Celebrate Chinese New Year with food and a parade

 

Special dinners, teas and parades mark Chicago’s Chinese New Year celebration of the Year o the Dog 4716.

With a vibrant Chinatown and several excellent Chinese restaurants plus venues such as the Chicago Cultural Center and Navy Pier promoting Chicago’s ethnic groups, there are plenty of places to learn more, see more and enjoy more Chinese dancing and dishes.

Often called the Lunar New Year and sometimes known as the Chinese Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year in 2018, begins Feb. 16 and ends 15 days later. However, tied to the Chinese lunisolar calendar, celebrations start the eve of the first day and culminate in the Lantern Festival.

If you go to any of Chicago’s Chinese festivals or restaurants, expect to see lots of red and the words “happiness” and “good fortune.”

Here are some Chinese New Year events to put on your go-to calendar.

 

The Peninsula Chicago is decked out for Chinese New Year.
The Peninsula Chicago is decked out for Chinese New Year.

Feb. 15-18

Decorated with red lanterns and a décor that celebrates the Year of the Dog, The Peninsula Chicago is a thoroughly Asian hotel (it is celebrating its 90th anniversary in Hong Kong).

This is a good place to stop in for Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea in The Lobby where tangerine trees and red flowers wish everyone good fortune. The tea includes special savories and sweets for $65. The Peninsula is at 108 East Superior Street.

In addition, there will be a Lion Dance that weaves through The Lobby during Afternoon Tea at 3:30 pm., Feb. 17. Children can “feed” lettuce to the lion for good luck in the coming year. The Lion Dance begins at the hotel’s front entrance amid drumbeats and cymbals (scares evil spirits) at 3:15 p.m.

Feb. 15-22

For an authentic, eight-course Chinese dinner, reserve a table at The Peninsula Chicago’s award winning Shanghai Terrace. It includes, among many other dishes, ginger wild chicken, seafood siewmai with black truffle, pan-fried prawns and kung pao beef tenderloin. Cost is $138.

For more information please call (312) 573-6620 or (866) 288-8889 and visit Peninsula Chicago.

Lion dancers will be prancing through some Chicago restaurants and at parades during Chinese New Year. Peninsula photo
Lion dancers will be prancing through some Chicago restaurants and at parades during Chinese New Year. Peninsula photo

Feb. 15-Feb. 28

Stop in at  Koi Fine Asian Cuisine in Evanston for dishes from its “Lucky Menu.” Different dishes represent wealth, long life, happiness, prosperity, good relationships and family. Reservations will be needed for the Lion Dance there Feb. 24.  Koi is at 624 Davis St., Evanston. Call 847-866-6969 and visit Koi.

Feb. 16

Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center hosts Chinese dancers, martial arts and music from noon to 1 p.m. There will also be a peek at the Chongqing Chuanju Theater Troupe which performs at Symphony Center the next day. The Chicago Cultural Center is at 78 E Washington St. For more information visit Chinese Fine Arts Events.

Feb. 17

See acrobatic choreography, gorgeous costumes and enjoy Chinese arts during an afternoon at Symphony Center, home of the CSO. Performances featuring the Dong Fang Performing Arts and the Yellow River Performing Arts are from 1:45 to 2:30 p.m. in Buntrock Hall.

This is followed with opera segments by the Chongqing Chuanju Opera Theatre and folk music by Zhejiang Symphony Orchestra at 3 p.m. in Orchestra Hall.

The first program is free to ticket holders of the second program. Symphony Center is at 220 S. Michigan Ave. For tickets and other information visit CSO tickets.

Feb. 24

Head over to Navy Pier’s Aon Grand Ballroom for Chinese activities, shows and food. Navy Pier partners with the Chinese Fine Arts Society to present the Chicago Chinese Cultural Center Lion Dancers, Martial arts, Chinese music and the Flying Fairies dance troupe from 1 to 5 p.m.

