Navy Pier’s Spinning with Singles event brings speed dating to new heights


Courtesy Halie Parkinson

Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., will host its third annual Spinning with Singles event Oct. 17, the week of Sweetest Day on Oct. 20. The event features speed dating on the famous Centennial Wheel and a mixer. 

By Kaci Watt

First dates are nerve wracking, especially from 200 feet in the air. 

Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., is hosting its third annual Spinning with Singles event Oct. 17, with speed dating rounds conducted on the Centennial Wheel.

The previous year’s event took place in February; however, Navy Pier Spokesperson Payal Patel and her team decided to move the event to October for warmer weather and to coincide with Sweetest Day, Oct. 20, an annual holiday dedicated to romantic gestures. 

“We will have a bunch of daters who will go for a spin on Navy Pier’s iconic Centennial Wheel and will date for a rotation. The gentleman will exit the gondola and move onto the subsequent gondola and repeat the process,” Patel said. 

Following the speed dating, daters will be escorted to an Elite Yacht, operated by Entertainment Cruises, for a mixer, Patel said. Participants are encouraged to mingle over cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and live music, courtesy of DJ Lovebug, she added. 

Patel said the event started when the new ferris wheel was introduced in 2016. She said they were looking for ways to introduce creative events with the new attraction. Compared to its predecessor, the wheel is enclosed and allows for a climate-controlled environment, making events on the ride possible year round.

“Navy Pier takes pride in that we are a part of a lot of special moments for people: first dates, first kisses, first anniversary celebrations, engagements,” Patel said. “Navy Pier is a place where people come to make memories. We’re hopeful this type of event is helping create even more memories.” 

PR Coordinator for Navy Pier Lydia Jordan-Parnell has worked the event for the last two years and has witnessed various connections between couples on the pier. 

“I [have seen] some first date jitters, also a lot of excitement [and] energy. We see people from all walks of life. Last year, we had a mom and daughter come. It was very fun to watch them connect with different participants,” Jordan-Parnell said. 

Prior to boarding the Centennial Wheel, participants will fill out contact information cards at registration to avoid pauses during dates, according to Patel. Icebreaker questions are also provided to partcipants to assist in guiding the conversation, she added.

In an age saturated with high pressure, split-decision online dating like Tinder, Jordan-Parnell said it is nice to have an opportunity to meet somebody in a setting like Navy Pier. 

Spinning for Singles participants must be at least 21 years old.

Loyola University Chicago senior Samantha Velasco said she is interested in attending the event. 

“[It is] a really cute meet-cute story, [like] ‘We met on a ferris wheel.’ That’s adorable,” Velasco said. “It’s a fun Chicago thing. It’s not like you met in front of a bar. You met somewhere cool and relevant to the area.” 

Tickets to the event cost $50 and are available on Navy Pier’s website until event capacity is reached, according to Jordan-Parnell. Tickets include the speed dating on the ferris wheel and the following mixer on the yacht.

“I’ve got high hopes for the event,” Jordan-Parnell said. “It’s not too late, we still [have] some spots left. We encourage people to sign up, bring a friend and come experience this awesome night at Navy Pier.”