Men get married at… checks notes… a rat hole

Two brown rats
Photo: Shutterstock

A new Chicago landmark has gone viral and is not your usual tourist spot. It’s a “rat hole” (or maybe a squirrel).

But Raj Sarathy and his new husband took the craze to an entirely new level when the pair got married on the sidewalk in front of it.

A rat (or squirrel) shaped imprint in the sidewalk has been a neighborhood amusement for 20 years, but after comedian Winslow Dumaine stumbled across it and posted a photo on social media.

“What I found was very much like Looney Tunes, I guess. Just a full rat splat in the wet pavement,” Dumaine told the local news. “I just busted out laughing when I saw it.”

Within two days it had over five million views and dozens of visitors a day who left candles, weed, alcohol, food, stuffed animals at a shrine erected at the site. People tossed coins into the hole like a wishing well, a man proposed marriage to his fiancé, and hours later, Raj showed up with his soon-to-be husband, a wedding planner, and a balloon covered arch.

“I wanted something that was very groundbreaking,” Sarathy told Book Club Chicago. “We looked at each other in the eyes and we said, ‘Why don’t we get married at the rat hole?’ That’s when I reached out to my wedding planner to make that actually become a reality.”

Lica Sato-Keene, his planner, said the request was unusual, but so is Sarathy. So after a reception, the men headed to the sidewalk indent to make things official.

When the entourage arrived at the rat (or maybe squirrel) hole, about 50 people were there and the crowd helped the couple to celebrate.

“Everybody at the rat hole is literally the nicest person you’ve ever met,” Sato-Keene said. “As a wedding and event planner, you don’t usually move the decor. Once the decor’s there, it’s there. We had to figure out a way to break it into pieces, put it in the business van and transfer it there. There were people at the rat hole just helping us carry these [balloons] across the street. It was so funny and sweet.”

But neighbors aren’t that thrilled with the litter and noise caused by the fans. Along with coins and flowers, gawkers are also leaving tobacco, drugs, alcohol and condoms. And the food offerings can attract actual rats.

“The shrines and everything are nice, but this isn’t like a historic landmark,” one neighbor said. “There’s no one designated to clean up after it, so it’s just been us and the neighbors next door that have been cleaning up.”

“Rats run in packs,” she added. “So if one rat were to come and see that there’s fresh cheese here every day, more rats would come. They nest, they burrow. We just don’t want a nest of rats burrowing in the foundation of our house.”

“I think the idea of treating it like a wishing well is kind of fun, and I think that might be the easiest way. If you want to toss a coin in, take a pic, I think that’s nice. The leaving of the stuff, it’s just someone has to clean it up eventually. And it’s being put on us, the community.”

Sarathy and Sato-Keene cleaned up after the nuptials.

Other neighbors have a different quibble with the newfound notoriety. They insist that the imprint isn’t from something as disgusting as a rat. Instead, they hold out that it’s the imprint of a different rodent.

“Everyone who’s been here this long says it’s a squirrel,” neighbor Cindy Nelson clarified. “I don’t believe a rat hops in the air and belly flops straight down.”


My dream wedding at the Rat Hole 😍 visit #liloentertainment for your wedding ballloons! #fyp #chicago #ratatouille

♬ original sound – Raj Mahal
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