State Rep. Kam Buckner to host ‘coffee talk’ at Dollop June 22

(Published June 13, 2019)

State Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, is asking residents to join him for a “Coffee Talk” on Saturday, June 22 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Dollop, located at 345 E. Ohio St. in Streeterville, to provide an update about the progress that has been made in Springfield during the legislative session.

“Over the past six months, the Illinois legislature made unprecedented strides toward progress for the people of Illinois,” Buckner said. “We implemented a balanced budget that invests more in schools and healthcare, passed a capital plan that will fund improvements to our crumbling infrastructure and ensured that women’s reproductive rights will be protected no matter what happens in Washington. I’m looking forward to discussing what all of this means for our community and hearing feedback about what needs to be done next session.”

Buckner’s 26th District contains all or parts of Bronzeville, Gold Coast, Grand Boulevard, Greater Grand Crossing, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Oakland, South Chicago, South Loop, South Shore, Streeterville and Woodlawn.

Navy Pier Pride Presented by American Airlines returns for fourth annual daylong celebration of love and equality

(Published June 13, 2019)
Navy Pier Pride Presented by American Airlines will soar onto the Pier with flying colors for the fourth consecutive year on June 29, offering a variety of festivities to embrace diversity and celebrate the vibrant LGBTQ culture in Chicago. The full-day free event, from noon to 11 p.m., positions the Pier as an inclusive Pride destination for all ages, with activities ranging from build-your-own Pride bracelets to musical performances by the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus and a colorful and vibrant fireworks display.
As part of its Pride Month tribute, the Pier will be decorated with Pride flags all month long and display the symbolic rainbow colors in the center digital screen of the iconic Centennial Wheel. Further illustrating a visual celebration of diversity and inclusion, two essential tenants of Navy Pier’s values, the Pier will also adorn staircases near the Centennial Wheel and Crystal Gardens in rainbow colors, as well as project a custom “togetherness” wall asset highlighting the Pier’s mission to welcome all.
For the day-of celebration, guests can begin with an opening activity at Chicago Children’s Museum’s Family Resource Activity Station to celebrate LGBTQ families. On the Pier’s South Dock, create a rainbow bracelet as a symbol of Pride and learn about the museum’s LGBTQ inclusion resources that are available for parents and teachers from noon to 2 p.m.
PFLAG Council of Northern Illinois will be on-site from noon to 4 p.m. to speak to their mission of building a foundation of loving families united with LGBTQ people and allies who support one another. PFLAG envisions a world where diversity is celebrated and all people are respected, valued and affirmed inclusive of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, and the Northern Illinois Council is a coalition of chapters within the Chicagoland area. Navy Pier is passionate about partnering with other likeminded nonprofits in the area to promote dynamic and eclectic experiences.
Reading gets revamped from 1 to 2 p.m. during Story Time with Drag Queens presented in partnership with Chicago Children’s Museum, where classic children’s books will be brought to life in fabulous fashion.
A variety of other performers will create an energetic musical atmosphere throughout the event starting at 2 p.m. through 11 p.m. at the Miller Lite Beer Garden.
All guests are welcome to join and follow the festive music processional led by the Lakeside Pride Marching Band from the People’s Energy Welcome Pavilion down the South Dock from 2 to 2:30 p.m. and revel in the musical stylings from the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus during a special performance at the Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion from 3 to 4 p.m.
As the sun sets, enjoy an energetic live performance as part of Navy Pier’s ongoing Wave Wall Wax weekly DJ series featuring reigning queer Chicago female DJ All the Way Kay at the Wave Wall Platform from 4 to 6 p.m.
Coinciding that evening will be the signature Aon Summer Fireworks lighting up the Chicago sky for a 10-minute vibrant display at 10:15 p.m. as a breathtaking closing to the celebration.
Please see below for the full schedule for Navy Pier Pride Presented by American Airlines:

Navy Pier’s free wellness series, Summer Fitness returns to Navy Pier

(Published May 30, 2019)

For the third consecutive year, Navy Pier visitors will have the opportunity to participate in the Pier’s popular outdoor wellness series, Summer Fitness Supported by LifeStart, featuring free workout sessions and yoga classes every Tuesday evening from June 4 through Aug. 20 on the Polk Bros Park Performance Lawn. Led by certified instructors, the series offers fun, action-packed cardio, strength and conditioning exercises during Rush Hour Workouts, followed by stress-reducing poses to calm the mind and energize the spirit during Sunset Yoga.

