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Pingpong Follows Cows in Chicago

August 5, 2000

CHICAGO (AP) _ The fiberglass cows that grazed all over downtown last year made some sense in a city once famous for stockyards, even if they were painted in everything from Hawaiian shirts to bottle caps.

But pingpong tables? Ever tried to play pingpong in a Windy City?

Throughout Chicago _ indoors and outside _ full-size pingpong tables have been set up in 150 city parks and 150 other places, from downtown hotels to O’Hare International Airport.

Chicago Ping Pong Festival 2000, running through Sept. 24, has begun.

The city is spending about $100,000 of the festival just to let people play for the fun of it. The tables, paddles, nets and balls were donated.

It was the success of last year’s Cows on Parade exhibit that sold city officials on pingpong, said city Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Lois Weisberg.

``This time, no one said I was crazy,″ she said. ``People saw what a great success the cows were and were afraid to say no to me.″

Public reaction seems to always refer to the cows.

``They’re no cows, that’s for sure,″ said Denise Milito, owner of two businesses at Navy Pier.

``I think it’s great, it’s better than the cows,″ said Matt Naglak, 16, of Chicago, who played a game of pingpong with Haamid Johnson, 15, also of Chicago.

``I like the cows better,″ said Johnson.

Diane Dobberke was disappointed that, unlike the cows, the tables weren’t being used as canvases for colorful, whimsical decorations.

``What’s the point?″ asked the visitor from Appleton, Wis.

Dobberke was looking for something a little funnier.

``I heard some city was going to have pigs,″ she said. ``I’d like to see that.″

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On the Net:

Festival Web site: http://www.chicagopingpong2000.com/