The event is part of Navy Pier’s free Global Connections sponsored by ComEd. Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave. For more information call (800) 595 Pier (7437) and visit Navy Pier Global.

Feb. 24

The Uptown neighborhood’s Argyle Street has a parade with floats, dragon dancers and marchers from 1 to 2:30 p.m. The procession goes from Argyle and Broadway Streets to Winthrop Avenue. For more information visit Explore Uptown.

 

Argyle Lunar New Year 2016 parade. Photo compliments Uptown
Argyle Lunar New Year 2016 parade. Photo compliments Uptown

 

Feb. 25

Go to Chinatown for the community’s annual lunar parade and to celebrate this neighborhood’s 106th anniversary.  It’s a fun, colorful event featuring lion and dragon dancers, marching bands, floats and Ronald McDonald.  The parade starts at 24th Street and Wentworth Avenue at 1 p.m. then goes north on Wentworth and west on Cermak. For more information visit  CCC Foundation.

For more Chicago Chinese New Year information visit Choose Chicago.

 

Around Town: February

Instead of organizing the desk (or you name it), and wishing the groundhog prognosticators were wrong about six more weeks of winter, take in a show, find a special event to dispel gray skies and moods and take advantage of museum free days.

Theatre

The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre
The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre

If the family has a Saturday available, get tickets to ‘Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at The Yard, Chicago Shakespeare’s newly added theater on Navy Pier . The show is a fun 75 minutes that merges the Bard’s humorous mismatching of characters in his comedies. The production is offered Saturdays now through March 10, 2018 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.. To get tickets visit Chicago Shakes Plays.

 

Concert

Listen as famed tenor Lawrence Brownlee performs ‘Cycles of My Being,’ a recital that puts forth what it is like to live as a black man in America. Co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall, Lyric Opera/Lyric Unlimited and Opera Philadelphia, the program will only be in chicago Feb. 22, 2018 at 7 p.m. at the DuSable Museum of African American History. For more information visit Lyric Opera Cycles or call (312) 827-5600.

 

Walk around gorgeous, delicate orchids at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
Walk around gorgeous, delicate orchids at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Botanics

Go to the Chicago Botanic Garden  Feb. 10 through March 25, 2018 to see orchids with an Asian accent. This year, the Garden’s Orchid Show blooms among kimonos, parasols and Asian plants. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. plus open later Thursdays to 8 p.m. For more information visit Chicago Botanic Garden orchid.

 

 

 

Museums

How about a night at the   museum,  that is among the fish?

Explore the Shedd during an overnight stay.
Explore the Shedd during an overnight stay.

 

For Presidents Day weekend stay the night Feb. 16, 2018 in a special program at the Shedd Aquarium that allows participants to explore the museum, see an aquatic presentation and do a scavenger hunt. The cost is $75 per person ($60 members).  For tickets and more information visit Shedd Aquarium Overnight.

 

Free Days

Presidents’ Day, a federal holiday when most schools in Illinois are closed to celebrate Presidents Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays, is Feb. 19, 2018. Fortunately, some of Chicago’s museums are free that day.

Some Chicago museums have free admission.
Some Chicago museums have free admission.

The Adler Planetarium’s general admission is waved for Illinois residents Feb. 19-22.  For more information visit Adler.

Art Institute of Chicago has free admission to Chicago residents under age 18, every day. See ARTIC.

Chicago History Museum is free every day to children under 18 who are Illinois residents. Visit Chicago History.

The Field Museum has free general admission for Illinois residents all of February. Visit Field Museum free days.

 

Art

The National Museum of Mexican Art always has free admission. See National Museum of Mexican Art.

Find this amazing dome and room at the Chicago Cultural Center
Find this amazing dome and room at the Chicago Cultural Center

The Chicago Cultural Center has a new exhibition on its fourth floor. Titled “Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush,” it was organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. The Cultural Center also has other exhibits on its first floor. While in the building go to the third floor to see gorgeous glass domes and rooms. Admission is always free. Visit Chicago Cultural Center.

