Chicago celebrates Saint Patrick differently this year

COVID canceled parades and green Chicago River but look for green lights on downtown buildings (City of Chicago photo)
COVID canceled parades and green Chicago River but look for green lights on downtown buildings (City of Chicago photo)

Céad míle fáilte, a hundred thousand welcomes, may greet customers of Chicago area eateries and bars in March. And expect the city’s skyline to be filled with green lights from March 11 through March 17.

Even though the city’s famed downtown and the two neighborhood parades, Southside Irish and Northwest Side Irish, have been canceled for 2021 and the plumbers union that turns the Chicago River green shows no sign of doing so this year, the easing of restrictions by Governor J B Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot means many restaurants and bars will be happily welcoming customers in time for March’s St. Paddyh’s Day celebrations.

Expect them to ask guests to mask when entering and when their server is present. And check on reservations because they will be operating at 50 percent capacity and shortened stay time.

“The City of Chicago is encouraging St. Patrick’s Day celebrations that follow current city and state health guidelines,” noted a Dept. of Cultural Affairs and Special Events statement.

In addition, the statement said, “The Chicago Loop Alliance is asking downtown buildings to light up green for ShamROCk Chicago, and other neighborhoods are hosting socially distance scavenger hunts and other reimagined programs.”

As an example, Southside Irish Parade committee is hosting a Shamrock our Blocks celebration with signs and decorations. The South Side Irish Parade

“Each year, the South Side Irish Parade draws thousands of people to our community and to our neighborhood businesses.  The parade committee’s goal is to create a plan that gives back to local businesses as well as offer a family-friendly festive way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year,” said 2021 Committee Chair Tim McSweeney

Northwest Side Irish are in the planning process. Visit Northwestsideirish.

As to a few places to hoist a Guinness or chow down on something supposed to be Irish or green, check out the following businesses:


From now until March 17th, Stan’s Donuts (all locations0 is offering all things green. Guests can get Emerald-dipped donuts, Green River Glazed donuts, Green Mint Hot Chocolate, Irish Cream Cold Brew and Mint Cream Cold Brew topped with Cold Foam, Mint Oreo Shakes, and more.


West Loop hotspot PB&J offers a St. Patrick’s Day experience for up to six guests. Starting at 8 a.m. March 13, guests can book these pre-paid packages:

St. Patrick’s Brunch Kit –  1 bottle of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label, Carafes of Green Orange Juice,Green Beer, and guests choice of 2 Brunch Pizzas at $50 per person.

Leprechaun Package – 1 bottle of Jameson, Don Julio Blanco or Ketel One, Green beer, 2 Pizzas, and St. Patrick’s Day party swag at $75 per person.

Dealers Choice –  Guests can order any food or beverage item off PB&J’s menu a la carte with a $75 minimum per person.

In addition to these pre-paid packages, PB&J will also have a “Pot O Gold” pop up bar outside. Guests can purchase Green beer, Guinness, Red Bull Cocktail, Slane shots, and more. As a proud sponsor of the 2021 St. Paddy’s Day 5k and 8K Run/Walk, participants will receive a free Dogfish Head beer, while supplies last.


For two Ireland-born sisters, the reopening of The Dearborn this month comes in time for their home country’s celebrated holiday. Besides iconic Irish dishes like Fish & Chips (which Chef Aaron Cuschieri made and won with on Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay) and a Corned Beef Reuben, The Dearborn will offer specials such as Seafood Chowder, Beef & Lamb Shepherd’s Pie and a Strawberry & Crème Roulade cake. Also  available Guinness on draft, Irish Whiskeys and Irish Coffee.

The Dearborn is also partnering with Vanille Patisserie for those who can’t make it to the Loop but still want to celebrate with Irish fare. Throughout St. Patrick’s week, order a three-course family meal featuring the Seafood Chowder, Shepherd’s Pie and a special Irish Apple Cake with Shamrock Cookies from Vanille for dessert. Available through TOCK from March 10-17 for pick-up at Vanille’s Lincoln Park location or at The Dearborn.

Erin go bragh

Jodie Jacobs


Around Town: In person outings

Hope, a 5-year-old polar bear recently arrived at Brookfield Zoo (Photo by Jim Schulz for CZS)

Hope, a 5-year-old polar bear recently arrived at Brookfield Zoo (Photo by Jim Schulz for CZS)

Some of these places, such as the Chicago Botanic Gardens and Morton Arboretum didn’t really close because they are outside but they want to remind visitors to come back and that their hours may have expanded. Others, such as Brookfield Zoo are re-opening and the Cook County Forest Preserve has March events.

