This past summer, the world's longest pier and the state of Illinois' top tourist attraction turned 100 years old. Chicago's Navy Pier kicked off its Centennial Birthday on July 15, with Fifth Third Bank as title sponsor. The Fifth Third Bank Centennial Celebration promises an exciting calendar of events through the end of the year and throughout 2017.
A Landmark's Evolution
Navy Pier has seen many changes over the course of its 100-year history. It was the only pier of its kind built of the five that were originally imagined for Chicago’s lakefront. It opened as "Municipal Pier" on July 15, 1916, and has transformed itself multiple times over the ensuing decades — housing soldiers, hosting dance marathons and even serving as the original University of Illinois-Chicago campus, known as "Harvard on the Rocks."
Navy Pier's last makeover, a carnival theme, was more than 30 years ago. July's Centennial kickoff celebration marked the completion of the first phase of the landmark’s redesign — one that would develop it into an open, green space with a hotel and new attractions, and transform it from a seasonal destination to a year-round one.
One of the new attractions, the "Centennial Wheel," replaces Navy Pier's previous Ferris wheel. Bigger and taller, it features 42 enclosed, temperature-controlled gondolas with technology that allows it to run all year long, instead of just during warm weather seasons. Fifth Third Bank presented 100 Chicago-area nonprofits with up to 100 free rides that could be shared with their constituents and communities.
"We are so pleased and proud to join Navy Pier as a partner in this historic celebration of 100 years,” remarked Robert Sullivan, Fifth Third Bank Regional President. “We’re honored to support this landmark and its guests, and we join Navy Pier in inviting the people of Chicago, and beyond, to enjoy Navy Pier in a whole new way."
- October 30: Discounted Centennial Wheel Rides - On Sunday, October 30th, Fifth Third Bank customers can enjoy a fun treat in honor of Halloween: a $5.30 discount on the Centennial Wheel ride. Just show your Fifth Third debit or credit card to receive your discount.
- November 11: Veteran’s Day of Appreciation Hiring Fair - On Friday, November 11th Veterans, Active Duty personnel and their families are invited to Fifth Third Bank’s 3rd Annual Veteran’s Day of Appreciation Hiring Fair. Working with CareerBuilder, the event will feature up to 30 actively hiring local employers. Veterans and Active Duty personnel will also enjoy free rides on the Centennial Wheel. Fifth Third Bank customers will enjoy a $5.30 discount on Centennial Wheel rides by presenting their Fifth Third Bank debit or credit card.
- December 3 to January 8: Winter Wonderfest - From Saturday, December 3, through Sunday, January 8, Navy Pier will transform into an indoor winter wonderland during the 16th Annual Fifth Third Bank Winter Wonderfest. It'’'s the best and biggest indoor winter playground in Chicago — complete with rides, giant slides, a Chicago Blackhawks indoor ice skating rink and holiday décor to put you in the spirit of the season.