Riverwalk hosts 1st annual Fall Fest

img_0661bThe Riverwalk’s first annual Fall Fest will offer special attractions and discounts to visitors of all ages on the weekend of October 7- 10. Anchored by an Autumnal village at Wheel Fun Rentals, the good times will extend to nearly a dozen participating restaurants and vendors along the bank.

“We’ve got a 14-foot inflatable slide and then, like, a bouncy house and a variety of different games,” says Dwight Brathalt, one of two partners who operate Wheel Fun Rentals.

In addition to the fleet of pedal-powered surreys offered throughout the summer, Wheel Fun Rentals has adorned its location with “1,600 pumpkins and 30 bales of hay and a bunch of cornstalks and a variety of decorations.” Winding into the shadows underneath a nearby thicket of trees, the natural bright orange and dull brown hues transform the space into an eerily beautiful harvest hamlet.

The whole scene is too good for Island Party Hut, a short walk east, to resist.

“We’re gonna be doing things in combination with the pumpkin patch,” says partner Steve Majerus. “If you have a pumpkin patch ticket, you get 15% off your total bill, including booze and food.” To make sure that kids have their share of spooky fun, the Hut will also supply markers and paint so they can decorate pumpkins while the grownups get into the spirit of things.

img_9672a2Unlike most vendors along the Riverwalk, Fall Fest marks the beginning of an extended season for Island Party Hut. The tropically-themed rumming hole plans to remain open until December 21 — the darkest day of the year marked by the Winter Solstice. It will dial up the warmth by adding walls and heaters to the party tent and celebrate the onset of winter with a big bash on December 21st.

Between Halloween and Christmas, the Hut will embrace the holidays with a Christmas tree lot — “so you can have a drink while you shop for your tree,” says Mr. Majerus — and offer boat rides on the Island Time, a 65-foot, 90-passenger Skipper Liner.

Although the plans are subject to change depending on the weather, Mr. Majerus is optimistic that the impending fall will be as comfortable as the previous one. “Last year, we closed on November 1,” he explains. “November was beautiful. We wish we could have been open the whole time.”

But until then, it’s all about fall. Additional vendors participating in the fest include Cyrano’s Café, between the Hut and Wheel Fun Rentals. On Sunday October 9th, the riverside bistro modeled after Monet’s garden will host a farmers market stocked with soups, baked items, and pies prepared under the experienced hand of Chef Didier Durand. The McCormick Bridgehouse Museum, just west of Michigan Ave., will offer discounted admission and, right next door, O’Brien’s Restaurant will “do a little cider” and offer seasonal entrees.

“We want to really showcase the vendors,” says Michelle Woods, Assistant Project Director for the city’s Department of Fleet and Faculty Management. She has been helping to develop the Riverwalk since 2002, when “Mayor Daley said we should capture more land along the river, like Daniel Burnham had said,” she remembers.

With the help of Congress, Ms. Woods and the city redefined the river’s navigational channels to make way for the destination that it is today. When Mayor Emanuel took office, the location found another champion. “Mayor Emanuel came in, he loved it, and he got construction financing,” she says. “The new portion would not have been built if it wasn’t for his leadership.”

From Lake Street to Columbus Drive, the Riverwalk is a cozy natural path nestled in an urban metropolis. The sense of community that comes to all who enter is unlike anything on earth.

“As a business owner, you’re always worried about yourself,” says Wheel Fun Rental’s Dwight Brathalt. “But down here, it seems like everyone’s in it together.”

Bridgehouse Museum hosts Asian Carp feast

Advising friends and supporters that, “If you can’t beat it, eat it,” the McCormick Bridgehouse Museum hosted an Asian Carp feast on August 24.


Terry and Dirk Fucik

Dozens of fish lovers showed up to sample the invasive species on the northern bank of the Chicago River under Michigan Ave., just outside the Museum’s lower entrance.

Dirk’s Fish & Gourmet Shop supplied, prepared, and served the Asian Carp burger-style.

“We have been promoting Asian Carp now for about ten years,” said Dirk Fucik, owner of the shop and griller for the occasion.

“It’s a good, juicy fish, just very bony,” he continued. “If I ground it and put it side by side with ground Tilapia in a blind taste test, the carp would win every time.”


Dave and Emily Schmidt

Dirk’s wife Terry handled chef responsibilities. “You can do a lot of things with it,” she said. “Meatballs, meat loaf, burgers, taco meat.”