Brookfield Zoo

Visitors will find some new residents at Brookfield Zoo which re-opened March 1, 2021.

Hope, a 5-year-old female polar bear arrived the end of January, 2021 in time for Chicago’s icy weather. Look for Hope in the zoo’s outdoor habitat in the Great Bear Wilderness.

Also look for Sibi and her nearly 2-year-old daughter, Lorena, in the Regenstein Wolf Woods habitat. The two female Mexican wolves recently arrived from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in Socorro, New Mexico..

Sibi and Lorena, two Mexican wolves, are also new Brookfield Zoo residents. (Photo by Jim Schulz for CZS)


While at the zoo, go over to the Dinos Everywhere exhibition that is up March 1 through Sept. 6, 2021. Find the three-story-high Argentinosaurus on the zoo’s West Mall.

But don’t forget to see the grey seals, snow leopards and bald eagles that also can go into their outdoor habitats.

Brookfield Zoo is a Chicago Zoological property at 8400 31st St., Brookfield, IL. For hours, timed-ticket entry and other information go to Plan your visit Brookfield Zoo.


North American river otters in Cook County (Photo by Peter Pekarek)
North American river otters in Cook County (Photo by Peter Pekarek)

Forest Preserves of Cook County

Given that Cook County Forest Preserves covers 70,000 acres, you know there are several opportunities for outdoor fun. Here is a sample of some March events.

Catch the Leprechaun Story Hunt is March 1-3 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. based from the Trailside Museum of Natural History, 738 Thatcher Ave., River Forest. Maple Tree Tapping March 7 at 1:30 p.m., is also at Trailside.

For more Cook County Forest Preserves ideas visit Things to Do.


Spring will soon return to the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. (Photo courtesy of the Morton Arboretum)
Spring will soon return to the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. (Photo courtesy of the Morton Arboretum)

The Morton Arboretum

As with the Brookfield Zoo and the Chicago Botanic Garden visitors Morton Arboretum visitors need timed tickets. See Plan Your Visit for tickets and other information. Wednesday is discount day.

Located  4100 Il Hwy 53 in Lisle, there are plenty of trails and paths for biking and hiking  from 7 a.m. to sunset. In addition, the Visitor Center is open with restrooms from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the Children’s Garden and Maze Garden are open. The Ginko Restaurant will re-open March 12, 2021.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is a perfect place to reflect on nature. (photos by Jodie Jacobs)
The Chicago Botanic Garden is a perfect place to reflect on nature. (photos by Jodie Jacobs)

Chicago Botanic Garden

Yes, you need a timed ticket to visit the Chicago Botanic Garden but the fee if for parking because admission is free. To know the protocols go to Plan Your Visit | Chicago Botanic Garden

Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.. The Garden View Café is open for Grab and Go and the Garden Shop open with a limited number of visitors at one time. The paths are open and busy now that the weather is more spring-like so wear the mask.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe just east of Edens Expressway.

Jodie Jacobs




Maple tree tap opportunities

Tapping maple trees at Ryerson Woods (Photo courtesy of Lake county Forest Preserves)
Tapping maple trees at Ryerson Woods (Photo courtesy of Lake County Forest Preserves)

In the Chicago area, it’s time to tap into the sap that is moving in maple trees.

The Lake County Forest Preserves usually takes folks on guided maple syrup walks, talks and tasting trips. But with the pandemic changing 2020-21 in-person trips, the forest preserves’ staff has come up with a virtual and a self-guided program. They are free but require registration.

Virtual tree tapping  is Feb. 28 from 2 to 3 p.m. Visit virtual education offerings and register online at

The Self-guided program- Maple Syruping runs from March 01 through March 31, 2021. Visit Self-Guided Program-Maple Syruping

” Due to the ongoing pandemic, this year’s programming will be different. “COVID-19 has made us rethink how we can safely offer our maple syrup programs,” said Director of Education Nan Buckardt.

“Though there will be no in-person programming this spring, people will be able to go on self-guided Maple Syrup Hikes through Ryerson, as well as take part in a variety of related virtual programs,” said Buckardt.

Environmental Educator Jen Berlinghof noted, “There are plenty of opportunities to learn about the sweet science of tree physiology and maple sugaring through virtual experiences.”

Berlinghof suggested checking the free monthly “Virtual Nature Club” for the 3:30 p. m. March 3, program that offers first through fourth graders a chance to learn about trees and how the sap collected is used to make sweet syrup.

Ask an Educator Live” will be on Zoom and Facebook March 10 at 7 p.m. where people can bring questions about backyard syruping.

