Dibs! Saving a Parking Spot After a Snowstorm

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Man shovelling and removing snow

Ahh, the winter wonderland of Chicago. Glistening, snow-covered lawns, sparkling icicles…and tacky vinyl kitchen chairs in the street? Saving your shoveled-out parking spot in Chicago has become a time-honored tradition called “Chicago Dibs.” It ranks up there with 16-inch softball and Italian beef sandwiches. This is truly a legitimate (albeit controversial) practice that is based on one principal – if you shovel it out; you have dibs on it until the next melt. If it makes you feel better, call it parking spot insurance. No questions asked. (Although the morality of Chicago Dibs is hotly debated every winter.)

While practiced in other snowed-in cities like Boston, Philadelphia and even Washington D.C., Chicago remains the gold standard in saving a shoveled-out parking spot. Even former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley defended the oddball practice, saying in 2000: “If someone spends all their time digging their car out, do not drive into that spot. This is Chicago. Fair warning.”  (Clearly he was in touch with the common man!)

The locals stake their ”Chicago Dibs” with an odd and ingenious menagerie of unloved garage sale rejects. The variety of placeholders is really quite spectacular. In that spirit, may we present to you our Top Ten List of Chicago Dibs Parking Spot Holders in Chicago:

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    10) Chairs and a broom. (A Chicago classic)

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    9) Hot tub – make it a party.

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    8) Garden gnomes – the more hideous the better. Dressing them in funny costumes is optional.

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    7) Beer fridge from the garage. (Can also be combined with #9.)

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    6) That ugly dinette set you inherited. Maybe even serve a nice dinner in your newly furnished “patio.”

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    5) A giant bust of Elvis.

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    4) Anything laying around the house...how about plants?!

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    3) An old TV and couch from the basement. Build an igloo around it to create a winter man cave!

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    2) Rent a penguin and train it to guard your spot.

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    And, the number one Chicago Dibs parking spot holder …

    Stake your claim on the spot with flags declaring your own sovereign country and crown yourself king/queen.

Share your favorite parking spot saver stories and photos with us! Tweet a description or photo of the oddest parking spot saver and include the hashtag #chicagodibs. We’ll retweet our favorites!


Photos courtesy of boston.com, temporaryservices.org, and retrokitchentable.org.

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