For this occasion, she included a Cuban-style burger with a “grown-up” ketchup of tomato, jalepeno, chutne.

Several guests agreeed that the Asian Carp was good eating.

“It’s delicious,” exclaimed Chicagoan David Schmidt. “It would be great on a taco. It’s just like ground beef.”

McCormick Bridgehouse Museum — (312) 977-0227

Dirk’s Fish & Gourmet Shop — (773) 404-3475

— Daniel Patton, Staff Writer

Mid-America Club offers opportunity, networking, and friendship

A chance meeting with a neighbor and a flyer for an open house
prompted my husband and I to visit the Mid-America Club.
We quickly became proud members and
have enjoyed the benefits ever since.



Gina Apack and Melissa Czyz

Located on the 80th floor of the Aon Building, the Mid-America Club is surrounded by a breathtaking panorama that converts the city into a galaxy of twinkling stars at night. Treat your guests to this spectacle and they are unlikely to forget it, especially those visiting Chicago.

As members, we enjoy many of the social events hosted by the club, including Member Mixers, Member Wine Tasting nights, movie nights, and cooking classes by renowned chef Michael Pivoney.

img_9536bThere are also a number of occasions specifically designed with families in mind. During Christmas Brunch, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus greet and interact with children. At Eastertime, the Bunny always makes a visit. Mother’s Day brunch is incomparable.

Membership includes children at no cost, which is a boon for my family and I because our four year-old son has grown to love the place.

He is always treated as an esteemed guest and, like most kids, is fascinated by the variety of food on the Chef’s Table during breakfast and lunch.

The kids menu is a treat, but we have also successfully introduced him to a number of world delicacies.

img_9571bChef Pivoney’s daily breakfast and lunch menu also comes complimentary with membership and it is a treat for the taste buds.

Besides regular networking events and presentations by global experts, the club’s business possibilities are endless. The monthly IT MAC Connect invites IT professionals to explore a new tech topic every month and is open to members and non- members in the field.

As always, the MAC is also a social club with members meeting over drinks and food to socialize, and its Pedway connection often allows them to enjoy these times without having to go out in the cold during the winter months.

img_9487bIt also offers access to the Chicago area network of private clubs — including golf, dining and private rooms — as well as tickets to members-only events at clubs around town.

The MAC hosts an open house every month, and the next one is scheduled for September 28th. Attending one may lead to a world of opportunities, so why not give it a shot?

For more information about the Mid-America Club, call Gina Apack or Melissa Czyz at (312) 861-1100 or visit www.clubcorp.com/Clubs/Mid-America-Club.

— Reemaa Konkimalla, Community Contributor

Windy City Wine Festival’s 12th run

On September 9th and 10th, the Windy City Wine Festival is going to pair Grant Park with good times for the 12th year in a row.

“Our goal is to have sixty different tables with about six bottles of wine at each,” says Scott Janess, a Vice President at the award winning Chicago PR firm KemperLesnik and co-founder of the event. “For the food component, we try to work with the best restaurants in Chicago. Last year we had 16 different restaurants selling their best dishes from about $5 to $16.”

wcwf-more-please_aSince 2004, the Windy City Wine Festival has grown into a grape-centric metropolitan blowout with live music, guest speakers, celebrity cooking demonstrations, and, yes, beer.

“At the Best of Belgium Café, they do the nine-step pouring ritual,” he explains. “They’ll bring someone of Belgian decent who has been trained in this method and they’ll pair the beer with food. Lotta laughs during that demonstration.”

But, as the name implies, the Windy City Wine Festival is very much about the wine. The $35 advance admission price (until September 8 at windycitywinefestival.com) includes a souvenir wine glass, 12 tastings and — perhaps to ensure a proper day-drinking balance — one pint of beer.

The price also includes the opportunity to purchase wine at a discount, which can help guests enjoy some of the funnest weekend schooling around.

wcwf3_a“Everybody manning the tables is coming from the winery itself or the traditional distributor,” explains Mr. Janess. “They’re there, of course, to sell you some wine; but also to educate you. There’s nothing worse than going to the store and buying a $30 bottle of wine and not enjoying it.”

According to Peter Schwarzbach, owner of the festival’s 2016 retail partner Vin Chicago, thirsty consumers can treat their tastebuds to “a really good bottle” for much less.

