Taste of Chicago returns to Grant Park

July beckons the return of Chicago’s largest food festival to Grant Park. The Taste of Chicago is a giant, sprawling smorgasbord, featuring an eclectic cross-section of the city’s culinary offerings.

When I first moved to Chicago in 2007, I was scared away from the festival by thoughts of standing in one long line after another in the heat, lost in a chaotic maze of food tents.

However, I have attended the last two Tastes, and I can happily report that the festival is well organized. Crowded, yes, but the lines move quickly and the servers keep the food coming.

There are also musical acts. The Roots and The Decemberists lead this year’s line-up, but the sheer magnitude of participating restaurants is the real draw.

cooked-chicken-clipart-chicken-food-clipartThe best part of the festival is the odd array of mismatched menu items. Every tent includes entrees and samplers. It’s like a bizarre tapas experience.

My meal consisted of bourbon chicken sliders, pierogies, churros, ox tails, pizza, barbecue, potstickers, gelato and ginger snap s’mores. I can’t think of a single restaurant in which that would be considered dinner, but at Taste of Chicago, it worked.

After a while, the restaurants become a blur, and I happily strolled from one tent to the next, wondering what peculiar culinary pairing I could pull off next. And when I was out of tickets, I stumbled back to nearby Lakeshore East in a delicious food coma.

The Festival is July 6 – 10. And I really hope those ginger snap s’mores are back.

Matthew Reiss | Community Contributor

Chicago raises the bridges of summer

To most people, Chicago’s movable bridges represent an engineering feat that lifts a ton of steel into the air while boats pass underneath. But to the crew that operates the structures, they are a full-time job. Here’s what it takes to get it done.

IMG_9662aweb“Every day kinda speaks for itself,” says Darryl Rouse, Chicago’s Superintendent of Bridge Operations. “On a boat run, we start at south Ashland with fourteen operators and trade support, so there are like 30 people.”

Mr. Rouse has been running the operations of Chicago’s bridge system since 1994. He was promoted to the position after serving more than a decade as a bridge tender. Before that, he was a member of the International Carman’s Association for Burlington Northern Railroad, repairing freight trains and handling the duties of a traveling mechanical supervisor.

Besides managing the administrative function of his 56-person department within the Chicago Department of Transportation, he also oversees the preparation and execution of the spring and fall boat runs.

Every Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. and Saturday at 8 a.m. from mid-April to late-July, the summer boat run takes place along the Chicago River. On these days, all the movable bridges from the 2600 block of S. Ashland Ave. on the South Branch to the 400 block of N. Columbus near DuSable Harbor are lifted in fifteen-minute increments to accommodate vessels traveling to Lake Michigan. By the end of the operation, nearly two-dozen structures will have made way for floating traffic. By the end of the season, nearly 200 boats will have sailed through.

IMG_9608awebOn days before boat runs, Mr. Rouse coordinates the trade support — a team of CDOT electricians, engineers, ironworkers and machinists — and the bridge operators. During the runs, the crew of about 30 is divided into two teams that “leapfrog from site to site to make sure that the bridges open.”

“Every time we lift, we troubleshoot,” he says.

The bridges are also tested weeks before the season begins. Besides repairing or replacing unsatisfactory mechanical parts that may be up to 100 years old, the crew also rewires safety gates, safety bells and stop signals.

Of the 400 bridges that span the Chicago River, 37 are movable. “They are mostly bascule bridges,” explains the Superintendent.

Bascule bridges work by attaching the bridge leaf, which is the part that people and vehicles travel on, to a counterweight, which is usually hidden from site. When the bridge leaf is given an initial push, the counterweight uses gravity to lift it into the air like a balance scale, which is the definition for the French word “bascule,” after which the bridges are named. Because so many of the city’s bascule bridges pivot on a fixed axel or trunnion, the name “Chicago bascule” is also frequently applied to similar structures around the world.

IMG_9871aweb“It’s like a teeter totter,” says Mr. Rouse. “It doesn’t take a lot of weight to tip it.” In Chicago, one to four 125 horsepower engines provide the initial push. Counterweights weighing 400 to 500 pounds finish the job. The real trick, according to Mr. Rouse, is ensuring that the weight is evenly distributed. “Even if you paint them,” he continues, “you have to make sure that the weight remains balanced.”

