Chicago Navy Pier hosts largest trade show since pandemic began

ByAlexis McAdams WLS logo
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
Navy Pier hosts Chicago's largest convention since before pandemic
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Hundreds gathered at Navy Pier Tuesday for a tourism summit, the first large convention held in Chicago since before the COVID pandemic.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Just days away from full reopening, Navy Pier hosted Chicago's largest trade some since the pandemic began.

More than 800 industry leaders were finally able to reconnect in person at the hospitality and tourism summit.

Chicago is the largest city of its size to roll back COVID-19 restrictions.

"Chicago is on the rebound. The community is rallying to re-open our spaces and welcome locals but also those in the drive market and then those from the broader markets," said Marilynn Gardner, president and CEO of Navy Pier.

Spectra, one of the nation's leading hospitality providers, said their Chicago venues are booked and busy. People are ready to spend big money and are looking to book events as soon as possible.

"They will spend money because they have been pocketing it for 12 months, so why not have a good time. Come on out to Navy Pier where it is just wonderful," said Mark Leahy, general manager of Spectra at Navy Pier.

Sky Deck Chicago, which reopened in April, will allow more people to enter the socially distanced experience starting Friday.

"We have been picking up people from not just Chicago, but all over the country," said Randy Stancik of Sky Deck Chicago.

Levy Food and Beverage worked around the clock to prepare their specialties for events, and handling all the catered dining for events at Navy Pier including weddings, graduation parties and more.

"What you are seeing now is what we have been working on for the last year, because we knew at some point this was going to end," said Frank Abbinanti, Levy Food and Beverage.