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Fourth of July: Five things to do

Posted on July 1st, 2015 by

Still making plans for the Fourth of July? It’s not too late. Here are five things to do to celebrate the holiday in style:

Chicago History Museum 56th Annual Fourth of July Celebration

This family-friendly event features patriotic music, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, and a children’s costume parade led by the world’s tallest Uncle Sam. The event begins at 10 a.m. and is free of cost with no reservations required. The museum itself will open to the public at noon and is free of charge for Illinois residents that day. For more information, visit chicagohistory.org/planavisit/upcomingevents/family-events.

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Windy City RibFest

Backyard barbecues are often a feature of the Fourth, but for those looking to avoid the cookout but still eat delicious food, Windy City RibFest is the answer. Featuring several nationally-renowned barbecue joints as well as local favorites, this fest will surely satisfy the taste buds while keeping attendees entertained with music, beer, and a play area for kids. The fest is at Lawrence Avenue and Broadway in Uptown, and is easily accessible via the Red Line and #36 Broadway bus. For more information, visit chicagoevents.com/event.cfm?eid=190.

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Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Whether you’re a Northsider or Southsider, celebrate America’s birthday with America’s pastime as the Cubs and White Sox are both in town. It all starts on the South Side with the Sox and Orioles at 1:10 p.m. The first 10,000 fans will receive a Bobby Jenks bobble head ahead of the much-anticipated 2005 World Series reunion later this month. Things move to the North Side in the evening as the Cubs play the Marlins at 6:15 p.m. After the game, the Cub’s will have their first post-game fireworks show in the team’s history. Both U.S. Cellular Field and Wrigley Field are accessible via the CTA Red Line. For more information, visit whitesox.com or cubs.com.

100406-N-1232M-001  CHICAGO (April 6, 2010) Sailors assigned to various commands at Naval Station Great Lakes unfurl an American flag before the 2010 home opening Chicago White Sox baseball game at U.S. Cellular Field. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Thomas Miller/Released)

A Chicago White Sox baseball game at U.S. Cellular Field. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Thomas Miller/Released)

Fireworks

Annual fireworks shows will be taking place throughout the area as the country celebrates its founding. If you cant make it to the show at Navy Pier, here are some other local shows to check out:
Evanston – Sheridan Road and Church St., 9:15 p.m.
Winnetka – Duke Childs Field, 1321 Willow Road, 9:15 p.m.
Skokie – Niles West High School, 5701 Oakton St., dusk (3D fireworks)

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African/Caribbean International Festival of Life

This West Loop festival, now in its 23rd year, allows for attendees to celebrate being citizens of the world through international food, music, crafts, and more. Tickets for adults start at $17. For more information, visit festivaloflife.biz.

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Calling All Deadheads

Posted on July 1st, 2015 by

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Anthems of the red, white, and blue are not the only ballads that are going to be rocking downtown Chicago this holiday weekend as the Grateful Dead will make their final appearance at Soldier Field for three more performances. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest bands of the last half a century, the Field Museum of Chicago is hosting several events honoring these rock ‘n’ roll legends.

“All the Years Combine: Deadhead Treasures from the Grateful Dead Archive,” will be an exhibition of Grateful Dead memorabilia detailing material from every part of their illustrious career in the music industry. The exhibit will also document the unique bond between the band and their immense group of loyal followers with correspondences, newsletters, drawings, tickets, backstage passes, and ticket requests.

On the second of the three days that the Grateful Dead will be performing, Jazz and Colors: Wave that Flag will feature 10 local jazz ensembles covering the extensive Grateful Dead songbook. On Saturday July 4th, Deadheads and casual fans alike will have the chance to explore the “All the Years Combine” exhibit to the ambiance of the cover bands. The performers will go on between 12:30 p.m. – 3 p.m. leading up to the main show at Soldier Field later that night.

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The Field Museum is also putting on the 50th Anniversary Party, which will be a 21 and over ticketed event on the southeast terrace of the museum. This will be the closest spot possible to the actual show in Soldier Field for those wanting to hear the show from close proximity while enjoying food, drinks, music, and celebrating the Grateful Dead’s landmark 50 years in music.