“There’s no better time in history to be a wine consumer and wine drinker,” he says. “For eight, nine, ten bucks, you can get a phenominal bottle of wine.”

The trick to identifying the right bottle at the Windy City Wine Festival, he says, is to just keep trying.

“Go back and forth between red wines and white wines,” he advises. “Try different things. Try your favorites and try things from a country you’ve never tried before. If a label doesn’t look familiar, just give it a try.”

With any luck, the more you try, the easier it gets.


Chicago’s river skimming pontoons

Floating on the surface of the Chicago River, Skim Pickens and Skimmy Dipper look like a couple of slow pontoon boats gathering debris into baskets between their hulls. But underneath the pair of vessels is a century of history that extends 300 feet below the water.

“On a typical run, they pick up aluminum cans, glass bottles, Styrofoam cups, plastic bags and sometimes sporting goods like tennis balls and basketballs,” says Brian Levy, a civil engineer with the Sanitary District of Chicago and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD), the governmental agency that owns and operates the boats. “There’s an urban legend that they once found some money, but it turned out to be counterfeit.”


A skimmer cleans the River

Every weekday from April to October, the 23 foot-long catamarans leave their dock at the Chicago River Controlling Works in DuSable Harbor around 7:30 a.m. They cruise westward at roughly 5 mph through the River Walk until reaching the fork behind the Merchandise Mart. There, they separate and proceed north to Goose Island and south to Ping Tom Memorial Park. Along the way, they remove any visible waste that fits into the four- by eight-foot receptacles.

The boats reinforce a commitment to clean drinking water that began when city and state officials decided to reverse the flow of the Chicago River in 1887 and, two years later, created the Chicago Sanitary District, which is now the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

The river that they navigate is artificially elevated to 577.48 feet above sea level by a series of dams, tunnels, and drains that keep it moving southward to the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, where it joins the DesPlaines and then the Illinois Rivers before reaching the Mississippi. The process of reversing its flow was completed in 1900 and named a “Civil Engineering Monument of the Millennium” in 1999.“We established an elevation level about a hundred years ago and we kept it,”

Mr. Levy explains. “It’s about 50% of my responsibilities.”

The area’s infrastructure is designed to prevent anything that drains into the sewers from reaching the river. On normal days, the city’s sewers accept household waste and the MWRD’s sewers collect and send this waste, along with street runoff, to one of seven water treatment plants. But heavy rains occasionally back them up. When this occurs, the District’s “Deep Tunnel” becomes a last ditch effort to prevent trash from floating to the top.

Located 300 feet below the ground, measuring thirty feet in diameter, and connected to the sewer system by a series of drop shafts, the deep tunnel is the star attraction of 1972’s Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP), another grand engineering feat by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

“It’s a 109 miles of tunnels that start in Wilmette at the Bahai Temple and pretty much follow the course of the Chicago River,” says Mr. Levy.

Tunnel construction began in 1975 and the tunnel was operational by 2006. The MWRD has now moved on to the next portion of the project, which includes the Majewski, the Thornton Composite, and the McCook Reservoirs.

The Thornton Reservoir was completed in 2015. It is located near South Holland, IL, and holds a capacity of 7.9 billion gallons of water, making it the largest combined sewer reservoir in the world. The McCook Reservoir west of Midway Airport will be constructed over two phases beginning next year. When completed in 2029, it will be even larger, holding ten billion gallons. Along with the Majewski Reservoir, they should be able to handle whatever the connecting Deep Tunnel sends their way.

But if a storm drops more than TARP can take, the excess flows up into the river, where the skimmer boats will do extra weekend duty if needed.

Although Mr. Levy jokes that, “It’s not like I woke up one day and thought ‘hey I’m gonna clean garbage’” the Marquette civil engineering grad is proud to list the benefits of MWRD’s cleanup efforts.

“We are constantly measuring the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water,” he says. “We make sure that the fish have sufficient oxygen to breathe.”

Since the early 70s, the number of species identified in the Chicago River has increased from roughly ten to sixty.

Uber and Lyft parking illegally?

The July 14 Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) meeting at 400 E. Randolph St. included a lengthy discussion about the alleged dangerous driving habits and illegal parking tendencies of Uber and Lyft drivers.

“Yesterday I saw one of the worst examples ever,” said an attendee. “An Uber dropped a passenger off in the middle of the DuSable Bridge.”

