The Mechanical Contractors Association of Chicago’s 125th anniversary party was a chance to rub elbows with former NFL stars while gazing at famous art from Monet and Degas. 

Held June 1 at the Art Institute of Chicago, the black-tie gala was hosted by former Chicago Bear Tom Waddle, with a performance by the Second City comedy troupe and dinner music from a live orchestra. 

The Chicago MCA can trace its roots back to 1888, when a group of steam-fitting contractors decided to work with the union that represented many of its workers. What started as the Master Steam Fitters eventually became the mechanical group of today. It still maintains ties with pipefitters union Local 597, which has never had to call a strike, the association said. 

 “Our relationship with the union has helped us maintain steady growth throughout economic declines and building slowdowns,” said Stephen Lamb, the executive vice president of the MCA. “Anyone in the construction industry knows that it is a near impossibility to keep up with technological advances, keep your contactors educated on latest practices and communicate with legislators at the same time. But we have done it successfully.”