River turns green and Chicago holds a major parade


Chicago River turns green. (Photo courtesy City of Chicago)
Chicago River turns green. (Photo courtesy City of Chicago)

Plan ahead to watch the Chicago River turned to green then watch Chicago’s big St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

February gave us better weather than the usual cold and snow for many readers. And a St. Valentines Day celebrated with flowers, chocolate and or dinner out broke up the month in the middle.

Now, March is already seeing tulips and hyacinths poking their heads through the soil due to our still unseasonably warm weather. And we have such St. Patrick’s weekend events as turning the Chicago River a charming Irish color of green.

More is coming about other parades and places to be in the next article. But this one is about the river because you should start thinking now about going downtown Chicago to watch this annual event a week from this Saturday on March 16, 2024. The coloration is due to start at 10 a.m. Then the downtown parade starts at 12:15 p.m.

First colored in 1962 thanks to the local plumbers union, the river dyeing is still done by them with a secret, environmentally-friendly dye.

What to know: The dyeing of the Chicago River, now celebrating 69 years, is held the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day and is followed by the city’s main parade which starts at Balboa Drive and pipes its way north on Columbus Drive to Monroe Drive. In the parade are politicians, Irish dancers, marching bands and bagpipers.

Where to watch: First colored in 1962 thanks to the local plumbers union, the river dyeing is still done by them with a secret, environmentally-friendly dye. Today, more than one boat is used to drop in the coloring. Best is to find a spot on the Michigan Avenue bridge or just west of it along the river. (The lower Riverwalk will be closed.) You need to get there early because the best spots fill quickly.

You can also watch from a river cruise such as Chicago’s First Lady  (Wendella. is sold out) Afterwards, grab a snack or coffee and head west of Michigan Avenue to Columbus Drive for the parade.

Jodie Jacobs


February means food plus fun and parades

Past Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans (Photo courtesy of New Orleans Visitors Bureau)


So glad to about to turn the calendar to February. On the horizon there is:  

  1. Chinese food to order in or eat out for Lunar New Year beginning Feb. 10 and celebrated most of the month.

In the Chicago area there are a couple of dragon parades and other events on Argyle and in Chinatown

2. We have Super Bowl Sunday to nosh through as we watch and rate the commercials Feb. 11. Some interesting ads are already out on U Tube. See more football info at NFL LVIII

3. We get to try cajon and other Louisiana or Rio delicacies for Mardi Gras, Feb. 13 before Lent begins. Mardi is French for Tuesday and Gras means fat but the French reverse the order so Mardi Gras is Fat Tuesday.

4. Of course there is Valentines Day flowers, cards and candy to get or send on Feb. 14. But this is a holiday to eat out at a romantic or fun restaurant.

The Chicago area has hundreds of restaurant choices so if not sure where to go, visit Choose Chicago. The city’s tourism site has compiled some suggestions. It includes two old favorites, Mon Ami Gabi. and Geja’s Cafe,  (fondu). Supposedly the holiday’s origins began in Roman times and continued in England with the Legend of St. Valentine but it has become a Hallmark holiday.

Jodie Jacobs

Chicago Restaurant Week


First Bites Bash

 First Bites Bash at Field Museum (Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago)

Just as the January calendar and weather look dismal, Chicago Restaurant Week comes to town. The dates are Jan. 19 through Feb. 4, 2024. 

About 350 restaurants from across the city and suburbs will participate, ranging in cuisine from American, French and Italian to Indian, sushi and Mediterranea, plus seafood and steakhouses in between. Dining rates are $25 for brunch or lunch and $42-$59 for dinner. 

This is a chance to try something different from your usual eat-out fare or a restaurant you have been meaning to visit.

As an example Riccardo Enoteca, 2116 N. Clark St., is doing three courses for $42. See the offerings at  Riccardo Enoteca | Choose Chicag0

 So is Kama at 1560 N. Milwaukee Ave. Bucktown/Wicker Park

Just as good is the First Bites Bash at the Field Museum Jan 18 with samples from several restaurants.

Check out the restaurants and First Bites event at Chicago Restaurant Week | Official Guide | Choose Chicago

Jodie Jacobs



Where to spend some holiday time

Chicago is a great place to spend the holidays. But you might want to plan where to go when because there is so much going on in the city and suburbs.

Here are just a few suggestions.



Lincoln P:ark Zoolights(Photo by Jodie Jacobs)

Lincoln Park ZooLights (J Jacobs photo)

Sitting just north of Chicago’s downtown Loop and on the west side of DuSable Lake Shore Drive, Lincoln Park Zoo celebrates the holidays with more than a million colorful LEDs for the annual ZooLights.