Get out and enjoy Chicago

Jodie Jacobs

 

Museums and celebrations offer quality ways to spend MLK Day

Many Chicago museums have free admission for MLK Day.
Many Chicago museums have free admission for MLK Day.

Fortunately when schools close for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, several Chicago museums answer the what-to-do question with free or discounted admission for Illinois residents. In addition, the Black Ensemble Theater and the Chicago Children’s Theatre also have programs.

Here are some places to spend quality time Jan. 15, 2018.

 

Museums

On Chicago’s Museum Campus, Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., (312) 922-7827,  The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., (312) 922-9410 and the Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake shore Dr., (312) 939-2438, all have free general admission to Illinois residents. (Not included: all access to special exhibits).

At the Art Institute of Chicago, the Ryan Learning Center (entrance at the Modern Wing, 159 East Monroe St. is doing “Say it Loud” program of  story telling, arts and discussions from 10 :30 a.m. to 3 p.m. No registration needed. However, admission to the museum is also free that day for all Illinois residents as part Free Winter Weekdays, January 8–February 15, 2018.

The Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S Lake Shore Dr., (773) 684-1414, also has free general admission on Jan. 15 and is celebrating Black Creativity Family Day with special programs and art.

Chicago History Museum, 1601 North Clark Street (312) 642-4600, has free programs all day with free general admission to Illinois residents on MLK Day.

 

Theater

Chicago Children’s Theatre, 100 S. Racine Ave. at Monroe, has a free Martin Luther King Birthday party from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Black Ensemble Theater at 4450 North Clark St., celebrates “And still we rise,”  from 6 to 9 p.m. with programs by the African American Arts Alliance. Tickets are $20 and includes a reception.

 

 

 

Great Chicago events brighten winter

Four Chicago doings, call them the ABCDs, are here to chase away January gloom.

Winifred Godfrey 'Flowers' show is at Beverly Art Center
Winifred Godfrey ‘Flowers’ show is at Beverly Art Center

A is for an amazing art show of the works of homegrown, internationally known artist, Winifred Godfrey. Running from Jan. 14 through Feb. 25, 2018 at the Beverly Art Center, 2407 W. 111th St., Chicago, the show brightens the indoor landscape with her famed flowers. The opening reception is Jan. 14 from 2 to 4 p.m.. For more information call (773) 445-3838 and visit Beverly Art Center Events.

Chicago Boat Show is on now with lots of fun activities
Chicago Boat Show is on now with lots of fun activities

B stands for boat show. The annual Chicago Boat, RV and Sail Show is back in town. Held now through Jan. 14, 2018 at McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive, the show becomes a fun family day. There’s hands-on activities ranging from fishing and paddle sports to lessons, seminars and virtual reality experiences. For tickets and more information visit  Chicago Boat Show.

SketchFest is iStage 773's various spaces including the Pro. Stage 773 photo.
SketchFest is in Stage 773’s various spaces including the Pro. Stage 773 photo.

C banishes the doldrums with comedy. The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival returns to the city Jan. 11 through 21, 2018 at  Stage 773. The venue is a theater complex at 1225 W. Belmont Ave. What to expect: 130 shows by returning troupes and new artists. Among the highlights is “ The Future is Female: A discussion with women about the climate of Chicago comedy,” Jan. 20, 3 p.m. in the Thrust theater with panelists from The Second City, Susan Messing of Annoyance Theater and WGN Radio’s Patti Vasquez. For schedule, tickets and other information call (773) 327- 5252 and visit Chicago Sketch Fest. www.chicagosketchfest.com.

Writers Theatre in Glencoe Jodie Jacobs photo
Writers Theatre in Glencoe
Jodie Jacobs photo

D is for that important word “discount” because $10 and $15 or less tickets are now available for Chicago Theatre Week. The annual week when Chicago area production companies have tickets for their shows at special prices is Feb. 8 through Feb. 18, 2018. But tickets for shows that week went on sale Jan. 9 and they go quickly. To snag the show you want visit Chicago Theatre Week.  To see a list of all shows visit League of Chicago Theatres at Chicago Plays.

