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Bean there, done that

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Twelve strangers showed up to serenade Chicago’s Bean with Mariah Carey’s seasonal hit, “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” all because of a viral Facebook trend.

Chicago locals are bombarding social media with events centered around the Bean, officially named Cloud Gate, is a sculpture designed by British artist Sir Anish Kapoor that made its debut in 2006. The sculpture, once completed, immediately became a tourist attraction as well as a well-known symbol of Chicago and the city’s art. However, those who reside in the city hold a different opinion.

“Tourists think of The Bean as this important Chicago landmark, something you have to experience when visiting the city,” Bridget Ryan, creator of the event “Help Nicolas Cage Steal The Bean,” said. “People who live here know that’s not the case. I’ve always heard other Chicagoans make fun of it, and these events are just playing off that.”

Maria Szczasny, co-creator of the event “Sing Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ To The Bean,” said her event, while not widely attended, was still a fun time.

“It was actually a bit of a small turnout, considering the time of the event itself,” Szczasny said. “But we still had a blast.”

Szczasny said she thought the bean events brought some lightness to our presently tense world.

“I feel like it’s a way to lift people’s spirits,” Szczasny said. “The tensions are so high in America and the rest of the world right now that we need some comic relief in our lives, and these events are giving us all a reason to laugh and smile, even if it’s just for the two seconds we see the event on our Facebook feed.”

The events may be humorous, but vary in their feasibility. “Windex The Bean,” an event created by Stephanie Reid, is one of the more realistic events being held. Reid said that the reason she created the event was that The Bean is dirty, and Windex is the best cleaning product available to give The Bean a good shine.

“What else would you use to clean such a large, shiny object?” Reid said. “‘Weimen Stainless Steel Wipe The Bean’ didn’t have a nice ring to it.”

There are over 3,600 people who RSVP’d to the event and about another 30,000 interested. Whether or not they will all turn out is another story.

“The level of commitment I’ve witnessed from those who’ve responded to the event has been incredible,” Reid said. “In a perfect world, there would be people at The Bean 24/7, armed with Windex for every time a tourist puts their Lou Malnati’s-grease filled hands on it.”

On the other end of the spectrum, “Replace The Bean with Mr. Bean” is one of the less sensible events being planned. Josh Kessenich, the mastermind behind the event, said he hopes that people don’t actually expect him to get Rowan Atkinson, the actor who portrays Mr. Bean, to visit The Bean.

“I was watching Rowan Atkinson’s performance at the 2012 London Olympics and then saw a few of The Bean posts. Kind of just put two and two together,” Kessenich said, explaining his reasons behind creating the event.

Kessenich said he thinks the reason all of the events have become so popular is because of how creative the events are.

“Creativity works really well when people are given parameters,” Kessenich said. “That, plus The Bean being iconic to Chicago but still something safe to make fun of, made it the perfect event.”

Emily Wigley, creator of the event “Dream about The Bean,” said she thinks the reason the events have become popular is because of their ridiculousness.

“I think people connect with the silliness of the events,” Wigley said.

Her event, which features a description that reads, “Sweet dreams are made of Beans,” has over 50 people signed up to attend and more than 500 others interested in attending.

“The format that has developed also allows separate events to play off one another,” Wigley said. “There is a ‘Paint The Bean Black‘ event, and other events popped up to “clean The Bean,” and “prime The Bean” before painting. It escalates the silliness while supporting other events at the same time.”

“Let The Bean Know You’re Not Mad, Just a Little Disappointed” event creator, Andrew Barton said he thinks the events are a way to mess with people’s friends on Facebook.

“You’d say you were interested and it would show up in your friends’ feeds, and then you just keep multiplying that effect. It was incredibly obnoxious, but also in a weird sense, the kind of community-forming thing that Facebook was meant to do,” Barton said. “I feel a kind of weird camaraderie with the other people who got cheap chuckles out of this.”

He also said the reason he started this event was because he saw the amount of absurdity with the events, and he felt that he could make an event that his friends would find funny.

Barton said he didn’t actually go to The Bean at the time of his event, so he didn’t know if anyone was there for his event. He said that he didn’t expect anyone to show up.

One of Szczasny’s other events does not require anyone to actually show up.

Szczasny created the event “LEAVE THE BEAN ALONE!!!!!” She said the reason she created it was due to a wish from her mother.

“She was very overwhelmed with the abundance of Bean events, and she requested that I make an event. I don’t want to go against a mother’s wishes,” Szczasny said. “It’s actually funny hosting both of these events because ‘LEAVE THE BEAN ALONE!!!!!’ gained more attention in a shorter time span than the Christmas event.”

She said she found it amusing that an event protesting all of the events being held at The Bean became much more popular than an actual event she held.

A spokesperson for Millennium Park said, “Like the many who are ‘interested’ in these events, we are amused by the many creative and funny Facebook events at ‘The Bean.'”

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