Water department to install new mains soon

(Published May 14, 2019)

By Jesse Wright, managing editor

This May, the Department of Water Management and Reliable Contracting and Equipment Company will begin the work to install 1,056 feet of new 12-inch water main along Fairbanks Court, between Chicago Avenue and Ontario Street. Also, the water main will be replaced on a portion of Superior Street stretching 125 feet to the west of Fairbanks Court.

The old water main dates back to 1914 and needs to be replaced. All work is expected to be completed by mid-August 2019, which would include full street restoration. Dates may change depending on weather and other factors. 

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 stephanie@happenstanceapp.com and the website is happenstanceapp.com.

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 comedybar.com

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 broadwayinchicago.com

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 www.eataly.com

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 komenchicago.org

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 eventbrite.com.

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 eventbrite.com (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 pinstripes.com/chicago.

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 odysseycruises.com.Spirit Cruises also offers Mother’s Day cruises for brunch and dinner with skyline views, music and games. Prices vary. Find more info at spiritcruises.com.

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 firstascentclimbing.com for more information.

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.

Streeterville man’s new book tells history through the cemetery

(Published April 29, 2019)

By Jesse Wright, staff writer

Streeterville photographer and author Larry Broutman knows a thing or two about cemeteries.

His newest book about the city’s cemeteries, “Chicago Eternal,” in April was awarded a silver award in the regional book category by the Independent Book Publisher’s Association. .

For Broutman, cemeteries aren’t maudlin but rather they are instructive.

“The history of Chicago can be quite well told by walking through the cemeteries and looking at Chicagoans who have passed away,” he said.

His previous book, “Chicago Monumental,” focuses on the city’s monuments. After that book was published, Broutman said he began thinking that many monuments are in cemeteries. So, he went searching.  

“Some of the monuments were done by world famous sculptors,” he said. “I had been in a couple of cemeteries when I realized, ‘Wow there are some pretty incredible stories there.’”

So, he began to tell those stories.

His research took him to over 30 cemeteries across Cook County and when he wrapped up, he had 300 stories.

“It’s a hefty book and a time consuming one, but I am retired,” he said.

Before going into a cemetery, Broutman explained he talked with the keeper first.

“I always was careful about the respectful aspect of it and first I consulted the cemetery staff and told them what I was doing, and I asked them if photography was OK,” he said.

Broutman said almost every cemetery was fine with the project as he set about taking photos of grave markers, monuments, tombs and war memorials.

Streeterville residents might already be familiar with Broutman’s work as it adorns some of the walls of the Lurie Children’s Hospital. Broutman said he’s been an avid photographer for years, and he has travelled through Africa taking nature photos.

Several years ago, the Lurie Hospital asked him to take photos of Chicago scenes, so he mixed them together with his African photos. The result included  a tiger lying in the flowers along Michigan Avenue and he replaced the horses on a horse drawn carriage with zebras. Now these photos decorate the Lurie’s walls.

The project also sparked another interest, photographing the city.

“Once I did that I couldn’t stop,” he said. “I spent another year taking Chicago scenes all over the city.”

Then, of course, he moved on to the grave yard.

“Chicago Eternal” is available at Amazon.com for $43.25.

Summer fun for all: Parents have plenty to choose from in local summer camps

(Published April 29, 2019)

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

With summer around the corner, schools, museums and even watersport companies are offering summer camps for kids.

At Camp GEMS, kids can explore the city through a six-week program that mimics the school’s curriculum, although the program is open to all kids, even non-students. Through the camp, kids explore the whole city and the build and design the city features. Each week is $475 or $2,700 for six weeks. Camp Gems is open to kids 3-12.

Taneal Sanders, a GEMS teacher, said Camp GEMS aims to benefit the entire student.

“We focus on keeping the kids’ minds and bodies active,” she said.

Each week has a different theme, and students learn lessons based on each theme. The first week is “who we are,” the second weeks is “where are we in place and time,” the third week is “how we organize ourselves, the fourth week is, “how the world works,” the fifth week is “sharing the planet” and the final week is “how we express ourselves.”

Throughout the camp, kids explore the city, design model cities, visit a theater and visit various markets and festivals in the city.

“On Fridays, we do a share-out where all age groups come together and we kind of have a little assembly where we share what we learned during the week,” Sanders said.  

Last year, kids took a water taxi to Chinatown and on another day they visited the Field Museum.

“We don’t just stay right in the neighborhood,” Sanders said. “With the younger campers, we stay close to school, but for the older kids, we venture out on public transportation.”

In addition to the cultural diversity, Sanders said Camp GEMS is staffed by GEMS teachers and the ratio is five students to one teacher, ensuring the kids are learning as well as enjoying the city.

“It’s not just for GEMS students,” Sanders said. “We love that it brings in different people and different perspectives.”

A variety of other day and week camps are available for kids.

Sailing and STEM camp

The Chicago Park District is hosting its annual sailing and STEM camp in May, June and July.