Enjoy!

Jodie Jacobs

See holiday lights festivals at the zoos and by trolley

 

Holiday Lights Tour

You know that Chicago celebrates the holidays with sparkling lights but if you don’t want to have to walk or drive all over to see them then check out the Holiday Lights Tour that takes folks to them on a double-decker trolley.

The tour starts its rounds from the John Hancock Plaza Tree at 875 N. Michigan Ave. It continues for 2 hours, 30 minutes with a stop at nearby Sprinkles Cupcakes, then over to the Christkindlmarket followed by a stop at Lincoln Park for ZooLights before ending back at the Hancock Center.

Lincoln Park ZooLights. Todd Rosenberg Photo
Lincoln Park ZooLights. Todd Rosenberg Photo
© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2015

The Holiday Lights Tour goes from Nov. 24 through Dec. 23. For tickets, tour dates and hours visit Chicago Trolley.

 

ZooLights Festival

ZoolLights at Lincoln Park is more than a walk on the wild side. Along with visiting the animals and strolling among glowing, color-changing lights, there is a Light Maze labyrinth ($3), rides on the Endangered Species Carousel and a Lionel Train Adventure.

ZooLights entry is free but on Family Nights of Dec. 11, 18 and Jan. 1, the rides are also free.

ZooLights is Nov. 24-26 and Dec. 1-3  and then every night from Dec. 8 through Jan. 7 except Dec. 24-25. Hours are from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Lincoln Park Zoo is at 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago. For ticket and other information call (312) 742-2000 and visit Lincoln Park Zoo/events.

 

Holiday Magic 

The Talking Tree at Brookfield Zoo's Holiday Magic draws young and old visitors. Brookfield Zoo photo
The Talking Tree at Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic draws young and old visitors. Brookfield Zoo photo

 

Brookfield Zoo glows with more than a million LED lights during Holiday Magic, weekends Dec. 2-3, 9-10 and 16-17 and during the week Dec. 26-31. Don’t miss the events 41-foot high talking Tree, other trees that seem to dance to music and large light-shaped animals. Lights go on at 4 p.m.

Brookfield Zoo’s main parking lot is at First Avenue and 31st Street, Brookfield, IL. For more date, hours and specific holiday events call (708) 688-8000 and visit Holiday Magic.

 

Around Town: Holiday Happenings

Pumpkins still adorn some front doorsteps and Halloween candies still sit on some shelves but with Thanksgiving coming early this year (Nov. 23) and stores looking for a cheerful buying season, holiday decorations and events are already going up and beckoning.

If you have been downtown Chicago recently near Daley Plaza you likely noticed that the Christkindlmarket is already going up for its Nov. 17 opening and that Macy’s has already decorated its State Street and some Randolph Street windows.  Its 45 foot high Great Tree is up in the Walnut Room  sparkling with 2,000 ornaments and 6,600 lights.

Macy's State Stree windows are about Magic, pictured here, Love, Giving and other holiday themes. Photo by Carole Kuhrt Brewer.
Macy’s State Stree windows are about Magic, pictured here, Love, Giving and other holiday themes. Photo by Carole Kuhrt Brewer.

So yes, it’s somewhat early to plan on where to go for some holiday cheer of the non-alcholoic, event type. But if you don’t want to miss a fun activity, a repeat of a delightful family tradition or something that might start a new tradition, take a look at what’s coming up, print this and circle those events worth putting on your calendar.

The events tend to fall into those that open Nov. 17 and the ones that start the day after Thanksgiving on Nov. 24.

