In the summer, tour boats on the Chicago river pass through a magic cloud of bubbles tumbling from the Columbus Drive bridge. Up above, a man on a mission to spread joy waves and welcomes them to Chicago. Here’s his story, in his own words.
Andre Allen, “Bubble Guy” of downtown Chicago
This is my thing. I spread joy.
Now, you see a lot of homeless guys out here, you got some that are singing, beat on drums, dance. This is my thing right here: I blow bubbles, cuz everybody loves bubbles.
Jim Collins, Shoreline Sightseeing
I give tours. I work for Shoreline here, and anytime it’s nice and sunny out, Andre’s up there. And as the tour boats go by, he yells down ‘welcome to Chicago.’
I think he is an ambassador to the city. You know, many, many visitors get to see him do that, and I think it gives a face of Chicago that’s as friendly as it really is.
“Bubble Guy” Andre Allen
When I started it, I was sleeping over there under Wacker Drive before I started in the shelter. One day I found one bubble thing on the ground, and I would just start playing with it. I wasn’t trying to entertain nobody or nothing, but since I was on the bridge lots of people saw it. A lot of people are saying now, “we love your bubbles.”
All that, and I still come out and do my thing right here. Cuz it it makes me happy that I can make everybody else happy. I’m spreading joy, that’s what i’m doing.