Kids can learn to sail at Monroe Harbor, with no experience necessary. The camp is for 5th-8th grade students in Chicago and it requires a $250 donation, though low-income applicants can get in free. To apply for a spot, visit endeavourchicago.org.

The four day-sessions (Monday-Thursday) go beyond  sailing. Students will learn science, technology, engineering and math curriculum. The course opens May 4 and meets every Saturday at 9 a.m. A June camp runs from June 24 to Aug. 1.

Visit EndeavourChicago.org for more details and to apply online. Scholarships are available.

Urban Kayaks paddle and kayak camp

Urban Kayaks summer paddle and kayak camp kicks off July 29. The camp runs weekly from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and is aimed at kids ages 10 to 16. The course, at $550 per week with a 25 percent discount for siblings, is located at Monroe Harbor. For more information, visit urbankayaks.com or call 312-965-0035

Navy Pier’s Wiggleworms music program

While not a camp, Navy Pier is again hosting Wiggleworms, a free music program for children every Friday beginning June 21.

Wiggleworms, Old Town School of Folk Music’s early childhood music program, introduces young children and their families to a musical world. The program is at the Polk Brothers Park stage and it runs Fridays from 10 to 11:45 a.m.

Summer fun for all: Parents have plenty to choose from in local summer camps

(Published by April 29, 2019)

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

With summer around the corner, schools, museums and even watersport companies are offering summer camps for kids.

At Camp GEMS, kids can explore the city through a six-week program that mimics the school’s curriculum, although the program is open to all kids, even non-students. Through the camp, kids explore the whole city and the build and design the city features. Each week is $475 or $2,700 for six weeks. Camp Gems is open to kids 3-12.

Taneal Sanders, a GEMS teacher, said Camp GEMS aims to benefit the entire student.

“We focus on keeping the kids’ minds and bodies active,” she said.

Each week has a different theme, and students learn lessons based on each theme. The first week is “who we are,” the second weeks is “where are we in place and time,” the third week is “how we organize ourselves, the fourth week is, “how the world works,” the fifth week is “sharing the planet” and the final week is “how we express ourselves.”

Throughout the camp, kids explore the city, design model cities, visit a theater and visit various markets and festivals in the city.

“On Fridays, we do a share-out where all age groups come together and we kind of have a little assembly where we share what we learned during the week,” Sanders said.  

Last year, kids took a water taxi to Chinatown and on another day they visited the Field Museum.

“We don’t just stay right in the neighborhood,” Sanders said. “With the younger campers, we stay close to school, but for the older kids, we venture out on public transportation.”

In addition to the cultural diversity, Sanders said Camp GEMS is staffed by GEMS teachers and the ratio is five students to one teacher, ensuring the kids are learning as well as enjoying the city.

“It’s not just for GEMS students,” Sanders said. “We love that it brings in different people and different perspectives.”

A variety of other day and week camps are available for kids.

Sailing and STEM camp

The Chicago Park District is hosting its annual sailing and STEM camp in May, June and July.

Kids can learn to sail at Monroe Harbor, with no experience necessary. The camp is for 5th-8th grade students in Chicago and it requires a $250 donation, though low-income applicants can get in free. To apply for a spot, visit endeavourchicago.org.

The four day-sessions (Monday-Thursday) go beyond  sailing. Students will learn science, technology, engineering and math curriculum. The course opens May 4 and meets every Saturday at 9 a.m. A June camp runs from June 24 to Aug. 1.

Visit EndeavourChicago.org for more details and to apply online. Scholarships are available.

Urban Kayaks paddle and kayak camp

Urban Kayaks summer paddle and kayak camp kicks off July 29. The camp runs weekly from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and is aimed at kids ages 10 to 16. The course, at $550 per week with a 25 percent discount for siblings, is located at Monroe Harbor. For more information, visit urbankayaks.com or call 312-965-0035

Navy Pier’s Wiggleworms music program

While not a camp, Navy Pier is again hosting Wiggleworms, a free music program for children every Friday beginning June 21.

Wiggleworms, Old Town School of Folk Music’s early childhood music program, introduces young children and their families to a musical world. The program is at the Polk Brothers Park stage and it runs Fridays from 10 to 11:45 a.m.

A look at the numbers behind the Navy Pier fireworks


(Published April 29, 2019)

By Elisa Shoenberger, Staff Writer

With the warmer weather comes Navy Pier fireworks.

May 25 is the start of the annual Navy Pier fireworks and Melrose Pyrotechnics will again produce the weekly displays, just as they have for the past 15 years.

For the audience, it’s 10 minutes of fun filled with fire, smoke and dazzling colors all set to music. But the behind the scenes is real work and somebody has to do it. One of those somebodies is Jonathan Gesse, a soundtrack producer with Melrose Pyrotechnics.

Gesse said “a minimum of 30-hours preparation goes into each Navy Pier display, which includes everything from soundtrack design, choreography, labeling, packaging, setup, product testing and transportation.”

The day of the show, five technicians set up about 10 hours beforehand, including monitoring the equipment in advance of the show.