 

Beginning Nov. 17

City of Chicago’s Tree Lighting

Head to Millennium Park before 6 p.m.  to ooh and aah when the lights switch on the 62 foot Norway sprice donated by Darlene Dorfler, Grayslake. The Oakdale Christian Academy Choir will be singing and cast members from Goodman Theatre’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ will perform.  Santa and Mrs. Claus are also expected to visit. Admission is free. The tree will be up through Jan. 6, 2018.

Christkindlmarket Chicago 

City of Chicago Tree lighting is Nov. 17, 2017. City of Chicago photo.
City of Chicago Tree lighting is Nov. 17, 2017. City of Chicago photo.

The Chicago Christkindlmarket opens weekdays 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and stays open Friday-Saturday until 9 p.m. Location: Washington Street between Clark and Dearborn Streets. Admission free. For other information call (312) 494-2175.

Morton Arboretum Illumination

See trees from a different perspective when the Morton Arboretum has lights moving on them to music. In addition there is an Illu-medallion that can now be purchased to reflect the interactive light display.  Tickets are date and time specific.  Morton Arboretum is at 4100 Il Hwy 53, Lisle. For more information call (630) 968-0074.

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival 

Trees glow and lights move to music at the Morton Arboretum's Illumination festival. Morton Arboretum photo
Trees glow and lights move to music at the Morton Arboretum’s Illumination festival. Morton Arboretum photo

The festival opens Friday with activities and food from 4 to 8 p.m. in Lights Festival Lane (Pioneer Court) at 401 N. Michigan Avenue. The Michigan Avenue tree-lighting parade, sponsored by BMO Harris Bank and led by Mickey and Minnie Mouse, happens on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. after a day of activities starting at 11 a.m. at Pioneer Court and at Michigan Avenue shops. The parade begins at Oak Street and goes south to Wacker Drive ending with Fireworks at 6:55 p.m. .

Christmas Around the World at Museum of Science and Industry

Begun in 1942 with one tree, the exhibit now has a four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree plus more than 50 trees and displays. They are decorated by volunteers to represent many different cultures. MSI is at 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive.

 

Beginning Nov. 24

Christkindlmarket and more

The European holiday market is now opening in other Chicago area attractions. On Nov. 24 it opens in Naperville at the Naper Settlement, 523 S Webster St, and at the Park at Wrigley, 3637 N. Clark St.

Christkindlemarket at Daley Plaza. Jodie Jacobs photo
Christkindlemarket at Daley Plaza. Jodie Jacobs photo

If going to Wrigley, bring skates ($5 age 13 and older, free 12 and under) or rent them there because along with the Christkindlmarket the Park has an ice skating rink. If going there Nov. 28, take in the Tree-Lighting Ceremony when a Colorado Spruce tree from will sparkle with 2,700 bulbs. Instead of worrying about parking take the CTA Red Line or Clark bus 22 or Addison 152.

Chicago Botanic Garden Wonderland

The garden welcomes winter with a wonderland of lights outside and miniature trains speeding around Chicago landmarks plus decorated halls and greenhouses inside. Entry is ticketed and datge and time specific. The garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd, just east of Edens Expessway, Glencoe. (847) 835-5440

Wreathing of the Lions 

Chicago Botanic Garden Wonderland. Jodie Jacobs photo
Chicago Botanic Garden Wonderland. Jodie Jacobs photo

Art Institute of Chicago’s annually welcomes the holidays with a wreathing of its famous lion statues at 10 a.m., then continues the day with hot chocolate, music and drop in art activities through 3 p.m. While there, stop downstairs at the Thorne Miniature rooms because they are fun to see and some even get a holiday decoration. The museum is at 111 S. Michigan Ave.

Chicago Park District holiday flower shows

Both the Garfield Conservatory Holiday Show of Fire and Ice and the Lincoln Park Conservatory Holiday Flower Show open Nov. 24. For details visit Garfield Park Conservatory and Lincoln Park Conservatory.

 

 

Festivals and shows plus happenings around town

 

So that in the coming weeks you don’t have to say “oops, I forgot” or “oh, I wish I had known,” here are some fun and interesting choices of what to do now through Nov. 5, 2017.