“I saw one drop a handicapped person on the middle of the Michigan Avenue Bridge,” added another.

“I almost whacked a couple of those guys because they made some erratic moves,” claimed a third.

An officer at the meeting stated that he had learned of other alleged problems caused by careless drivers, including “16- or 17-year-old kids getting dropped off for concerts on Lake Shore Drive.”

The convoy of unhappy recollections was prompted by an individual who said that the area in front of her nearby condominium has become a location where Uber and Lyft vehicles frequently violate parking restrictions.

“Is there any kind of additional signage to prevent them from parking in front of my building?” She asked.

Officers encouraged residents to remain conscientious at all times when driving or walking in the neighborhood and to call 311 to report specific tow zones where cars park illegally.

“These guys are driving erratically because they’re holding these devices,” responded an attendee. “You guys gotta enforce that.”

During the month of June, according to the officer who conducted the meeting, police completed ten missions focusing on illegal vehicle operation in the area. They devoted special attention to the middle and lower streets where drag racing is often reported.

The resulting violations included two felonies and ten misdemeanors.

Additionally, an officer apprehended a person for marking the area with grafitti and issued a $1,200 ANOV (administrative notice of violation.)

Besides noticing a slight reduction in the noise eminating from alleged late night illegal drag racing activity, some attendees agreed that the revving engines and screeching tires sound as if they have moved southward, most likely to Congress Parkway.

The neighborhood’s next CAPS meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on August 11th at 130 N. Garland Ct.

— Daniel Patton

Competitive picnic at Millennium Park

At dusk on a glorious summer evening in downtown Chicago, it’s almost obligatory to throw down a blanket and enjoy your evening meal under the inviting twilight skies.

It can be as simple as picking up a sandwich at a nearby eatery and finding a spot to sit on the grass. But if you really want to amplify your picnicking skills, consider participating in this year’s Picnic Contest on the Great Lawn in Millennium Park.

The contest will be held on Saturday, August 6, before the world premiere of American composer Michael Gandolfi’s The Cosmic Garden in Bloom along with Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor. Carlos Kalmar will be conducting the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus, so your ears will enjoy the treat just as much as your stomach.

Criteria for the contest will include incorporating the themes of A Picnic in the Cosmos. Judges will consider creativity of décor, imaginative menu, presentation of food and drink, and clever team name. Get a group together and contemplate how to bring these themes to life picnic-style.

Prizes include Macy’s Gift cards, Macy’s Stonewall Kitchen gift basket, dinner for four at Columbus Tap, and a 2-gallon tin of assorted popcorn.

Picnicking doesn’t have to be complicated, though. New Eastside resident Phoung Pihlträd has been picnicking at Millennium Park every summer.

“It depends if you want to make it fancy or simple. If fancy, plan ahead. Choose three things to do (that are) easy to carry with you,” says Phoung.

Most people will agree that picnic foods should be easy to eat and not too messy. Whether you dine perched on comfortable lawn chairs or even the latest inflatable furniture, you should be able to carry your spread to the park without pulling a back muscle.

“For me, a picnic is on the lawn,” says Pihlträd. “The only thing between me and the ground is a blanket.”

Even if you don’t score a winning prize at this year’s contest, your picnicking efforts will offer a tangible consolation: the opportunity to relish your meal, however simple or fancy, in the warm summer air as the sun goes down.

Angela Gagnon | Staff Writer

Millennium Pokémon meet up

Who says that today’s young adults only communicate through their smart phones? On a recent Sunday afternoon, thousands of Millennials got to know one another in person while enjoying what may have been the country’s largest Pokémon Go Meetup in Millennium Park.

It began at 2 p.m. on July 17, when a legion of enthusiasts transformed the area near the Bean into a temporary Pokémon Go community. As a series of impromptu break dances broke out among the crowd, they held spontaneous rallies for the individual Pokémon teams — Instinct, Mystic, and Valor —while small groups pealed away to play the game.


Scott Chau

Viewing an augmented digital version of the real world through the screens of their smart phones, the individual competitors — known as “trainers” in Pokélingo — searched for the animated monsters that the application pops in their paths.

With names like Charmeleon, Squirtle, and Butterfree, the monsters are, literally, the Pokémon. Named after the words “pocket” and “monsters,” the animated insect-like creatures can be subdued and apprehended with the Poké Balls that are controlled by the players’ thumbs. Besides adding points to players’ scores, the monsters are also stored for later team competition in the Poké gyms.