Sponsored by Com Ed and Invesco, ZooLights casts a joyous spell on paths past animal homes and food booths from Nov. 17, 2023 to Jan. 7, 2024. The free daytime zoo now is by $7-$10 tickets at night but is free on Mondays. Festival hours: Sunday–Thursday: 4:30–9:00 p.m. Friday–Saturday: 4:30–10:00 p.m. The zoo closes at 3 p.m. for the festival so it can reopen at 4:30 p.m.  

Tip: best plan is to take a bus.  Number 22, 36, 151, and 156 buses stop along the western edge of the zoo.

Brookfield Zoo Tunnel of Light sponsored by Xfinity. (Chicago Zoological Society photo)

Tunnel of Light at Brookfield Zoo (Photo courtesy of Chicago Zoological Society)

At southwest suburban Brookfield Zoo, the season is also celebrated with more than a million LEDs Holiday Magic. Those dates are Nov.  24-26, Dec. 30 and dec 1-3 and Dec.7-10, Dec. 14-17, Dec .21-23 and Dec.26-31.

Get tickets for North or South Gate entry Advance tickets needed for South  entry. The zoo open from 3-9 p.m. on Holiday Magic dates. Entertainment is 5-8p.m. with “Those Funny Little People” and “Juggling Elves.”

North Gate: 8400 31st Street (1st Avenue and 31st Street),
South Gate Main Entrance 3300 Golf Rd. 


Christkindl Market downtown Chicago. (Photo by J Jacobs)

Christkindle Market Daley Plaza, (JJacobs photo) 

A fun place to visit during the holidays is the German-style market downtown Chicago at Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St. or its branches at Gallagher Way Gallagher Way 3635 N Clark Street in Wrigleyville alongside Cubs Park or in Aurora at RiverEdge Park, 360 N Broadway.

Filled with food and gift booths, it’s impossible to walk away without a taste treat or gift.  Visit Christkindlmarket.

For more holiday lights visit November Lights

Jodie Jacobs

November holiday lights

Light up the night at Lightscape

(Photo courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden)

No sooner does Halloween wave a cold and scary skeleton hand goodby than the Chicago Botanic Garden and Morton Arboretum beckon with  tickets for their light shows.


The word “Lightscape” really defines the Chicago Botanic Garden’s winter transformation of its paths, garden areas and islands.

Open Nov. 10, 2023 through Jan. 7, 2024, formerly familiar Garden sections turn into plots of fire, fantastically large flowers and colorful, bright beacons. 

For its fifth annual holiday light show some displays, such as the popular Winter Cathedral, return like old, familiar friends. Other sections, such as Evening Island, welcome visitors to new vistas. 

What to expect: food and drink in various courtyards plus an enchanting experience of music and light.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, IL (847) 835-6801. 

For tickets and more information visit Lightscape | Chicago Botanic Garden

Lightscape 2022 at Chicago Botanic Garden (J Jacobs phto)
Lightscape 2022 at Chicago Botanic Garden (J Jacobs photo)


Light transforms a one-mile pathway at Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum. Opening Nov. 18, 2023, Illumination continues through Jan. 6, 2024.

 A grove of trees comes alive as color change while you watch and lights  make trees dance. Hug a tree to see it light up. Then see the display’s finale on Meadow Lake.

You can warm up by a fire and roast marshmallows for s’mores or stop in a concession tent for a snack and beverage or dine at the Ginkgo Restaurant in the Visitor Center. Stop at the Arboretum Store to purchase a temperature-activated, color-changing ceramic mug available Illumination.

The Morton Arboretum is 41oo IL Rt 53, Lisle, IL  For tickets and more information visit Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum | The Morton Arboretum.

Jodie Jacobs



Around The Town: From banned books to pumpkin patches


(Photo courtesy of Kroll’s Farm)

With Labor Day passed, fall now here and students back in school, Around The Town was going to focus on fun fall events. But first, in case it slips by unremarked Banned Books Week is Oct. 2-7, 2023.

Actors at City Lit Theater will be doing excerpts from the top 10 challenged books at eight sites around the Chicago area beginning Sept. 27.

Held in conjunction with the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, the event is “Books on the Chopping Block” that takes place around the Chicago area through mid-November.

The program will include background on the books, reasons some people want them off the shelves and audience discussion.