1000 jack-o'-lanterns light up Chicago Botanic Garden paths.
1000 jack-o’-lanterns light up Chicago Botanic Garden paths.

 

Short Story Theatre

Short story theatres are trending now in the Chicago area. (See StorySlam). Highwood, a tiny city between Highland Park and Lake Forest known for its restaurants, also hosts short story telling.

Its next time is Oct. 26 when the theme is Survival. Stories are likely to be about lost wives, geese, road trips or angels.

So come to Miramar Bistro at 301 Waukegan Ave. east of the North Line train tracks at 7:30 p.m. Or come earlier and eat there first. Just tell them when making a reservation that you are staying for the Short Story Theatre. Show tickets are $10 at the door, cash or check. Phone 847-433-1078.

 

Boo at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Hand-carved pumpkins line the paths Oct. 26-29 for Night of 10000 Jack-O-Lanterns. Tickets are date and time specific so get yours before you go to avoid disappointment. Times are from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, east of Edens Expressway. For tickets and other information call (847) 835-5440 or visit CBGHalloween.

 

Broadway in Chicago

At the Cadillac Palace Theatre, ‘Les Miserables, Cameron Mackintosh’s new production that is garnering rave reviews, closes Oct. 29. For tickets visit BroadwayinChicago.

Then, School of Rock’ an exuberant show with new songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber opens Nov. 1. For tickets and other information visit Broadway Rock.

Rigoletto (Quinn Kelsey) center and couriers in )Lyric Opera production of Verdi's Rigoletto. (Todd Rosenberg photo)
Rigoletto (Quinn Kelsey) center and couriers in Lyric Opera production of Verdi’s Rigoletto. (Todd Rosenberg photo)

 

Verdi and Wagner

If you enjoy opera at its best know that Lyric Opera of Chicago has  openings, closings and reviews similar to many downtown shows. Verdi’s ‘Rigoletto’ that also received rave reviews, has only three performances left: Oct. 26, Oct. 30 and Nov. 3. Wagner’s next Ring cycle opera, ‘Die Walküre,’ opens Nov. 1. For tickets and other information visit Lyric Opera.

 

Sip and Stroll Festival

Visit more than restaurants and other businesses in Lincoln Square for the semi-annual Ravenswood Wine Stroll. Nov. 2 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $45 and are for one of five different routes: three in Lincoln Square and two in Ravenswood. For tickets and route information see Lincoln Square Wine Stroll.

 

Really old and last century modern

Winnetka Community House’s famed Antiques + Modernism show  runs Nov. 3-5 with an evening, first peek party Nov. 2. Because it’s a 60-year-old nationally known event, dealers bring their fine antiques and excellent mid-last-century modernism jewelry and furniture. For ticket and other information visit Winnetka Show.

SOFA shows off really fine pieces for the home and office. Jodie Jacobs photo
SOFA shows off really fine pieces for the home and office.
Jodie Jacobs photo

 

Where high-end art and superior design mix

Known as SOFA for bringing together Sculpture Objects Fine Art plus Design, the annual Chicago event is back at Navy Pier Nov. 2-5. Go upstairs to the Festival Hall to see what the international galleries say are trending now in the art world. For tickets and other information visit SOFA.

Jodie Jacobs

Personal Stories Take Wing at The Moth StorySLAM

RECOMMENDED

If you have the ability to turn sound into images in your mind, spoken word performances can be great theater.

Moth StorySLAM events are open mic storytelling competitions held in several large cities around the U.S.

The event I attended this week took place at The Promontory in Hyde Park at 53rd and Lake Park, an attractive modern glass and steel second floor facility in what was previously a Barnes & Noble Bookstore.

A speaker tells about his discovery during a recent Moth session.
A speaker tells about his discovery during a recent Moth session.

It seats over 100 people, has a large well lighted stage and a full cash bar in the back. The venue is used mainly for music although there is a nice, full-service restaurant on the first floor.

