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9 ways to know if you’re a Chicago Redbird

Macy's and Alamo II clock together

Illinois State University alumni living in and around Chicago are invited to our big Navy Pier event June 22.

Did you know that over 60,000 Illinois State alumni live in the Chicago area?

#ChicagoRedbirds: You know who you are. You’re the one who smiles at anyone who walks past you in the Loop wearing an Illinois State T-shirt. You’re the one who knows Interstate 55 exits between Joliet and Normal like the back of your hand. You’re the one who hangs your ISU flag outside your home on the South Side, or the North Side, or the suburbs.

As Illinois State gears up for June’s big event for Chicago-area alumni at Navy Pier, let’s look at the 9 ways you know you’re a Chicago Redbird (an alum who grew up in or now lives in Chicago):

You look for cheese balls on all menus at pubs and bars.

You have Pub II to thank for that.

You can name all the exits up and down I-55.

When you pass the nuclear power plant near Braidwood, you know it’ll be awhile. Seeing the University Farm means you’re close. Seeing Watterson in the distance means you’re there.

You missed Portillo’s while you lived in Normal.

Remember when The Vidette pranked us all on April Fools’ Day by “reporting” that Portillo’s would be opening a Bloomington-Normal location? That was just cruel.

You missed Avanti’s bread when you moved back to Chicago.

This unrequited food craving goes both ways, since Avanti’s doesn’t exist in Chicago. Here’s the good news: Avanti’s does actually ship FedEx bread loaves across the country. Here’s how to get it.

You kinda-sorta memorized the Amtrak schedule to/from Normal.


You watch every Redbird Athletics game on TV.

Seems like every season there are more Redbird football and basketball games on Chicago TV or on the ESPN family of networks. You’re always up for the Redbirds on your phone, your TV, or your local bar.

You’re still not a Cardinals fan.

A lifetime of “Cubs or Sox?” got a little weird when you moved to Normal and suddenly there were St. Louis Cardinals fans everywhere. But you never broke rank with your South or North Siders.

You got really excited seeing ISU billboards in Chicago.

When the Redbird football team made the FCS national championship game in 2015, digital billboards popped up around the city that read “Let’s Go Redbirds!” An ISU alumnus actually made that happen.

You’re going to our big event June 22.

We’re bringing the Illinois State campus and its traditions to the Windy City at A Normal Tradition in Chicago. Navy Pier’s Crystal Gardens will be transformed into a night of Illinois State traditions where guests will witness the evolution of Reggie Redbird, discover Illinois State and its leaders in times of war, walk onto the Quad of the past and present, and find out why Illinois State alumni pride is soaring.

Register for A Normal Tradition in Chicago by June 8 at or by calling (800) 366-4478.

Related Article: Bringing Normal to Chicago Arts technology students will use virtual reality technology to bring our campus to Chicago on June 22.

Think we missed something on our list above? Add it to the Comments below!

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