The sites include the Edgewater Branch of the Chicago Public Library Oct. 3 and Belmont Branch Oct. 4, plus the DePaul University Library in Lincoln Park, the public libraries of Bellwood, Highland Park, and River Forest, the Vernon Area Library in Lincolnshire Public Library, and the Frankfort Public Library. A presentation is also taking place Nov. 14 at the Women of Temple Sholom Banned Books Event,  3450 N. DuSable Lake Shore Drive in Lakeview.

For all dates and locations visit City Lit Banned Books event BOOKS ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK | citylittheater

The 18-year-old event is now in its 16th consecutive year to let folks know about books some people want off the shelves.

Pumpkins and Jack-O-Lanterns. 

The bad news is that Didier’s has closed its retail operation near Lincolnshire. But the good news is there is a really great place to find pumpkins, Halloween items, cider donuts and see farm animals north in Lake County, IL. It is the child and adult-friendly Kroll’s Fall Harvest Farm, Find it at 13236 W Town Line Rd, Waukegan, IL · (847) 662-5733

Carved pumpkins are Jack-O-Lanterns if you ask the folks at the Chicago Botanic Garden which is holding its “Night of 1000 Jack O Lanterns” that are artistically carved.

Or you can go to Highwood, a norther town, nearby that annually holds its Pumpkinfest . These orange, somewhat cut out gourds fill racks along the downtown.

The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival  i s Oct. 6-8, 2023. No tickets. Just come and enjoy live music and food booths.

Night of 1000 Jaci O Lanterns is Oct. 11-15 and Oct 18-22, 2023. Timed tickets needed. But there is food available for purchase and you get to walk the garden.

Jodie Jacobs








Around town puts Oktoberfest Chicago and Jack o Lanterns on the calendar


Celebrate fall with an Oktoberfest the end of September. Then keep the fun going by following a glowing path of hand-carved pumpkins in October.

Polka and celebrate Bavarian food and culture with Oktoberfest Chicago, Friday, Sept. 22 through Sunday, Sept. 24 on the grounds of St. Alphonsus church in West Lakeview. There will also be Craft Beer Tasting nights of September 22 & 23 in the church.

Hours are Friday from 5–10 p.m., Saturday from 12 noon –10 p.m. and Sunday from 12 noon –7 p.m. St. Alphonsus Catholic Church is located at 1429 W. Wellington Ave in Chicago. For more information visitchicago’s tourism site at 21st Annual Oktoberfest Chicago | 09/22/2023 | Choose Chicago


Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns

(Photo courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden)

Imagine strolling a path after dark where pumpkins glare, smile and stare back at you. It’s Night of 1,000 Jack O Lanterns” at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Actually, it’s quite family friendly and artistic.

“…Visitors walk through the Garden after dark guided by the glow of pumpkins,” said Jodi Zombolo of Visitor Events & Programs. “It’s a great opportunity to spend an evening outdoors with friends and family while being entertained along the way.”

The event sold out last year so get tickets now. Tickets for members/nonmembers are Adult: $19/$21, children (age 3 – 12): $13/$15 and free to age 2 and younger. Parking is free for members and $15 for nonmembers/

Night of 1,000 Jack o’ Lanterns is Oct. 11-15 and Oct. 18-22 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. For more information visit Night of Jack O Lanterns or visit \https://www.chicagobotanic.org/halloween?

Jodie Jacobs



Around Town


Unlikely as it seems, many of the foods Chicagoans love to snack on will be ready to taste in Chicago’s Grant Park this week. It’s Taste of Chicago part 4. We had Taste in Humboldt Park in June, Pullman in July and Marquette in August.  So now it’s Grant Park’s downtown Chicago’s turn Sept. 8-10. And it’s free admission. 

Also happening is Lakeview East’s Festival of the Arts. Featuring more than 120 artists, live music and local restaurants, it runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 9-10. Music continues to 10 p.m.

Art on the Mart finishes this season this weekend and starts a new season the following weekend. So, stroll the Riverwalk near Wells Street if downtown Chicago to see what’s projecting on the Mart’s giant canvas.

Jodie Jacobs


Lolla alternatives


'Marvelocity" has original artwork by Alex Ross and superhero figures and busts. (J Jacobs photo)

Nothing wrong with “Lolla” but if you’d rather detour this weekend away from Lollapalooza’s half-million people filled Grant Park, there are a few alternatives. They range from family friendly to something for youngsters, oldsters and “Grateful Dead” fans.