Be prepared for a considerable number of stairs to the performance area. They claim to have handicap access but it is an awkward service elevator accessed from the restaurant.

Moth StorySLAMs are held in this location the second Tuesday of every month. Tickets are $10 and available online at The Moth.

Ten volunteer storytellers are chosen at random to tell a true story without using notes. Each story is five to six-minutes long. Then, they are scored on a scale of one to ten based on how well the story is crafted as well as presentation and entertainment value.

Winners have an opportunity to advance to The Moth GrandSLAM.  Selected stories recorded at the various venues can be heard on the The Moth Radio Hour. In Chicago listen Thursday evenings on NPR Station 91.5 FM.

Each event has a topic upon which to  base the stories. When I went it was  DISCOVERY.

The first fellow spoke about what he discovered about his deceased parents through an interaction with a man who had been his father’s best friend and his mother’s first husband.

Another woman spoke about what she had discovered about childhood friendship the summer she and her friends rode a mattress down an infrequently used stairway at a major department store in St. Louis.

The winner incorporated a good deal of humor. His discovery related to his determination to hang on to his childhood dream of owning a monkey.

My friend, Robert, a frequent public speaker, talked about discovering that true winners help others to succeed.

There were other stories dealing with the discovery of love, romance and personal pain.

Some speakers are professionals while others may be making their first public speaking appearance which provides for great entertainment with an element of danger.

Though I have been something of a devotee of the radio show, I would say in this case I discovered a great new venue and an enjoyable event that I would easily recommend. Perfect if you enjoy exploring the diversity of the human experience.

Other MothSLAMs are held on Chicago’s Northside and in Evanston.

Visit themoth.org to learn more.

Reno Lovison

 

Grinning scarecrows and pumpkins are out and about

Instead of looking for them in farmers’ fields, look for scarecrows and pumpkins at three fun-for-all-ages festivals where you can make or carve an inspired personality. The festivals are happening Oct. 6-8, 2017.

Highwood, a North Shore town, is holding its now nationally famous Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival. St. Charles, west of Chicago, has its 32nd Annual Scarecrow Fest. The Chalet Nursery, a fun place to find holiday items and indoor/outdoor décor pieces near Edens Expressway, is doing its annual scarecrow-making festival.

Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival has thousands of lit pumpkins at night and fun activities during the day. (Highwood photo)
Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival has thousands of lit pumpkins at night and fun activities during the day. (Highwood photo)

Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival

You’ll never see as many pumpkins and different pumpkin faces as in Highwood, IL this weekend. The tiny (little over a square mile) city tucked between Highland Park and Lake Forest, has been trying to break the Guiness World record of 30,851 carved pumpkins for the past few years. The streets on the east side of METRA’s Union Pacific North Line tracks are edged with tall, metal pumpkin stands where lit pumpkins cunningly grin at visitors at night. Festival doings day and night range from pie eating and costume contests to hay, pony and camel rides. There is also a Super Hero walk-run to honor a Make-A Wish child plus pumpkin carving, entertainment, food, tricks and treats.

A $3 per day or $5 for the weekend admission charge benefits the Make A Wish Foundation. Last year the festival raised $60,000. But also go just because the event is fun.

Some events need registering. For the Fun Walk/Run click here. For the entertainment and full event times and other registrations visit schedule. Hours are Friday 4 to 10, Sat. 9 a.m Fun Walk/Run and general opening 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sun. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m,  847-668-1213

Best plan is take the train because parking will be scarce. Or go north to Old Elm Road then east to Sheridan road and back south to Hotel Moraine at 700 Sheridan Road where a shuttle will take visitors to the festival.

St. Charles Scarecrow Fest

More than 100 scarecrows will populate St. Charles Oct. 6 through Oct. 8.

