Chicago’s crazy tradition of DIBS!

Born out of sweat equity, DIBS has been debated for years. After a heavy snow and when after people have shoveled out their parking space, this unique Chicago custom kicks in. In Chicago. During the summer months we never give dibs a thought.

But once winter brings us inches of white stuff, dibs becomes the fervent desire to claim extended rights to a parking space that you just laboriously cleared out for oneself. After all that hard work the dibber calls “dibs” and believes that they have rightfully earned the spot for their exclusive use.

This is where no end of “stuff” would be set out as a placeholder. We are talkinghere (but not limited to) chairs, brooms, milk crates, ironing boards, tables, dressers, vacuum cleaners, lawn furniture, ladders, lawn gnomes,lumber, out of work nativity characters, stuffed animals, baby strollers, traffic cones, a piece of plywood, buckets or whatever you have to claim your hard earned shoveled space. It can be as simple as a bucket of snow on a crate or as elaborate as a full table setting.

Brendan Gardiner

 In years past it has been reported that serious stuff like sofas and stoves have been used. In the past we know of a a ping-pong table, a full-size Nativity set,  a man in a full suit of armor, last year’s Christmas tree, and even a velvet rope.

Don’t know when someone called dibs on their shoveled parking space for the very first time, but dibs certainly has been around for decades in Chicago. Respecting someone’s newly shoveled parking spot might be referred to as “post blizzard etiquette”.

 Dibs is not sanctioned by the city although on occasion city hall may look the other way for a while. Several mayors have actually encouraged the custom.

It is either loved or hated depending on whether you are the dibber or the dibee, that person who without conscience, and swoops in to park in a dibbed spot.  Some people staunchly defend the practice, believing their parking spot be protected.

Dib haters feel that all those dibbers are annoying and should be fined.

Dib Supporters believe the city look the other way and should rather focus on crime, violence and potholes. A 2006 Chicago Tribune newspaper poll found that 55.4 percent of the readers voted in support of dibs.

Maybe we should have a Chicago Dibs Court where all dibs’ disputes could be arbitrated much like Small Claims Court. A judge may chose to fine a dibee, or confiscate the shovel of the dibber as he or she sees fit. Or maybe the city could make some extra money selling dibs permits good for 30 days or 30 inches.

Since I am long retired in Arizona, my 50 years of snow shoveling in Chicago are behind me, unless i choose to drive an hour north to Flagstaff.

and for the story of the big snow of 1967 click the link

 What do you think about the time-honored but strange custom of dibs?

 Post your comments for or against. Or maybe you have a funny story to add. You can always vent or leave a compliment with me at

2 thoughts on “Chicago’s crazy tradition of DIBS!”

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