Each show is a “unique pyromusical experience,” Gesse said. “Our team of choreographers uses industry software to ‘script’ each display according to the musical soundtrack by listening to the music and building scenes of light and color.” Once the show is ready to start, Melrose sends a “coded radio signal from Navy Pier to the fireworks crew, which the firing computer receives and synchronizes itself to the music that plays through the speakers at Navy Pier.”

Melrose gets fireworks from all over the world including China, Italy and Spain. They use 500 new products each year and more than 1,400 feet of XLR cable for the shows.

Gesse said the heights achieved by fireworks depends on the diameter of the shell. Three- and four-inch shells will generally explode from about 300 to 400 feet in the sky, and 10 inch shells will rise to well over 10,000 feet in the air before they break.

“At Navy Pier, we use aerial shells ranging from two-and-a-half inches up to 10 inches in diameter,” Gesse said.

This year, there will be 31 firework performances, each Wednesday and Saturday from May 25 to Aug. 31 with additional shows July 4 and New Year’s Eve. Wednesday fireworks are at 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays are at 10:15 p.m., weather dependent.

The displays last 10 minutes while the July 4 and New Year’s Eve displays last 15 minutes. Last year, CBS reported that nearly 100,000 people attended the July 4 celebration and that the fireworks performance had 2,000 firework shells go off with “300 different effects.”

Stay inside and get outside through the MCA’s ‘The Great Outdoors’ performance piece this weekend

For the Streeterville News

(Published March 20, 2019)

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago will present “The Great Outdoors,” a performance by writer-director Annie Dorsen that takes place within an inflatable dome on the theater stage where the public can stretch out on mats for a journey through ‘inner space.’

A lone performer, Kaija Matiss, reads aloud comments culled from internet discussion boards 4chan and Reddit in the past 24 hours, giving voice to the thoughts of countless individuals tapping away at their keyboards in isolation. With a unique stellar star show designed by Dorsen in collaboration with Ryan Holsopples, “The Great Outdoors” connects ideas of infinity and the unknown to today’s networked, hyper-connected technologies, and reflects on the cosmic nature of the internet. The Great Outdoors takes place at the MCA from Thursday to Saturday, March 21-23, at 7:30 p.m., with an additional 2 pm show on Sunday, March 24.

“The Great Outdoors” is a performance that changes each time it takes place, using a stream of that day’s internet comments that are fed through an algorithm produced by Dorsen herself. The algorithm sorts messages by their density, and operates independently of human intervention, delivering a flood of personal and collective thoughts that the artist calls the ‘internet’s id’ – a projection of ourselves unrestrained by ego, and protected by anonymity.

The Great Outdoors” invites audiences to consider the internet as both ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ space, at once a digital reflection of personal life and a connection to the world beyond the body and its physical location. Dorsen describes the internet as “a new Romantic landscape where we can go exploring, as explorers did in the nineteenth century.” As audiences imagine the internet’s infinite possibilities, musician Sébastien Roux mixes a live score on stage, experimenting with electronic and ambient sounds inspired by the theory that the universe is always expanding.

“The Great Outdoors”takes place in the Edlis Neeson Theater at the MCA and seating is limited. Tickets are $30 and can be reserved at www.mcachicago.org or by calling the box office at 312-397-4010.

The Joffrey Ballet’s Winning Works Showcases Diversity

By Stephanie Racine

The Joffrey Ballet presented its ninth annual Winning Works showcase this weekend, March 9 and 10at the Edlis Neeson Theater, located inside the Museum of Contemporary Art. Winning Works featured four choreographic competition-winning ballets—all by ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American) artists. 

Líneas, choreographed by Edgar Zendejas, is an intricate and stunningly complex piece. Groups of dancers clothed in simple white costumes, weave in and out with one another, as individuals and smaller groups momentarily break from the crowd. The modern presentation is juxtaposed with a classical composition, filled with strings and piano. Tommie-Waheed Evans’s Coup de Grâce is futuristically dynamic and frantically beautiful. Flashing lights, frenzied pas de deux, and drums bring a sense of doom. The ominous atmosphere is ultimately overcome by the dancers uniting together.

Vessels Bearing focuses on rice and the rice bowl being an essential part of Asian culture. Xiang Xu’s ballet uses rice bowls to enhance the production. Dancers bow to the bowls in a circle around a soloist in an unassuming nude leotard. The bowls are slid around the stage, adding to the musical arrangement. Bowls adorn the stage, as the dancers leap around them. To conclude, the soloist moves in a hypnotically robotic way as she exists. Give the People What They Want, by Marissa Osato,  explores humanity’s societal expectations, and how it can be a struggle to conform. Patterned-clad dancers perform together in unison with big smiles on their faces. A soloist struggles against what is expected of her, turning her costume inside-out while she violently moves across the stage. The others attempt to help her to no avail, but ultimately turn their clothing inside out as well.

To learn more about The Joffrey and Winning Works, visit Joffrey.org/winningworks.

1 2 3 5