Make your own scarecrow at the St. Charles Scarecrow Festival or at the Chalet Nursery in Wilmette. (Jodie Jacobs photo taken at the Chalet)
Make your own scarecrow at the St. Charles Scarecrow Festival or at the Chalet Nursery in Wilmette. (Jodie Jacobs photo taken at the Chalet)

The event also includes, Arts & Crafts show, vintage autos, entertainment, pumpkin displays, make-you-own scarecrow stations, pumpkin carving and food. Most events are free. The festival is divided into sponsored activity zones along Main Street (Hwy 64) between Fifth and Third Streets east of the Fox River and just south of Main Street across the river.

Hours: Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more activity information download the detailed map pdf by visiting brochure.

Chalet Nursery Scarecrow Festival

The Chalet Nursery and Garden Center  has lots of Halloween decor plus visitrs can make their own scarecrow. All that is needed is to bring the scarecrow’s clothes because the Chalet will provide a head and straw. Hours: Oct. 7-8,  11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Chalet is at 3132 Lake Ave, Wilmette across from Edens Plaza. For more information call (847) 256-0561 and for general Chalet information visit Nursery.

 

Around Town: Labor Day Weekend

If  you don’t want to compete with other drivers going out of town Labor Day, take advantage of the long weekend to visit events and places in the Chicago area.

Luzia: A Waking Dream of Mexico, is under the Big top next to the United Center now through sept. 3, 2017. Photo courtesy of Cirque du Soleil.
Luzia: A Waking Dream of Mexico, is under the Big top next to the United Center now through Sept. 3, 2017. Photo courtesy of Cirque du Soleil.

Cirque du Soleil

“Luzia, A Waking Dream of Mexico” will leave Chicago after this weekend. The final performance is Sept. 3. An amazing mix of color and culture, the show is under a tent at the United Center in Parking Lot K. For tickets and other information visit Cirque du Soleil Luzia.

Chicago Jazz Festival

Enjoy great music to sway and tap to under the stars in Millennium Park or surrounded by wonderful mosaics in the Chicago Cultural Center at the Chicago Jazz Festival this weekend. Admission is free. Millennium Park stages (201 E. Randolph St.) host music from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. For Cultural Center, (78 E. Washington St.) times and for who is playing where and when visit ChicagoJazzFestival.

Chicago Jazz Festival is in Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center Labor Day Weekend. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Chicago Jazz Festival is in Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center Labor Day Weekend. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Art Fair on the Square

Wander around historic Market Square downtown Lake Forest Sept. 3 or 4 to see 180 exhibitors at Art Fair on the Square. Sponsored by the Deer Path Art League, hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Admission is free.
For directions and more information visit Deer Path Art League.

Gauguin

Catch the Gauguin exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago before it leaves. It is an exceptional show of Paul Gauguin’s sculptures, ceramics, paintings and etchings, but it ends Sept. 10 so try to fit it in during the long Labor Day Weekend. The exhibit is so popular it requires tickets. They’re included in admission price but they are date sensitive. For information and tickets visit ARTIC.

Paul Gauguin, "Self Image with Yellow Christ." Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Paul Gauguin, “Self Image with Yellow Christ.” Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Breakfast and hike

Go to Morton Arboretum for waffles, eggs and other yummy treats in the Ginko Garden Restaurant, Saturday or Sunday.  Then, hike the trails to work it off. The weather is supposed to be perfect for exploring the Arboretum, 4100 IL Hwy 53, Lisle. For more information or restaurant reservations call (630) 968-0074 and visit Morton Arb.

Hear UB40 or Aretha Franklin

Picnic on the lawn at Ravinia Festival in Highland Park where UB40 performs Sept. 2 and Aretha Franklin gets respect Sept. 3. The UB40 concert is 7:30 p.m. Aretha Franklin, original scheduled for June 17, also starts at 7:30. Original tickets will be honored. Ravinia Festival is at 418 Sheridan Rd., Highland Park. For directions, parking, tickets and other information visit Ravinia.

Enjoy the weekend and be safe.