“This should be a popular program. We’ll be showing participants how they can do this historic tradition themselves,” said Berlinghof, who has been running the maple syrup programming for 17 years.

“If your family is ready to hit the trails, we are providing self-guided Maple Syrup Hikes for the entire month of March. Through informational signs, you’ll learn the science behind how trees make sap and how we turn that sap into real maple syrup as you walk along the designated trail at your own pace,” Berlinghof said.

“The temperature dictates what you will see along the trail. The timing for tapping maple trees comes down to temperature–above freezing during the day but still below freezing at night–plus precipitation and the hours of sunlight in a day,” Berlinghof said.

“Changing temperature is what causes the sap to surge upward from the roots toward the branches, where it helps the leaves grow and the buds bloom. Then in the summer, the leaves will produce more sap, which will settle back down in the roots come winter.”

Jodie Jacobs


Around Town: Bolero at Joffrey and Secretaries at Goodman

Goodman Theatre (Photo courtesy of Goodman Theatre)
Goodman Theatre (Photo courtesy of Goodman Theatre)

Chicago Theater and Arts used to list all the shows downtown and neighborhood venues for the coming season. Now, for the 2020-21 season we’re typing in virtual events and shows that are streaming.

Here’s a couple that may be missed if not immediately clicked.

  • “Boléro” presented by The Joffrey Studio Series, streams Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. CT. However, it just extended the streaming through March 2, 2021.

A world premiere with choreography by Yoshihisa Arai, costumes by Temur Suluashvili, Maurice Ravel’s iconic score will be interpreted in the Gerald Arpino Black Box Theater at Joffrey tower. Running time is 16 minutes. To watch visit Boléro | Joffrey Ballet.

  •  “The Secretaries,” a virtual Goodman Theatre reading, premieres Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. CT.

Written by Omer Abbas Salem and directed by Audrey Francis, the story revolves around four women in Aryan drag who want to be the Fuhrer’s personal secretary in 1944.

Running time is 1 hour, 50 minutes with one 10 minute intermission. Registration is needed for this free event. For more information, visit

Related: Chicago Theatre Week

Jodie Jacobs


Celebrate Black and Women’s History Months with imaginative concert and dance videos

M.A.D.D. Rhythms Starinah "Star" Dixon (photo by William Frederking)
M.A.D.D. Rhythms Starinah “Star” Dixon (photo by William Frederking)

Black History Month of February and Women’s History Month of March overlap in creative music and videos when diversity and inclusion are combined.

M.A.D.D. Rhythms, a Chicago tap group whose initials stand for Making A Difference Dancing, premiers “Rhythm Symphony” by Starinah”Star” Dixon on Feb. 28 at 1 p.m. CT and “I Get So Lonely” by KJ Sheldon on March 8 at 1 p.m. CT. Find them on M.A.D.D. Rhythms YouTube.

The videos are part of M.A.D.D. Rhythms’ 20th Anniversary Season’s events that also  include a documentary premiere, M.A.D.D Rhythms’ publishing debut, social media happenings, classes and the Chicago Tap Summit. For more. Information on the 20th Anniversary events visit MADDRhythms.


Then, on March 13 at 7 p.m. CT, look for  “Resilience: Hope, Healing and Harmony” a combination of music and videos that deal with pandemic and political challenges.

Presented by “6Degrees composers” founded by Regina Harris Baiocchi in 2010 to promote and inspire music by women with different traditions, the the program features “War Chant” based on Illinois Poet Laureate’s “War Chant of the Architect.”

Also on the program are the art songs “Journey” and “Things Change” for children’s choir and piano, a 3-D animation by Kyong Mee Choi that is the first part of an animated song cycle and “Doxology” for pipe organ.

For more information visit Hothouseglobal.


Around Town: See Federal Art Project and Outsider art works

"The Dead Tree" Image courtesy of the Illinois State Museum)
“The Dead Tree” Image courtesy of the Illinois State Museum)

With Chicago museums allowed to open with Covid protocols in place, there are new exhibits to see at places off the beaten path.

Among them are the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art and the intuit Center for Intuitive Outsider Art..

“Work People Art,” pieces done under the Works Progress Administration’s Great Depression era Federal Art Project, open at the Ukrainian Institute Feb. 20 and continue through May 16, 2021.

“Nearly 90 years later, these works speak to contemporary American struggles with a Covid-19 pandemic, its accompanying political and economic repercussions, and an era of social upheaval,” says an exhibit statement.

The exhibition is a road show organized by Doug Stapleton, associate curator of art at the Illinois State Museum.

