Chicago’s bubble ambassador is on a mission to spread joy

Faces of Chicago
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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.

Andre Allen blows bubbles over the Chicago river (Photo: Kevin Doellman)

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.

Tourists on a sightseeing boat wave back to Andre Allen (Photo: Kevin Doellman)

“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.


Andre Allen waves to a sightseeing boat as it passes by (Photo: Kevin Doellman)

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