Magellan Rewards Festival draws crowds to Lakeshore East
By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer
October 9, 2017
Under sunny skies, Lakeshore East Park was filled with residents, families, pets and local business owners who came out to support their neighborhood on Sept 23. More than 2000 residents of Lakeshore East enjoyed an afternoon of free entertainment, food, fitness and community, celebrating the 11th annual Magellan Rewards Festival.
The rewards festival is an annual tradition that brings together neighbors from Lakeshore East buildings and representatives from businesses that are within walking distance of the community. This year, over 60 local vendors offered free samples, full meals, cocktails, workout classes, and a variety of specials and sales for their products and services.
Vanessa Casciano, Community Relations Director for Magellan Development Group, created the Magellan Rewards Program 11 years ago as a way to reward local consumers and business owners alike, by offering specials to Magellan residents and exposing nearby businesses to new clients.
Casciano said she “hosts the festival as an appreciation,” and to give business owners a platform for “showing off who they are and what they do.”
This year’s festival was one of the largest.
“We think it was a huge success,” said Casciano, “It’s always a win win for everybody involved.”
Amid crowds lined up for food, coffee and cocktails like the Island Party Hut’s summery Mai Tai’s, Casciano said physical activities at the festival were a hit for all.
While hourly fitness classes had full attendance for lessons in yoga, boxing and body matrix, Chitown trainer hosted a squatting competition by their table. Little ones even enjoyed their own area for getting out their energy. Lakeshore Sport and Fitness offered “non-stop action packed kids activities,” said Casciano, with a children’s area featuring a bounce house.
Just beside the jumping tent, free tacos drove the longest line at the festival.
Mezcalina Mexican Restaurant, located at East Benton Place, hosted a tent that offered free chicken, pork or vegetable tacos, with a variety of toppings and sauces.
“They really go the extra mile every year by serving thousands of tacos,” said Casciano, who said the restaurant is a staple “year after year as fan favorite.”
Dozens of other vendors handed out enough free food to fill up festival-goers. Subway offered trays of free cookies, Mariano’s distributed bags of popcorn, and the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park sampled new cupcake recipes.
“This is a great way to test out our new menu item and get reactions,” said Jose Perez, Director of Restaurants and Bars for the Fairmont.
The soon-to-open Drunken Bean served a homemade granola recipe, along with a steady flow of coffee and iced tea. The Lakeshore East Coffee shop turned bar is expected to open in October.
Residents had opportunities to enter dozens of raffles, for activities like free rollerblading lessons or rock climbing experiences at Maggie Daley Park, while learning about services in the neighborhood ranging from dentistry to children’s yoga.
Throughout the day the musical stylings of Lakeshore East’s Musician-In-Residence filled the festival, with Phillip-Michael Scales winning the popular vote to live rent-free for one year in The Shoreham while acting as the neighborhood’s go-to musician.
Casciano said the Magellan Rewards Program started with about 30 businesses involved, and has grown to over 250.
The program is free to all residents and vendors, and Casciano said the only requirement for the free program is that businesses offer ongoing discounts for residents.
While residents of the area get discounts, special opportunities, samples, and an opportunity to learn about what’s in their area, Casciano said she thinks the program is even more beneficial to local businesses.
“They are directly marketing to their local consumers and picking up new clients,” said Casciano.
Residents will receive ongoing specials throughout the year from businesses near their homes, and the festival will return next year with even more rewards.