For those wanting an exclusive party to preface the actual show, Putting the Band Back Together: Dead Style, will be a VIP pre-show celebration starting five hours before each show in Soldier Field. Featuring craft beer selections from Two Brothers Brewery, Coppola wines and food, this event will include a $12 food voucher and the beer and wine is covered in the cost of a ticket. Tribute band Uncle John’s Band will be performing and singer songwriter David Gans is expected to make an appearance as well.

For more information on the Field Museum and the “All the Years Combine” exhibit, visit fieldmuseum.org/at-the-field/programs/everything-dead-field-museum. For ticketing and other information for the 50th Anniversary Party visit eventbrite.com/e/everything-is-dead-50th-anniversary-party-tickets-16766941373. Finally, for more information on the Putting the Band Back Together VIP party, go to eventbrite.com/e/putting-the-band-back-togetherdead-style-tickets-17210581312.

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Bring the House Down with the Chosen Few DJs

Posted on July 1st, 2015 by

chosen fewThose looking for a festival that will bring the house down, the Chosen Few Picnic Weekend is for you. Nicknamed the “Woodstock of House Music,” this festival is marking its 25th year celebrating Chicago’s homegrown dance genre.

The centerpiece of the four-day festival will be on the Fourth of July, when the Chosen Few Old School Reunion Picnic will be held in Jackson Park on the city’s South Side. While starting as a small get together amongst friends from the earliest days of house music, the event has grown into one of the largest house music festivals in the world, attracting over 40,000 people per year.

Saturday will feature performances from the Chosen Few themselves along with Stephanie Mills, Evelyn “Champagne” King and Cory Daye, plus guest DJs Masters At Work duo Louie Vega and Kenny Dope Gonzalez, Derrick Carter, Stan Zeff, Keith Fobs and Greg Gray.

For those who can’t make it to the main event, the group will kick off festivities Thursday night with a show at Promontory Point, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave., in Hyde Park. Doors open at 8 p.m. with the cover being $10 before 10 p.m. and $15 after.

Saturday night will feature two after parties featuring the Chosen Few, one on the North Side at Smartbar, 3730 N. Clark St.,  in Wrigleyville, and one on the South Side at the Hebrew Culture Center, 7130 S. South Chicago Ave. in Greater Grand Crossing. The doors open at 10 p.m. for both.

Sunday will feature a sendoff until next year at evilOlive, 1551 W. Division St. in Wicker Park, from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. Tickets for Saturday are still on sale with prices starting at $25 per person. Children under the age of 12 gain free admission. For more information, visit chosenfewdjs.com.

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Celebrate Independence Day with a Bang

Posted on July 1st, 2015 by

NavyPierFireworks

With this weekend being headlined by the impending celebration of our country’s independence, there is surely any number of events to attend but there’s only one Aon Summer Fireworks show at Navy Pier.

The fireworks run biweekly on Wednesday and Saturday night’s all summer through Labor Day, but the July 4th edition will be on a whole other level, having their normal Saturday start time moved from 10:15 p.m. up to 9:30 p.m. to accommodate the additional holiday crowds.

Entry to Navy Pier for the fireworks is free as always, however with the crowd size expected to be much larger than normal, they’re expecting to exceed the pier’s capacity and will eventually turn guests away and subsequently will not allow re-entry. While there will be plenty of other chances to get to see the fireworks this summer, be sure to get there early on Saturday and lock down your spot to watch the festivities.

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Also featured at Navy Pier will be the 2nd Annual Freedom Fest. It is back by popular demand for its second annual July 4th celebration because honestly what Independence Day party would be complete without some good beer and barbecue. With a live DJ providing some patriotic tunes along with the cocktails and barbecue offerings, this event will be held on the Navy Pier rooftop and you need to purchase a ticket in advance.