The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art is at 2320 W. Chicago Ave. For more information visit UIMA and  WorkPeopleArtOpening.


Widener - Harvest (Photo courtesy of Intuit)
Widener – Harvest (Photo courtesy of Intuit)

The following weekend, Intuit opens Feb. 26 with a George Widener exhibition that continues through May 9, 2021.

Called “In Focus: George Widener,” it features works from the Victor F. Keen collection.

“George Widener is an exceptional living artist who blurs the boundary between outsider and contemporary art with his works that focus on numbers, dates, cities and codes,” says Intuit President/CEO Debra Kerr.

Intuit is at 756 N. Milwaukee Ave.  For more information visit

Jodie Jacobs


Lyric Opera brings sun and love in virtual concert

Lyric Opera of Chicago (Lyric photo)
Lyric Opera of Chicago (Lyric photo)

If tired of everything Covid and weather related from staying in but wearing a mask and social distancing when going out to weariness of snow tunnels and sloshy streets, look for the free online concert gifted by Lyric Opera of Chicago and Music Director Designate Enrique Mazzola. They think it’s nice to find some sun and love where not expected.

The result is “Sole e Amore” (Sun and Love), a virtual concert of works by familiar Italian composers that will be on U-Tube and Lyric’s Facebook at 6 p.m. Feb. 21, 2021.

Sung by Lyric’s 2020/21 Ryan Opera center Ensemble, Mazzola chose intimate songs—arie da camera, that are not operatic arias, but instead offer new ways to enjoy the genre’s popular composers.

As an example “Un bel dì vedremo” from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly is generally recognizable but not the song, “Terra e mare.”

The concert also includes relatively unknown works by Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, Verdi, Catalani, Mascagni, Leoncavallo, and Respighi.

“This concert is a very beautiful step into the romantic Italian world of singing, passion, and love,” says Mazzola.

For more information visit Lyric Opera of Chicago and Sole e Amore.

Jodie Jacobs

Get Gogh-ing to Chicago’s Immersive Van Gogh experience


Immersive Van Gogh in Chicago (Michael Brosilow photo)
Immersive Van Gogh in Chicago (Michael Brosilow photo)

4 stars


It’s sure to feel like spring is reawakening with glorious sunflowers when you visit the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit, now showing through September 6.

This visually spectacular digital art exhibition invites audiences to “step inside” the iconic works of post-Impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh. It evokes his highly emotional and chaotic inner consciousness through art, light, music and movement.

With more than 50 projectors illuminating over 14,000 square-feet, visitors are   surrounded by Van Gogh’s brushstrokes and colors, including animated details from Self Portrait with Felt Hat (1888), The Bedroom in Arles (1889), Irises (1889) and The Starry Night 1889).

Immersive Van Gogh is a glorious experience that will envelop the visual and audio senses. Classical music, Edith Piaf’s “No Regrets” and other French songs stimulate the mind.

Stand in one of the circles on the main floor, then step up to the balcony to get a higher perspective.

Immersive Van Gogh in Chicago (Michael Brosilow photo)
Immersive Van Gogh in Chicago (Michael Brosilow photo)

The 1-hour Van Gogh exhibit has been designed in accordance with the latest health and safety protocols. Capacity is limited and masks are required at all times. Digitally projected social distancing circles on the gallery floors ensure appropriate spacing.

Ticket prices start at $39.99 for adults ($24.99 for children 16 or younger) with untimed and flexible ticket options available.

Immersive Van Gogh is at the Lighthouse Art Space, 108 Germania Place, Chicago. For more information, visit or call 844-307-4644.

Mira Temkin


Chicago Theatre Week adapts to the pandemic


Chicagoland's more than 200 theater venues include Lookingglass Theatre in the historic Water Works (top left) and the Lyric Opera House, bottom left plus Goodman Theatre in a remodeled former movie theater building and the Yard at Chicago Shakespeare on Navy Pier, bottom right. (J Jacobs photo)
Chicagoland’s more than 200 theater venues include Lookingglass Theatre in the historic Water Works (top left) and the Lyric Opera House, bottom left plus Goodman Theatre in a remodeled former movie theater building and the Yard at Chicago Shakespeare on Navy Pier, bottom right. (J Jacobs photo)

Instead of trying to snag tickets to hot shows at bargain prices during Chicago Theatre Week, the annual event happens online in 2021 from Feb. 25 to March 7.

Coordinated by the League of Chicago Theatres with Choose Chicago the event will switch to digital content and theatre support.

