For all you moms waiting for PIR, let me tell you it is absolutely the best day of your lives and worth every anxious second you have spent worrying if your son or daughter would get to that day. It is a wonderful, moving ceremony especially when the divisions come in. And the performing units are fantastic. Just a few helpful hints for those getting ready to make plans. We stayed in Gurnee which is just two exits off 94 from the base. It has a mall, movie theatre, plenty of hotels and just about any restaurant you can imagine. We opted for Giordano's deep dish pizza on Grand Avenue. There were plenty of other navy families there to share the joy. Then it was off to a movie and back to base. They absolutely don't want to be late for their return so my son was pushing us to have him back by 7 and apparently every other recruit did the same thing. Going into Chicago will take at least an hour each way.Don't go to the NEX right after graduation, it will eat up your time. You can drop your recruit off before they have to be back to their ships and shop then. If you want a spot on the floor at PIR you have to get there at 6:30. We stopped for breakfast and arrived at 7:15 and had to sit up in the balcony area. Actually I think we saw more from there. They allow you to sit right in front of your son or daughter's division and sitting higher allows you to spot them. If your recruit is Grad N Go, get the number for the USO at Midway or OHare and call right before you arrive and have your recruit paged..they will meet you at the ticket counter and get a pass so you can wait with them until their flight leaves. They cannot bring electronics back to base so you will have to bring their cell phones, lap tops, ipods, kindles etc to them at the airport. They don't need civilian clothes because they won't wear them for at least a month while in A school. They usually take the recruits to the airport at an ungodly hour but I can tell you they appreciate the extra time with you and getting their connection back to the world. It was heartwarming to see all the Navy uniforms at Midway today and how many civilians stopped to thank them for their service.
Don't be surprised at how reserved, calm, mature, and settled your child is. We weathered the tears at PIR but really lost it when my son picked up the tab for lunch.
Because we brought the younger children, we opted for a crazy place called Key Lime Cove in Gurnee. It has an indoor water park and a full fledged spa.Expensive but worth it for fun and relaxation. Lots of restaurants inside for one stop fun in the winter months. We can also recommend the aquarium in Chicago, Sears Tower,,and any new sub moms (like me) the Science and Industry museum all on Lake Shore Drive. Couldn't have had such a great graduation weekend without all the input from this site..so I hope this advice helps.
Best of Luck to all on this journey. God bless our new sailors and safe trips to all of them today