Thousands of Girl Scouts from across the region gathered Saturday at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont for the fifth annual Girl Scout Cookie Kickoff event to get them charged up for the task of selling and delivering the sweet treats.
The rally featured both fun and education, with ideas on how to sell cookies, ice skating, a pep rally, and a chance to watch the Chicago Wolves play hockey.
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There also were activity booths featuring art projects, games and strength testing. At one booth, Girl Scouts were able to lift a giant man-made alligator above their heads for photographs as a show of their strength.
"Girl Scouts are strong because we work as a team," Josephine Larson, 8, of Lindenhurst, said as she lifted the alligator high above her head.
There was even an autograph station, featuring some of last year's top sellers, called "Cookie CEOs."
"You can sell more cookies door to door on the weekends than week days when everyone is at work," Gianna Girup, 9, of Wheaton, advised as she signed autographs. She would know. She sold 2,434 boxes in 2013.
The event was put together by the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana and the Chicago Wolves, who said it drew more than 6,000 girls and family members.
Organizers said girls ages 5 to 17 learn the basics of goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics through the activities and games at the event.
Girls from 245 Chicago area communities are accepting preorders through Jan. 22 and will be offering cookies for immediate purchase at booth sites in February and March. After testing last year, the option to pay by credit card will be widely available this year. And girls are increasingly using social media to secure support and increase customer interest.