Rush Hour Workouts include high-energy Werq and Zumba exercises, and are held from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., followed by Sunset Yoga’s Vinyasa Flow classes from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., set to the zenful backdrop of the Chicago skyline at sunset. Guests are encouraged to bring their own mats to the guided yoga sessions, which string postures together and use breathing techniques to create seamless, flowing movement.

For a complete listing of workouts, visit

Northwestern University police to patrol in Streeterville

Northwestern University Police have agreed to expand their scope of operations in Streeterville after talks with aldermen Brendan Reilly and Brian Hopkins.

The officers agreed to patrol the area bounded by East Chestnut Street, East Ontario Street, North Michigan Avenue and North Lake Shore Drive. There are approximately five officers and two patrol cars dispatched throughout Northwest University’s patrol boundaries 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

As part of the agreement, the campus police will act as first responders to 911 calls for incidents on the public right of way. Additionally, university police will now be issuing traffic citations within their boundaries.

“Downtown Chicago, and Streeterville in particular, is home to thousands of businesses and residents, as well as some of the world’s most iconic cultural attractions,” said Second Ward alderman Hopkins. “It’s crucial that we collectively work to ensure their safety and security. I’m proud to join Alderman Reilly, CPD and NUP to develop collaborative, creative solutions that will ultimately lead to enhanced safety measures in the Streeterville community.”

New rooftop lounge, Offshore, opens at Navy Pier

A new, 36,000 square feet rooftop lounge called Offshore opened at Navy Pier in May. Developers say the deck is the largest rooftop lounge in the country. It is on the third floor of the Pier’s Festival Hall and it will be open all year long.

The deck is glass-enclosed in parts and offers firepits and areas for viewing Lake Michigan and the city. A kitchen serves American cuisine and is led by chef MIchael Shrader.

Acron Group developed the rooftop lounge and they plan to add a four-star hotel at the Pier and a deck.

Shedd Aquarium, Lincoln Park Zoo seeking volunteers to care for animals, the earth

Join the Shedd Aquarium, Lincoln Park Zoo, and the Brookfield Zoo for Party for the Planet Spring into Action, going on now through June 8  (World Oceans Day). Sponsored by the Disney Conservation Fund, in partnership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the series of events will provide local communities with opportunities to volunteer and take action for animals and our planet.

The Shedd Aquarium and local Zoos will host a series of volunteer stewardship events, called Family Volunteer Days, throughout the Chicagoland area where volunteers can come together to remove litter from Chicago’s Lake Michigan and Chicago River coastlines, plant native plant species, remove invasive plants, and help collect data through citizen science projects.

Volunteers will receive special prizes for participating, such as reusable water bottles, and tickets to visit the zoos or aquarium and more.  

Dates and locations for the Family Volunteer Days are at

Doorperson of the month: Lavelle Barnett, 850 N. Lake Shore Drive

(Published on May 30, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

Lavelle Barnett has been the doorperson since 1996 and at 850 N. Lake Shore Drive since 2013. He said he particularly likes 850 Lake Shore Drive because of its storied past. Once known as the Lake Shore Athletic Club, it was built in 1927 though by 2005 it sat empty and faced demolition until developers turned it into luxury apartments.

Barnett works first shift, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and he’s the head doorperson, overseeing five other staff members.

“It’s hard work, but we get it done; we’re a team,” Barnett said. “And everybody around here treats each other with respect.”

Barnett said the building has about 240 residents who make up a small community he is happy to be a part of. For most of his career, he’s worked in the Gold Coast and Streeterville areas and he said he’s learned a lot from watching residents.

“I can say this community raised me,” he said. “I learned a lot just watching the way the people I worked for, how they would raise their children. It taught me what makes a good school and how my child can take a test to see how far her academics can go. They taught me life lessons, to save money, be grateful and be good to people who are good to you and all of those little things.”

Barnett said it’s important for the doorperson—especially the first shift doorperson—to set the tone for residents in the morning by being cheerful and helpful. He said he likes that part of the job.

“It gives me pleasure,” Barnett said. “I think I was bred for service. I love providing service, I do.”