Odyssey Cruises Thanksgiving Navy Pier

If the rooftop Freedom Fest isn’t what you’re looking for in your 4th festivities but you still want an exclusive, fun, unique view of the fireworks, buy a ticket and hop on one of the many cruises that will be watching the sky light up from the lake. Leaving specifically from Navy Pier are the Odyssey, the Spirit of Chicago, and Mystic Blue cruises which will all serve dinner as well as getting an up close view of the amazing show from the water.

For more information on the Aon Summer Fireworks July 4th Celebration and ways to prepare visit here. For ticket information for the 2nd Annual Freedom Fest visit chitownevents.com/event/chicago/navy-pier-rooftop/the-2nd-annual-freedom-fest-at-navy-piers-rooftop. You can find information on Independence Day cruises at the following links: Odyssey, Spirit of Chicago, Mystic Blue.

—Sponsored Post

 

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Terminator is Back at IMAX

Posted on June 24th, 2015 by

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Anyone looking for a brief escape from the outdoors to a dystopian future with evil robots should look no further than “Terminator: Genisys,” which opens this Tuesday at Navy Pier’s IMAX Theatre.

Being billed a reboot, this version features humans being attacked on two fronts: the past and present. In order to save his mother’s life, John Connor sends his trusted lieutenant back in time. Yet, when the lieutenant gets to the past, things do not seem right. For one, the Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is now an ally and protector of Sarah Connor.

Twists aside, the crystal-clear images, coupled with IMAX’s customized theatre geometry and powerful digital audio, create a unique environment that will make audiences feel as if they are in the movie.

For those who don’t want to wait until Tuesday to have a unique theater experience, several pictures are currently being shown at the pier. Animal lovers and families with young children may want to check out “Pandas: The Journey Home,” which follows the efforts to protect the vulnerable species as they get reintroduced to the wild.

Science fiction fans and thrill seekers can still catch “Jurassic World,” which is the fourth installment of the series and set two decades after the first disaster. You’d think they’d learn the first time.

Weather buffs will love Sean Casey’s film “Tornado Alley.” Casey starred in Discovery’s show “Storm Chasers” for five seasons where his quest to film into the heart of a twister with his Tornado Intercept Vehicle was thoroughly documented. This film is the amazing result of that mission.

The theater is located on Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.) and features films at all times of day. For more information, visit imax.com/oo/navy-pier-imax.

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Enjoy 360 Chicago’s New Museum-Quality Look

Posted on June 24th, 2015 by

360 CHICAGO exhibition

We can all agree that waiting in line for anything is the worst, but 360 Chicago might have discovered a way for people to desire a slower line with their new concourse-level exhibit.

New visitors to 360 Chicago at the John Hancock Center will experience a museum-quality exhibit about Chicago and its neighborhoods as they wait in line. Bronzeville, Bucktown, Hyde Park, Lakeview, Logan Square, Old Town, Pilsen, Wicker Park, and Wrigleyville are each represented through iconic images, facts, sounds, and more along with history of Chicago in general with their new short video. The beauty and insight that this exhibit provides makes waiting in line seem a lot faster.

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The new concourse isn’t the only addition at 360 Chicago. At the observation deck new stadium-style seating has been installed to enjoy the breathtaking views from the 94th floor. Guests can enjoy drinks and bites from the Architect’s Corner where they also have coffee, gelato, and artisanal snacks. The new updates really add to the atmosphere of the views of the skyline, but of course there is no more thrilling of a view than from the Tilt! attraction.

360 Chicago is open 365 days a year from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and it is located at 875 N. Michigan Ave. The entrance is $19 for adults and $13 for children. To experience the Tilt! it is an extra $7. For more information visit 360chicago.com.

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Hot Doug Returns for Dog Dayz of Summer Festival

Posted on June 24th, 2015 by

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Those longing for just one more taste of Hot Doug’s encased meats and duck fat fries are in luck as owner and hot dog aficionado Doug Sohn is bringing back his famed stand this weekend only.