Unfortunately, none of that really happened because Nintendo’s servers were down for most of the afternoon. But the glitch did not appear to diminish anyone’s enthusiasm for playing the game or enjoying the park.

“People just download it and get together and play,” said Derrick, a UIC grad student studying bio statistics. “You know, it’s free.”

Derrick got into the game as a kid with a Pokémon Red — a Game Boy cartridge released in the United States in 1998 — and has “played ever since.” He came to the meetup with his friend Scott Chau, who has achieved an impressive Pokémon level 27 by accepting and embracing his Pokémon obsession.


Derrick and Scott Chau

“Just no-life this game,” he jokes. “Pretend you don’t have any real word responsibilities and devote your life to, like, a phone app.”

In truth, Mr. Chau is an interviewer with Dev Bootcamp, a professional school that trains people in web development. He also launched and dominated the breakdancing spectacle. His introduction to Pokémon came through the trading cards that he collected in grade school. “Everyone had a holographic Charizard,” he remembers.

He caught the majority of his monsters by “sitting in a park for, like, six hours in a row,” in downtown Libertyville. “A billion Pokémon show up,” he said. He increased the effectiveness of his trainer and his Pokémon with Lucky Eggs to help make it happen.

Lucky Eggs double the amount of experience points (aka “XP”) rewarded to the trainer for a 30-minute duration. This helps the process of evolving to higher levels. They are one of the extras that can be purchased with Pokécoins, a virtual currency that trainers earn for free while playing the game or acquire with real money by buying them through the app.

A bundle of 100 Pokécoins goes for 99 cents. 14,500 cost $99.99. According to a recent Forbes article, Pokémon Go earns $1.6 million every day from the US alone.

Susan Densa, an Art Director at CareerBuilder, earns her Pokécoins exclusively by playing the game.


Tony Valdivieso and Susan Densa

She works across the street from a PokéStop, a digital location near a physical landmark where the gettin’s good. But on one day, when a menacing turtle with built-in water canons called the Blastoise 1450 was drawn to the stop by a Lure Module, which attracts Pokémon, her performance suffered from circumstances beyond her control.

“I used up like all my Poké Balls and then the game froze and I lost it,” she says.

Although a similar snafu occurred Sunday afternoon, she nevertheless enjoyed the occasion with coworker Tony Valdivieso, a Social Media Manager who suspects that the game satisfies more than an urge for recreation.

“It definitely appeals to, like, the OCD / collector kind of anal-retentive element of my personality,” he says. “I just can’t stop.”

Like Ms. Densa, he has been looking forward to the augmented reality of Pokémon Go since he began playing the traditional version in grade school.

“You always had that idea in the back of your mind of, like, what happens when you’re in the game,” he says. “What happens when you walk and a character walks, when your, like, movements control a character’s movements.”

“You are playing in real time,” Ms. Densa adds. “There are different Pokémon in different areas of the city. Like, the water type Pokémon are by the water. The technology is amazing.”


CJ “Kai” and Cahron “Cam” Cross

Millennium Park’s Pokémon population tempted half-brothers CJ “Kai” and Cahron “Cam” Cross — who were separated at the age of six and reunited more than a decade later — to journey from Chicago’s south suburbs and hunt for pocket monsters in the park.

“The city has a lot of Pokeymon and I’m able to level up pretty fast,” said CJ. “The best spot would probably be by the Bean because they put a lot of Lure Modules there.”

The brothers also enjoyed the meetup because it offered a break from their professional responsibilities as the singer / songwriter duo KaiXCam.

But for Chanel Ro, a private wealth banker, the event reminded her of downtime at the office. “The cubicle I sit in is actually right by a Pokeystop,” she says. “There’s constantly Pokémon coming up, even while I’m working.” But, she is quick to add, “I still get all my work done.”


Chanel Ro and David

She and her friend David were among the players who wore costumes to the meetup. “We literally go on night walks, sometimes for, like, four hours, catching Pokeymon,” she said.

“A lot on Michigan Avenue,” David added.

Chanel laughed. “We actually walked into the middle of traffic yesterday.”

“I wasn’t even playing,” explained David. “They were the ones playing and I was the one that was supposed to guide them and I led them into a car.”