Barnett said the work isn’t for everyone, because being a doorman means not thinking about personal issues and not bringing frustration, anger or even pain into work. He recently lost a child, but when he was at work, he focused on the residents.

“You can’t bring it in here,” he said. “I’m speaking from experience. You can’t take it in. You got a lot of people depending on you and you have people who have already had a bad morning and when they come past, they have to see you in good spirits to let them know everything is going to be alright.”

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email with the door person’s name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.

Headache Foundation honors Nobel laureate neurobiologist Eric Kandel

(Published May 30, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

The Chicago-based National Headache Foundation honored pioneering neurobiologist Eric Kandel in May as part of their annual gala fundraiser.

Kandel won a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2000 for his work showing how memories can physically alter the brain. Kandel will be 90 in November, and in an exclusive interview with the News, he talked about his current research.

“I’m studying age-related memory loss,” he said.

Through experiments he has shown older adults can offset memory loss and improve memory through the release of osteocalcin, a hormone released from the bones. The best way to get it is by exercise and movement. Kandel said his discovery changed his life.  

“I walk everywhere,” he said. “I now walk to work, and I walk back (from)work, and I walk more than I used to.”

While Kandel said he personally hasn’t done extensive research in headaches, early in his career he studied spreading depression, which is thought to be the underlying cause of migraines.

“Headaches are a universal problem,” he said.

Among migraine sufferers is his granddaughter. During the awards ceremony, Kandel said might have changed his research if he was aware of  her condition earlier in his career.

“Had I known one of my grandchildren would develop migraine headaches, I would have continued to study migraines,” he said. “But, I’m still relatively young.”

Headache Foundation Executive Chairman Seymour Diamond praised Kandel’s work before awarding him the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“His work has contributed in so many ways to understanding headaches,” Diamond said.

The evening raised $225,000 for headache research.

Lightfoot sworn into office, brings message of optimism

Published May 20, 2019

On May 20, US District Judge Susan Cox swore in Lori Lightfoot as Chicago’s mayor at a ceremony attended by thousands at the Wintrust Arena.

Lightfoot is the city’s first openly gay and African American female mayor, and the significance was not lost of Lightfoot.

“I can’t help but feel the spirit of the late great mayor, Harold Washington,” she said.  Washington was the city’s first African American mayor and he stepped into office in 1983 and left in 1987. Lightfoot’s mention of Washington drew a standing ovation.

But it was a historic day for others, too, as Lightfoot noted. Besides Lightfoot, Melissa Conyears-Ervin was sworn in as city treasurer and Anna Valencia was sworn in as the city clerk. All are African American women and this is the first time voters elected African American females to all three citywide positions.

The city’s aldermen were also sworn in.

For her first speech as mayor, Lightfoot’s message was an optimistic and firm promise to unite the city, and work for the betterment of those who need help. In addition, she promised to end aldermanic privilege after the inauguration ceremony.

“I’m looking ahead to a city of safe streets and strong schools for every child regardless of neighborhood or zip code,” she said. “A city where people want to grow old and not flee. A city of sanctuary against fear where no one must hide in the shadows. A city that is affordable for families and seniors and where every job pays a living wage. A city of fairness and hope and prosperity for the many, not just for the few, a city that holds equity and inclusion as our guiding principles.”

She made reference to recent anti-abortion laws passed in Alabama, and she promised that Chicago would fight for women’s rights.

“We must stand with women all across our country who fear for their basic rights and feel powerless in the face of the hateful legislation designed to control our bodies, our choices,” she said. “We cannot go back – not in Chicago, not as a nation.  We will join together and we will fight.”

This, too, drew thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

She also looked inward, at the problems within City Hall, an institution plagued by a history of corruption and she promised reform. She told the audience after the inauguration, she would sign an executive order ending aldermanic privilege, a tradition that allows aldermen to pass or block city government actions that could hurt or benefit their wards. Critics have charged the system allows for corruption, favoritism and inconsistent application of ordinances around the city.

“It means this,” she said. “It means ending their unilateral and unchecked control over every single thing that goes on in their wards. Aldermen will have a voice but not a veto. This is the time of for a new era of trust.”

This promise drew some of the loudest, most sustained applause.

Following the ceremony, City Hall hosted an open house for the public.