The stand’s super fans and hot dog lovers alike can find Sohn and his dogs at the Dog Dayz of Summer, a festival hosted by Sohn along with Goose Island Brewery this Saturday and Sunday. Festival goers will have their choice of craft beers to wash down their encased meats with, ranging from Matilda and 312 Urban Wheat to Blue Line and Green Line.

Along with dogs and the suds to wash them down, the event will also feature live music featuring bands such as Freakwater and Bare Mutants.

As he was at his encased meats emporium in Avondale, Sohn is the main attraction. Each session will feature a “Dog Dayz Discussions w/Doug.” Saturday’s first session will feature Sohn talking with David Manilow, the creator and executive producer of WTTW’s famed “Check, Please!” program, while the second session’s discussion will feature Chicago artist Tony Fitzpatrick.

Sunday’s first discussion session features Sohn talking with Senior Vice President of Vienna Beef Bob Schwartz, who authored the book “Never Put Ketchup on a Hot Dog.” The second session will feature Daniel Gerzina, senior editor of Eater.

Sohn closed his famous sausage superstore last October after more than a decade in business despite being as popular as ever. Lines often stretched around the block with people coming from far and wide to try his delicious creations.

Tickets for each three hour session are $75, which will get you five tickets for beer and access to unlimited amount of dogs, which will come in sample sizes. Perhaps the best part, there will be no hours-long line to wait in. Tickets will be sold up to an hour before the event starts and are will call only.

Sessions will go from noon to 3 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. June 27 and 28, with the festival taking place at the Goose Island Barrel Warehouse at 605 N. Sacramento Blvd. in Humboldt Park. While the site is nudged between Metra tracks, driving is the best mode of transportation. For more information, visit dogdayzofsummer.com.

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Explore River North at the 2015 River North Challenge

Posted on June 24th, 2015 by

EventPhotoFull_EventPhotoFull_RNC'15 Logo-SponsorsRiver North is a great area to enjoy drinks and an excellent meal, but it doesn’t offer too many places to enjoy games and challenges. The River North Business Association is helping change that with the River North Challenge.

Picture “The Amazing Race” but much more turned down and with a lot more delicious food and alcohol, and you’ve got the River North Challenge. Teams of four will run through River North completing physical and mental challenges to earn points that will be tallied up for a chance to win a grand prize from all the businesses in the area.

The grand prize isn’t the only opportunity to win something as all teams will be entered in a Door Prize Drawing where they have a chance to win gift certificates to restaurants, bars, and hotels along with spa packages. Teams are encouraged to dress up in a theme and those with the best outfits will win Best Costume. Of course, it wouldn’t be a River North Challenge with out some bites and libations, so teams will have great options to help them through their thinking process on the mental challenges at each challenge pit stop. I don’t know if it’ll help on the physical ones, but if it does then more power to you.

The event will end at Blackfinn Ameripub where winners will be announced, and all will enjoy some of their mouthwatering food.

The River North Challenge takes place June 30 starting at 5 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza, 350 W. Mart Center Dr. Teams of four can register for $160 or individuals can register for $45. For registration and more information visit rivernorthchallenge.com.

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Get on Your Feet with the Estefans in Chicago

Posted on June 23rd, 2015 by

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Any story about an outsider breaking barriers to become a resounding success is always a great one to hear no matter the gender, ethnicity, or country, but a story that includes Cuban rhythms and the style of the ’80s is one that deserves to be heard, seen, and danced to.

“On Your Feet” is a foot-stomping musical about the lives of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, the Cuban artist and producer who have won 26 Grammy awards and sold over 100 million records. The play covers the difficulty that this power couple had from being relegated to only being thought of as an act for Latin countries to becoming the Latin crossover act that has since been used as a measuring stick by other artists.

Before I continue, I must make note that I am of Cuban descent, so it’s natural that I had a different kind of connection to this play than others may have. However, I think the Estefans’ story is found across this entire country. It is a story of exile, Gloria left Cuba at a very young age fleeing Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution; a story about the struggle of fighting for your dreams while trying to cope with your responsibilities, Gloria had to balance being part of the Miami Sound Machine and taking care of her father who had multiple sclerosis; a story of living within two cultures, Cuban and American; and a story of overcoming it all.