As of press time, no injuries related to the Millennium Park Pokémon Meetup have been reported.

Better Safe Than Sorry: Urban Preparedness Tips

Today’s news headlines often make for dismal reading. Global economic challenges. Social and political unrest. New, virulent diseases show up suddenly, or the next superstorm may strike massively and without warning.

Those of us who live in the concrete jungle we know as Chicago and want to prepare for emergencies face unique considerations, including limited space to store food, water, and other supplies, and having to evacuate among large crowds. Below are some preparedness tips adapted from 72hours.org and Ready.gov.

TIPS0003-01Emergency Kits

Ready.gov advises people to consider two kits, one containing everything you will need to shelter in place and the other a lightweight, portable version for the purpose of evacuation. It is recommended to store one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, as well as a three-day supply of nonperishable foods. According to the Red Cross, a basic emergency kit could also include the following:

Family Emergency Planning

While making your plan, consider the requirements of children, seniors, non-English speakers, and pets in your household. Family members should also familiarize themselves with the emergency plans at places where they spend the most time: school and work.


If you haven’t already, start building a network of people you can rely on for help – and who you would be willing to help—in an emergency situation.  Ask if your local community center, school, or church group has a preparedness group you could join. These groups often have space and resources that individuals might not be able to access.


Familiarize yourself with your building’s evacuation plan. Identify the exits in your building and note the various stairways in case one is blocked by fire.

Dealing with huge crowds of people, many of whom might be panicking, is an issue when disaster strikes in cities. In a worst-case scenario, you may have to use some self-defense techniques to protect yourself or your family. Speak with local law enforcement officials to determine a suitable course of action for your safety and that of your family.

Locate your gas main and utilities

Make sure the entire household knows where your utility shut-off values (gas, electric, and water) are and how to operate them. Make sure your home is as safe and secure as possible.

First Aid

Get some basic first aid training and have a good stock of supplies on hand for sheltering at home. Basic items include bandages, tweezers, any prescribed medications, and over-the-counter medicines, as well as cleansing and disinfecting wipes and triple antibiotic ointment.

Especially if you live several floors up in a high-rise, have a plan for getting injured family members or neighbors out of the building.

Copies of all important documents

Keep copies off-site in a secure location and include passports, birth certificates, Social Security cards, wills, deeds, driver’s licenses, financial documents, and insurance information.

Knowing how to balance regular precautionary measures with the need to be ready for worst-case scenarios ensures that you and your family will not only survive, but also thrive, no matter what the elements throw your way.

— Shanti Nagarkatti

Summer means free music in Chicago

One of the joys of summer for the Lakeshore East neighborhood is the Grant Park Music Festival. It is completely free, conveniently located, and replete with quality performances.

Upcoming concerts include works by Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Berlioz. The Great Lawn is a five minute walk from Columbus and Randolph and it’s a great spot to picnic with friends while being serenaded under the geometric spider web of speakers.

As the sun goes down and the city lights emerge, you are immersed in an experience that you could never have in a concert hall.

If crowds aren’t your preference, you can always show up for the far less attended rehearsals, which typically occur around lunch time.

I once stood on the serpentine BP Pedestrian Bridge watching a Joffrey Ballet performance. During one of the solo dances, the music suddenly cut out, leaving the entire park in utter silence.

Unperturbed, the dancer continued his movements, leaping gracefully around the stage as thousands of onlookers held their collective breath. A few minutes later, the speakers flared back to life, revealing that the dancer hadn’t missed a beat, and as he finished his awe-inspiring number, the audience stood and cheered. They knew they had witnessed something very special.

In 2008, the Chicago Opera Theater staged a unique performance of Don Giovanni. The opera was performed in the nearby Harris Theater, and it was projected live onto a large screen at the Pritzker Pavilion.

It was a chilly evening in late April, but the production was so engrossing that we stayed until the end.

For the bows, the company saluted the Harris Theater audience, then ran thru a connecting tunnel to emerge in person on the Pritzker Pavilion stage.

They deservedly received two standing ovations. Afterward, my group went to the Gage for a drink; a few minutes later, in walked the cast of Don Giovanni. We told them that we had watched them from the Great Lawn and bought them a drink.

The events of the entire evening served to make the arts more accessible to the citizens of Chicago, a worthy legacy for the Grant Park Music Festival.

— Matthew Reiss

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