Streeterville stories get told in new podcast

(Published May 7, 2019)

By Jesse Wright, Managing Edito

A new podcast network will launch this summer to tell the stories of Streeterville, and other areas. A podcast is an audio file that can be downloaded onto a phone or other device.

Happenstance, a hyperlocal podcast app, will deliver short stories about little known subjects in various neighborhoods. When users enter an area, the app will geotag users and alert them to local stories.

Stephanie Chopris, the co-founder and managing editor, said the idea started as a class project several years ago when she was a graduate student at the Medill School of Journalism. Years later, she said her project is set to launch.

“We’re shooting to launch in a few neighborhood this summer,” Copris said. “The neighborhoods are River North, Streeterville and Gold Coast. We might wrap another neighborhood into that, but those are the three target neighborhoods right now.”

At present Chopris is producing stories and seeking new stories to tell.

“We primarily focus on four editorial pillars of food, art, landmarks and sports and games,” she said. “All of our categories are flexible and we still want to cover it even if it doesn’t fall into one of those categories.”

She said sports and games can include things like yachting, darts and arcade games and the landmarks don’t need to be historic.

“They can just be places that people appreciate an have been in the area for a while,” Chopris said.  

So far, Chopris said she has Streeterville stories about Coco Pazzo Café and the Gold Star Sardine Bar, though more are coming.

Anyone interesting in suggesting a story can email Chopris at and the website is

What to do with mom after brunch is served

(Published on April 29, 2019)

By Angela Gagnon – Staff Writer

This year Mother’s Day is May 12, and there’s no shortage of events, activities and entertainment to enjoy in downtown Chicago that will leave mom feeling like a queen. Check out our list of local happenings and choose the perfect way to honor mom.

Take mom out to the ballgame. The Cubs take on the Milwaukee Brewers May 10-12 at Wrigley Field. Buy mom some peanuts and Cracker Jack and watch the Cubs bring home the W.

Give mom the gift of laughter at The Comedy Bar’s Comedy Brunch on Mother’s Day at noon on Sunday, May 12 at 500 N LaSalle (third floor). Enjoy a comedy show and bottomless mimosas with mom. Tickets are $30. Ages 17 and up. More information is at

Broadway in Chicago features “RENT” from May 10-19 at the James M. Nederlander Theater at 24 W. Randolph. Treat mom to a 20th anniversary tour show on Mother’s Day at 2 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. Recommended for ages 12 and up. Get tickets at

Eataly’s Kid’s Kitchen hosts “Bring Your Mama: Mother’s Day Parent/Child Pasta Making” from 12:30-2 p.m. on May 12 at its LaScuola, located on the 2nd floor of the store at 43 E. Ohio St. This special class invites children ages 6-12 and their mothers to learn the art of pasta making. For more information and tickets, which start at $75, visit

Get in an early morning workout for a good cause at Susan G. Komen’s 22nd annual Race for the Cure. Run or walk the 5K at 9am on May 12 at Montrose Harbor. More information can be found at

Race for the Cure participants gather in 2018 for the annual 5K on Mother’s Day. Photo courtesy Race for the Cure Chicago

Explore the Spring Flower Show with mom at Garfield Park Conservatory located at 300 N Central Park Ave. This year’s show, Understory: Layers of Light, focuses on plants that thrive below the forest canopy and runs through May 12. The conservatory is open 9am – 5pm on Sundays and admission is free with suggested donation.

Try your hand at cupcake decorating at a Flower Cupcake Icing class from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 11 at Magnolia Bakery in Block 37 at 108 N. State St. Learn how to make beautiful flower cupcakes with classic American buttercream in a variety of pastel colors in time for Mother’s Day. For more info and to register for the class, visit

Flower Cupcake Icing class at Magnolia Bakery makes the perfect edible treats just in time for Mother’s Day. Photo courtesy Magnolia Bakery

Head to Lincoln Park Zoo’s Cafe Brauer (2021 N. Stockton Drive)  for a special Brunch at the Zoo on Sunday May 12 between 9 a.m.-2 p.m. You can also stroll around the gardens along the zoo’s boardwalk or head into the zoo to get a closer look at the animals. For more information and tickets, visit (Cost is $45 for people 13 and over, $20 for children ages 1-12, under 1 is free).