Of course, if it wasn’t for the talents of Ana Villafañe, who plays Gloria, and Josh Segarra, who plays Emilio, the play wouldn’t spark the way it does. Villafañe not only has a striking resemblance to Estefan, but I actively challenge audiences to try and differentiate Villafañe’s and Estefan’s singing voice. Villafañe has that same power, rasp, lower register, and accent that fans love about Estefan. More importantly, Villafañe captures the hesitation, heart, and wide eyes that not only Gloria has, but that most first-generation Americans have. Segarra has the strong accent down and excellently captures the audacious vision that made Emilio go from a bandleader of a small Miami act to having a hand in almost all major Latin crossover acts since the ’80s. The one callback that gets laughs throughout is Emilio’s constant English vocabulary mistakes.

The emotions and struggles are highlighted by Estefan’s music. Party anthems like “Conga,” “On Your Feet,” and “1-2-3″  bring a lot of life and shoulder shimmies—fans of the ’80s are going to love the outfits and hair. Yet, Estefan’s ballads help highlight the difficult moments in her life like the 1990 bus crash that almost took her life. In the play, “Coming Out of the Dark” helps paint her recovery. The creators have also done a great thing with using Estefan’s Spanish songs, like “Mi Tierra,” in flashbacks to her at a young age and her parents in Cuba.

In a time where many are eager to visit Cuba to get a taste of a forbidden island, “On Your Feet” is a great reminder that exiles like Gloria and Emilio Estefan, not governments, are the real reason why people are so interested in Cuba whether they know it or not.  Exiles like the Estefans were the ones who gave people around the world a taste of the real artistry, passion, and hard work that lives inside the 13 million people on an island in the Caribbean.

“On Your Feet” will run until July 5 at the Oriental Theatre located at 24 W. Randolph St. For showtimes, tickets, and more information visit broadwayinchicago.com/show/on-your-feet-15.

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Let Your Inner Animal Out at Adults Night Out

Posted on June 23rd, 2015 by

8/8/14 7:34:25 PM  Adult Night at Lincoln Park Zoo  © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2014

Adult Night at Lincoln Park Zoo
© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2014

Come for the peace and quiet, and stay for the fun at Adults Night Out this Friday at the Lincoln Park Zoo

Ever wondered what the Lincoln Park Zoo was like after it closes down? Or even after dark perhaps? Whether you’re looking for a fun in-depth look at the wonderful zoo or wanted a perfect end to date night, Adults Night Out is an exclusive event for the 18 and up crowd to give Chicagoland’s enthusiasts an up close and personal experience with the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Leave the kids at home because this event is for adults only featuring a cash bar serving beer and wine, delicious food offerings, and a local DJ providing a musical backdrop to dance the night away to. While normally free to all visitors, tickets are required and the zoo will be closed for the event to provide a more personal experience for the attendees of Adults Night Out.

With unique animal encounters and opportunities to chat one on one with zoo experts, this will be more than just another party. Attendees will be able to view the zoo in a new light. Take a walk through the zoo’s luscious gardens and view the beautiful Chicago skyline from the nature boardwalk or observe the animals and their particular nightly routines, either way this night will surely be one you won’t soon forget.

Tickets can be bought in advance online at a discounted price, but will still be available at the event and there will be two more Adult Nights Out this summer in July and August. Proceeds of the event go to keeping the Lincoln Park Zoo free and open 365 days a year as well as maintaining state-of-the-art animal care, worldwide conservation efforts and extensive education programs.

Adults Night Out will be held Friday June 26th, from 6:30-10 p.m. at the Lincoln Park Zoo, entry is available through either the East or West gate and parking is available however public transportation is encouraged. For more information concerning Adults Night Out or the Lincoln Park Zoo go to lpzoo.org/events/calendar/adults-night-out.

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