Anyone who appreciates Marvel’s art and characters should head to “Marvelocity, the Art of Alex Ross.” It fills the walls at the Elmhurst Art Musem after drawing fans further north at the Dunn Museum in Northwest suburban Libertyville. The museum is at 150 Cottage Hill Ave., Elmhurst. *(see related Marvelocity note)

Visit elmhurstartmuseum.org/ or call 630-834-0202 for ticket info.

Those folks who appreciate West Town’s restaurants and craft beer scene plus understand its “Dancing in the Streets name and dates of Aug. 4-6, will appreciate the an annual West Town Chamber festival. People in the know understand Aug. 4-6. Think the “Days Between” that celebrate Jerry Garcia. His b-day was Aug. 1 and he died Aug. 9.

For food, beer, art and more festival info visit Dancing in the Streets | West Town Chamber

Those music lovers who like to relax on a blanket in a tree and sculpture-filled park while listening to Mozart, Rachmaninoff or Beethoven, should head to Ravina Festival in north suburban Highland Park this weekend. Hear Mozart’s The Magic Flute with Marin Alsop and the CSO. Also featured this weekend are the music of Beethoven and Rachmaninoff with Marin Alsop, Yunchan Lim, and the CSO.  Ravinia is at the southeast end of Highland Park and accessible by train.

For ticket, schedule and other info visit Ravinia Festival – Official Site | Online Schedule / Calendar

Jodie Jacobs

(Marvelocity note: for Dunn Museum article visit A ‘Marvelocity’ of Alex Ross and superheroes – Chicago Theater and Arts)


Pride fun and festivals


Chicago Pride Parade, (Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago)
Chicago Pride Parade, (Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago)

It doesn’t matter if a member of the Pride community. The City of Chicago takes pride in supporting LGBTQ+.

Everyone is invited to what has become huge, fun, food and entertainment events such as Pride Fest in the Halsted Street area, a food and entertainment festival in Grant Park, and voila, one of the country’s largest Pride Parades that swings through several of the city’s neighborhoods.

Those events are in addition to some that already took place in neighborhoods and suburbs last weekend and events still to come at Navy Pier and the Chicago area. See the details and mark the events on the calendar.

Chicago Pride Fest, a two-day annual festival in Northalsted 

What to expect: Held the weekend before the Chicago Pride Parade, the Fest features music on three stages, good Chicago drag performances, the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus, a Pet Parade, a high-heel race, a Youth Pride Space for teens and several merchandise and food vendors.

In addition, SHAB, a pop artist and Iranian refugee, will be among featured guests performing on the Bud Light North Stage on Saturday. She is just back from a UK tour centered on her new video Indestructible.

Details; Centered at Halsted and Addison, June 17-18, 2023, it opens at 11 a.m. Saturday and ends at 10 p.m. Sunday and attracts about 60,000 people over the two days. A $15 donation is requested to cover expenses. For more information visit Chicago Pride Fest 2023 | 06/17/2023 | Choose Chicago.

Pride in the Park

What to expect: an annual, two-day music festival that includes food, merchandise and art. It draws big name stars  that this year includes  Zedd, Zara Larsson and Saweetie.

Details: Grant Park, June 23 and 24, 2023. For more information visit Pride in the Park 

Back Lot Bash

What to expect: Dedicated to women, it’s a highly attended block-party of food and music that this year features DJ Mary Mac and Lauren Sanderson.

Details: Held in Andersonvilee, June 24, 2023. For hours and location or more information visit Back Lot Bash Chicago.

Navy Pier Pride

What to expect: Music in three Navy Pier venues.

Details: Entertainment June 24-25 on the West Performance Platform from 11 a.m. to noon and more entertainment on the Orsted Wave Wall Performance Platform from noon to 7 p.m. Entertainers at the Navy Pier Beer Garden from 2 through 11 p.m.

For more information and entertainment schedule visit Navy Pier Pride 2023 | Navy Pier

Chicago Pride Parade

What to expect: Begun as a protest march in 1970 following New York City’s Stonewall Riots, it has become one of Chicago’s largest parades with close to 200 entries and attracts more than a million people. Street closures start around 8 a.m. at Montrose, Irving Park and Wellington at Broadway and Addison and Grace and Roscoe at Halsted. Streets and fully reopen by 8 p.m.

Details: The parade is June 25. It assembles at 10 a.m. then starts at noon in the Uptown neighborhood at Montrose and Broadway. Then, it winds through neighborhoods including East Lakeview and ends in Lincoln Park near Diversey Parkway and Sheridan Road.  

For more route details and other information visit Chicago Pride Parade.