Enjoy an energizing Core Power Yoga class followed by Brunch at 10 a.m. Sunday, May 5, at Pinstripes in Streeterville located at 435 E Illinois St. Or treat mom to a leisurely Mother’s Day Brunch between 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday May 12 and enjoy some bowling or Bocce afterward. More info can be found at

Hop aboard a cruise on Lake Michigan leaving from Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave. Take the whole family aboard Odyssey and enjoy a delicious meal, entertainment and amazing views. On Sunday, May 12, choose from breakfast, lunch or dinner cruises with music and dancing or an architecture themed brunch cruise. Prices vary. More information can be found at Cruises also offers Mother’s Day cruises for brunch and dinner with skyline views, music and games. Prices vary. Find more info at

Head over to Maggie Daley Park for some outdoor rock climbing and take in the spectacular view of the city skyline. If the weather isn’t cooperating, check out First Ascent in Block 37 located at 108 N. State St. suite 420 for some indoor rock climbing. Take a climbing class or perfect your bouldering in this world class facility run by local Chicago climbers. Prices vary. Visit for more information.

Historic anchor adrift in Streeterville

(Published in April 29, 2019

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

Streeterville was undergoing a real estate boom in 2007 and developers were looking toward a bright future when a piece of the past surfaced for the first time in more than a century at the corner of Illinois Street and Grand Avenue.

It was an anchor and it was 35 feet underground.

Realtor and neighborhood booster Gail Spreen believes it could be a relic from George “Cap” Streeter’s boat—a direct link to the eponymous founder of Streeterville.

“It’s the same style anchor that’s on Cap Streeter’s boats,” Spreen said.

Streeter famously helped settle the area when his boat ran aground on a sandbar. From there, the silt and sand from the river and lake built up, along with dumped debris, to create real estate.

Chicago History Museum vice president of education John Russick said there may be no way to say for sure whether the anchor came from Streeter’s boat, but it is an important artifact. It represents a time before developers built “modern” Chicago and offers a potential link to the beginning of that development, he said.

Russick said there’s no doubt the Streeter story is true. Streeter was sued in court and eventually evicted from Streeterville, so court records document his history. But in other areas, the historical record is sparse. While there are photos of Streeter, Russick said there are no known, verifiable pieces of his boat.

“I’ve never heard of anything that was found of the boat. We have some photographs … so we know what it looks like,” Russick said. “But no, we have no physical evidence of his boat. With the possible exception of the anchor.”

Now, above ground at last, the old anchor needs a home.

Spreen acquired the anchor in 2011 from the man who owned the property where it was uncovered. She’s hopeful someone will help find a permanent home for the artifact.

“Someday this anchor is going to go someplace where people appreciate it,” she said. “But until we have a location for it, it’s staying with me.”

Covered in rust and barnacles, the anchor is in two pieces and attached to a 35-foot chain. Spreen said she’d like to see it near the eight-foot statue of Streeter, at the corner of McClurg and Grand near Yolk, where it was found.

“The best case would be where we wanted it, next to Cap Streeter,” she said.

This historic anchor might once have belonged to Cap Streeter. Photo courtesy Gail Spreen

The Langham offers calligraphy courses with brunch

(Published April 29, 2019)

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

The Langham is hosting a calligraphy workshop at the restaurant Travelle, 330 N. Wabash Ave.

The brunch course is $65 and includes food, a glass of champagne and all calligraphy supplies.

The course premiered in April and student Aimee Gaspari said she attended the workshop because she’s getting married and wanted to hand-letter wedding invitations.

It’s also a hobby for her.

“I’ve been doing it for about a year,” Gaspari said. “And I thought it would be fun to take a course from someone with more experience than me.”

Workshop instructor Ricki DiCola said the class is geared toward the novice. She believes anyone can learn to write in calligraphy both for fun or to use it as a skill.

“A lot of brides like to DIY their weddings and so that’s how they begin doing calligraphy,” she said.

DiCola, a middle school teacher, said the art form can be appreciated by anyone, even if they don’t have a wedding approaching.

“This is what I do for fun,” she said.

The next class is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 18  and there is a workshop June 1 as well. To register, call 312-923-7705.

Besides the calligraphy workshop, the Langham is also offering a pastry dessert plating brunch workshop July 29 and a phone photography class with food photographer Huge Galdones Aug. 17. Both classes are from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

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