserves League. Like Chicago Fire PDL games, these games are free, home games usually take place on the Toyota Park practice field, and a small group of die-hard fans cheer on the team. The remaining Reserves League home games are on Wednesday, August 15th at 10:00 AM vs. the Colorado Rapids and Tuesday, September 18th at 10:00 AM vs. FC Dallas. Since the Brimstone Cup is residing at Toyota Park now, I imagine it will be on display for the game against FC Dallas.

Chicago Fire and Equality Illinois

Equality Illinois and the Chicago Fire have been partnering up at a number of events this summer leading up to the Chicago Fire Pride Night on August 4. Chicago Fire players Gonzalo Segares and Jay Nolly and other members of the Fire went to Equality Illinois First Friday social networking cocktail party this past Friday, July 6, at Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted St., Chicago.

The partnership was launched during the Chicago Pride Parade on Sunday, June 24, when representatives of the Chicago Fire organization marched along with the Equality Illinois float with its "I Do" support marriage equality theme. The next event is a Celebrity Pie Toss on July 28, also at Sidetrack. Several members from the Chicago Fire will join other celebrities on the receiving end of pies thrown by the highest bidders, whose contributions will aid Equality Illinois programs. Again, all theses events all building up to the Chicago Fire Pride Night on August 4th vs. Toronto FC. A portion of ticket sale proceeds that night will go to benefit the work of the Equality Illinois Education Project.

Twitter

It might sound kind of lame but if you aren't on Twitter (or you are and aren't following the right accounts), there's a lot of chatter, community, and banter that takes place in the Fire Twitterverse. Chicago Fire team writer Jeff Crandall (@JefeCrandall) is currently leading a campaign to have MLS All-Star Coach Ben Olsen select Chicago Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko as part of the MLS All-Star team. Even if you don't tweet often, Nyarko's All-Star cause could use the support and all you have to do is tweet the hashtag #PickPat. Crandall has composed open letters to both Ben Olsen and MLS Commissioner Don Garber. You can make your #PickPat tweet even more effective if you include Garber's handle (@thesoccerdon) directly.

Hot Time In Old Town is active itself on twitter with a formal news account (@HotTimeOldTown) and a very informal, highly unofficial, and much more conversational twitter account (@HTIOT). Our list of writers on Twitter can be found on the sidebar. There is a long list of accounts you should consider following for Fire and MLS news. Instead of leaving anyone out or finishing this post with a list of 300+ accounts, feel free to poach the list of who Hot Time In Old Town is following.

Going Forward

Things can be very start-it-out-yourself when it comes to working with the Chicago Fire and Section 8 Chicago. Before I founded Hot Time In Old Town or had worked with Section 8 Chicago that much, I went to Section 8 leadership and went about organizing a Chicago Fire float in the St. Patrick's Day Parade. It happened and myself, some friends, Section 8 members, Sparky and the Chicago Fire mobile all marched on Columbus in a way that was different than the Fire normally do.

In that spirit, I encourage everyone to think about how Fire fans and the Chicago Fire Soccer Club can work with your community. The idea may not be at just the right time but it might spark another idea or lead to something else. Also in that spirit, Hot Time In Old Town will be organizing a 'long lunch' for next Wednesday's 12:00 PM game vs. the New York Red Bulls. A spot hasn't been determined just yet but myself and at least Nick Fedora will be huddled around a TV somewhere near the Loop. If you have suggestions for locations or other Chicago Fire initiatives, get the ball rolling. Being a Chicago Fire fan is a unique experience from all the other teams out there. It truly is a Chicago Soccer Club and not just a Chicago sports team.

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