John Salzeider was an old school rooftop watcher.
"I lived awhile in the (Wrigleyville) area, and I knew someone who was a tenant in one of the apartment buildings across the street from the ballpark," Salzeider said. "On occasion, we would come over and watch games from the rooftop."
This was during an era when bleacher tickets set you back less than five bucks, and a lawnchair seat looming over Wrigley Field was free if you brought your own beer.
"But back then there was no elevator taking you up there," Salzeider said. "We had to climb a ladder. And if you wanted to eat and drink up there, you had to haul up a cooler."
Things have changed since then, though not entirely. The Cubs' futility can still be unwatchable from any vantage, but that hasn't stopped the rooftop owners from cashing in from their prime real estate perches.
"The view up there is good, but ... let's be honest ... it's not like you're inside the park," Salzeider said. "But some of the rooftop businesses set you up pretty well once you get up there."
For more than a decade, Salzeider has worked with "Beyond the Ivy", which has three rooftop venues along left-field parallel Waveland Avenue, in putting together annual Rooftop Party Fundraisers.
"It was something my wife (Robin) and I started (in 2002) as something to teach our children about the importance of giving back," said Salzeider, a Highland attorney, about deciding to raise funds for local children's charities.
"Then it just got bigger and bigger," Salzeider said as he and his wife began to organize other charity events such as golf and bowling outings. They soon registered it as a nonprofit.
The Salzeider Family Charity will hold its 12th-annual Rooftop Party Fundraiser on May 16, when the Cubs play host to Milwaukee.
"At least people will be able to see one first-place team," Salzeider said of the National League Central-leading Brewers.
Tickets are $125.
"You're actually getting a lot for the price," Salzeider said. "That includes food, pop, beer, wine ... we're going to have giveaways and auctions."
With the biggest Beyond the Ivy venue reserved, Salzeider expects at least 200 for this party.
"And we're having a post-rooftop party get-together at Yak-Zies," Salzeider said of the bar located at 3710 North Clark St.
Though the Salzeider Family Charity wasn't inspired by a family tragedy, its annual golf outing to take place Aug. 8 at Wicker Park in Highland will be re-named in honor of Salzeider's brother, Jim, who died of cancer two years ago.