Along with enabling theater-lovers to see shows without changing out of sweats and pjs, it will be a good chance to discover different theatre companies and use money saved to keep Chicago’s vibrant theatre scene alive for another year.

While nothing can truly replace in-person performances, theatres across Chicagoland have been finding new ways to produce their art,” said Deb Clapp, League of Chicago Theatres executive director.

He added, This year, we invite the community to engage with their favorite companies—or discover new ones—during Theatre Week. Until we can welcome audiences back into our theatres, we invite you to learn about, engage with, and support Chicago theatres during Chicago Theatre Week 2021.”

For more information visit  Chicago Theatre Week | Choose Chicago on Feb. 25, 2021.

Jodie Jacobs

More Chicago area museums open

See an in-person exhibit on Nelson Mandela, Women in the Military, Monet or Marvel Comics.

As the number of COVID cases go down Chicago’s museums have begun inviting visitors back, enticing them with special exhibits.

Safety protocols will be followed including timed tickets and, of course, wearing masks. As an old, once popular ad said, “Don’t leave home without it.”

The Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum opened in January. The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois Holocaust Museum and Lake County Dunn Museum are opening in February and the Museum of Science and Industry opens in March.


Illinois Holocaust Museum in skokie (Photo courtesy of the IL Holocaust Museum)
Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie (Photo courtesy of the IL Holocaust Museum)

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

The museum welcomed the public back with free admission on Feb. 3, 2021 and will continue to offer free admission on Wednesday through March. Hours are 9 a.m. -5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday but tickets must be purchased online ahead of time. See safety procedures.

Current main special exhibition is “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” up until about Feb. 20, 2021.

Upcoming special exhibit is “Mandela’s Struggle for Freedom” opening Feb. 20.

For tickets and other information visit ILholocaustmuseum.

The Illinois Holocaust Museum is at 9603 Woods Dr., Skokie, (847) 967-4800.


Art Institute of Chicago (J Jacobs photo)
Art Institute of Chicago (J Jacobs photo)

Art Institute of Chicago

The museum’s blockbuster “Monet and Chicago” seen only as a virtual exhibit after the pandemic closed its doors, is now possible to view in person through June 14, 2021.

The museum reopened Feb. 11 with limited days: Thursday-Monday (closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Member are invited to come from 10 to 11 a.m. and the public from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For tickets and protocols see Visit a Chicago Landmark | The Art Institute of Chicago (

The Art Institute of Chicago is at 111 S. Michigan Ave. and 159 E. Monroe (Modern Wing).


Lake County Dunn Museum (photo by John Weinstein)
Lake County Dunn Museum (photo by John Weinstein)

Bess Bower Dunn Museum

The museum, a Lake County Forest Preserves property, reopens Feb. 13 with online, timed tickets.

“Modifications have been made throughout the galleries and gift shop to minimize touch points and support social distancing,” said Director of Education Nan Buckardt.

Along with displays of Lake County history and artifacts, the museum is currently celebrating Black History Month. Its special exhibit, “Breaking Barriers: Women in the Military,” will be up through June 13, 2021.

Modified hours are 10 am to 3:30 pm, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with visitation time slots available from 10–11:30 am, 12–1:30 pm, and 2–3:30 pm. The galleries and gift shop will be closed between these time slots for cleaning and disinfecting.

The museum will be open on Presidents Day, Monday, Feb.15 and  then will resume its regular schedule.

“We look forward to welcoming visitors back again to the Dunn Museum,” said Angelo Kyle, president of the Lake County Forest Preserves. “Our priority remains to create a safe environment and provide peace of mind for all our visitors and staff while connecting them with Lake County history and culture.”

For tickets, safety protocols and other information visit Bess Bower Dunn Museum. The museum is  at 1899 W. Winchester Rd., Libertyville, (847) 367 6640.


MSI opens with Marvel Universe exhibit (photo courtesy of Marvel and the Museum of Science and Industry)
MSI opens with Marvel Universe exhibit (photo courtesy of Marvel and the Museum of Science and Industry)

Museum Of Science and Industry

MSI as Chicagoans call the museum, will reopen  with the premiere of “Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes,” when it welcomes members on March 4 and the public on March 7.

A major exhibit, the ” Marvel Universe” will contain more than 300 items ranging from sculptures, interactive displays and costumes to props from Marvel films and original comic book pages.

After opening weekend, MSI will be open Wed -Sun  from 9:30 a.m. to 4.p.m. For tickets, protocols, hours and other information visit MSI status.

The Museum of Science and Industry is at 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive.

Jodie Jacobs

Related Chicago museums opening now and next two months – Chicago Theater and Arts