Edgewater punches back with ‘Brianna and Jaelin Walking Tour’

Erin Brown
Madison Jackson and Lauren Wood (pictured), two of several guides, led their group around Edgewater locations mentioned in YouTube stars Brianna and Jaelin White’s now-infamous Aug. 2 video.

By Arts & Culture Reporter

More than 100 people marched in Edgewater Sept. 6  to mock famous YouTube couple Brianna and Jaelin White’s day-long residency there in late July.

The 18- and 19-year-old husband-and-wife duo posted a 16-minute vlog Aug. 2  detailing their experience in the lakefront community meant to be their temporary home before moving to the Loop. The couple ended their stay in the neighborhood after a few hours when a man who had been following them allegedly punched Jaelin White in the face outside of a Subway restaurant at 1139 W. Granville Ave.

After he was assaulted, the Whites broke the lease on both of the apartments they were renting in Chicago and moved back to Arizona before making the vlog “THE REASON WE’RE HOMELESS RIGHT NOW…(no clickbait) STORYTIME,” which was later renamed to “Our Chicago Story.”

Tour organizer Kevin Fergus, who created the satirical tour-turned-charity event for Care for Real, an Edgewater food pantry, was one of many who saw the video and took to social media to express frustration with the Whites’ story.

“The Brianna and Jaelin Walking Tour” covered a two-block area in Edgewater and stopped at locations the couple mentioned in their video, including the Subway and a nearby CVS Pharmacy.

While there were more than 3,500 RSVPs on the event’s official Facebook page, only a fraction of the scheduled participants attended. However, the turnout was still more than Fergus said he originally expected, prompting him to seek out volunteer tour guides to help handle the crowds.

Fergus said he only expected a few friends to attend and did not intend for the tour have the virality it generated.

“It’s been pretty surreal,” Fergus said. “It’s kind of crazy how big it’s gotten.”

At first, a few commenters on the walking tour’s Facebook page harassed the Whites, prompting the site to temporarily remove the page. Jaelin White also published a since-deleted Instagram post asking for his fans to report the page for harassment. The Whites also posted an additional video Aug. 30 discouraging people from attending the walking tour.

Fergus said he is doing his best keep everything good-natured and said he only needed to remove a few comments.

Jaelin and Brianna White declined to comment after repeated requests from The Chronicle. Fergus said the couple has not made any attempt to reach him.

Walking tour attendee Michael Collett said he thought the couple’s Aug. 2 video was “ludicrous.”

“I’ve lived here for 30 years,” Collett said. “The incidents that I’ve had [were not] that serious. Life goes on. [This happens] in every city in the country.”

Michael Ro, Chicago resident of nine years, said he wishes the couple would consider returning to the city.

“It’s hard for me to fathom that much anger and bitterness in a person would actually just make them leave all this,” he said as he indicated the surroundings on Granville Avenue. “Life is short, things happen. It affects you, and that’s okay, but what’s not okay is to harbor [those feelings] to the point where it makes you react in an irrational way. ”