Seniors gather for special Pickleball game on Chicago River

A one-of-a-kind game was held Tuesday on the Chicago River, as seniors gathered for a very special Pickleball game.

It may not be the best day weather-wise for a scenic river cruise, but if you're a Pickleball enthusiast, it was a perfect day to make some Chicago history.

Despite the blustery and rainy weather, about 50 seniors from the Chicago Park District's Pickleball program boarded the Seadog at Navy Pier for a tour of the city's spectacular architecture.

But more importantly, to do something no one's ever done before — courtesy of the Seadog captain, Ken Fukuyama.


"Came up with this idea, come on the Chicago River, be the first ones to hit Pickleballs on the Chicago River," Captain Ken said.

He is an avid Pickleball enthusiast and invited his fellow players from warren park to witness the spectacle. They stopped the boat under the Columbus Street bridge and Captain Ken volleyed with 79-year-old Mickey Smith.

"We certainly did [make some Pickleball history]. And I'm gonna make some more in Pittsburgh in the national senior games," Smith said.

Park district officials say the paddle sport is growing like wildfire and it's not just seniors.

"We're packed. We have a waiting list like you can't believe to get into Pickleball," said Diana Schilz, Chicago Park District.

FOX 32 asked her why everyone is going crazy for the game.

"Well, I think it's because all ages can play the game. It's a game that takes some skill, but anybody with health issues can still go out there and enjoy themself," she said.

So, what do they want to see next? Pickleball as an Olympic sport. And these seniors say they're going to make it happen.