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Cold and ice force Wendella to delay start of Chicago’s tour boat season

March 13, 2014 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

For the first time in its 80 year history, Wendella Boats is delaying the start of its season because of bitterly cold weather.  Wendella is Chicago’s Original Architecture Tours® and unofficial sign that spring has returned.

This year however, president of the third generation family business, Michael Borgstrom, explains the “Wendella fleet is stuck in our shipyard on the Calumet River on the far south side surrounded by ice that is up to 20 inches thick. In addition, Lake Michigan is iced over, making our annual trip from the shipyard an impossibility.” Wendella was scheduled to start this Friday, March 14, but thatCG80341 date has been moved pending some warmer weather and thawing.  April 4th has been set as the new start date. However, if the weather continues to stay mild, that date may be moved up!

Among the many groups and individuals disappointed by the unrelenting winter and delay are guests on Wendella’s popular St. Patrick’s Day Cruise. “We run a cruise for the dyeing of the Chicago River,” Mr. Borgstrom explains, “but that had to be cancelled this year.” Fortunately, Wendella was able to partner with Howells and Hood, a popular bar located in the Tribune Tower, to help its displaced passengers find an alternate location to enjoy this annual Chicago River tradition.

Wendella continues to prepare its fleet for the trip north and remains ready to leave at the first sign of a let up in the harshest winter Chicago has seen in years. “Our crew works on the boats every day and they’re chomping at the bit to head downtown,” says an optimistic Mr. Borgstrom. “Good weather is coming, no question about that,” he says with confidence. The question on everyone’s mind is when!

Wendella, founded in 1935, operates March (most years) through December and offers its signature Combined Lake and River Tour, Chicago River Architecture Tour, Chicago at Sunset Cruise and the Chicago River Experience Tour. In addition to many specialty and fireworks tours and cruises, Wendella vessels can be chartered for private events. Wendella also operates the Chicago WaterTaxi and provides scheduled water transportation service 7 days a week from the commuter train stations (Union and Ogilvie) to Michigan Avenue, Chinatown and North Avenue at Goose Island. The Chicago WaterTaxi, operating since 1962, will also delay its start.

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