During a bridge lift, the tender’s main responsibility is to ensure the safety of nearby people and boats. “You’ve got to judge just right something as simple as the stop traffic lights,” explains Mr. Rouse. “If you throw them on too suddenly, you might have a traffic accident.” They operate a console full of dials and buttons that analyze, control, and distribute everything from the warning bell on top to the motors underneath. “It takes about three years to get them really seasoned and know their craft,” he continues.

IMG_0956a-01Besides completing an in-house training program at the Calumet Bridge, new tenders are monitored closely once they are assigned to the downtown region.

“The operation can freak you out, as it did me when I was first up there,” says the Superintendent. But not enough to deter him from following a dream that he’s felt since growing up on Chicago’s near north side. “I’ve always been fascinated by bridges and railroads,” he says.

— Daniel Patton, Staff Writer

Chicago Loop Alliance works hard and plays hard

The Chicago Loop Alliance’s next ACTIVATE celebration promises to bring art, music, refreshments, and, according to its online invitation, more than 4,000 guests to the alley that intersets the State St. Target store on June 9th.

By all accounts, it will be another successful installment in a meticulously curated series that has become known for generating good times in underutilized public spaces for the past three years. But the soirees represent just a small part of the CLA’s much grander mission: to create a Renaissance in downtown Chicago.

“The ACTIVATE stuff wouldn’t work if people didn’t feel safe,” says CLA Executive Director Michael Edwards. “If a downtown is cleaner and safer, people will come back.”

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CLA Executive Director Michael Edwards. Photo courtesy of Chicago Loop Alliance.

Mr. Edwards has been in the business of improving city centers for nearly two decades. With a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh, he has helped revitalize downtowns in a lot of cities admired for their revitalized downtowns, places like Pittsburgh and Seattle. He is dedicated to improving the Loop long before and long after the parties get rocking.

“The most effective thing you can do is kinda get back to the basics,” he says. “In all the cities that I’ve worked in, the things that are most important to businesses and property owners are that the city is clean and safe. The mistake is to go for some big silver bullet project.”

The cleanliness part of the deal is fairly straightforward. “Buildings on State Street pay an additional property tax in exchange for a higher level of services,” he explains, “landscaping, cleaning, power washing the sidewalks.” The program, which generates about $2.3 million annually, was renewed in 2015 for 15 years.

The safety aspect, on the other hand, is a much more nuanced approach to a significantly greater challenge.

“We count the number of people and cars along State Street,” he says. “In a week, there were 1,938,612 who came through.” At the same time, he acknowledges that before his arrival, “we weren’t addressing any issues with civility on the street.” So the organization started from the ground up. “We put together a street team,” he says.

The Chicago Loop Alliance’s Street Team is composed of emergency workers, nurses, social services experts and the like. They walk up and down State St. from Congress Blvd. to Wacker Dr. every day from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., all the while tracking progress on iPads, communicating with one another on walkie-talkies, and assisting whoever appears to be in need, especially the homeless. They are easily identified by their bright green shirts.

“The initial year was to learn what’s going on down on State Street,” explains Mr. Edwards. “Who has homeless issues? Where do they like to stand? What impact do they have on everyone else?”

Maintaining a rapport with people who ask for money and intevening in potentially hostile situations are among the team’s highest priorities, but they take a friendly approach to individuals who cause complaints from businesses and pedestrians.

“In most cases, they’ve built up a relationship,” says Mr. Edwards. “They can say, ‘Hey, something’s going on, can you move away for an hour?’ If it’s beyond them, they retreat and call the cops.”

Before requesting police assistance, however, they will employ their de-escalation training in an attempt to calm the situation and, if appropriate, connect people with organizations that provide food, shelter and mental health counseling.

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Chicago Loop Alliance Street Team: (left to right) Joshua Feliciano, Jonathan Boyden, Terrence Shelton, Edmund Garcia, Octavian Thomas. Photo by Daniel Patton.

Edmund Garcia joined the Street Team about two years ago, advancing a career that began when he started teaching Kung Fu to children at the Waukegan YMCA in the early 2000s. He quickly learned that many of the homeless on State St. were in need of more than just basic assistance.

“The first time I dealt with someone who had mental health issues,” he recalls. “They would just reply and make no sense. For literally like twenty to thirty minutes, they would go on.”

He credits the CLA’s training and his education from Northeastern University, where he is pursuing a degree in psychology, with helping him develop the skill to handle these situations.

“We’ve learned to be patient and try to piece together the bits of valid information in the conversation,” says. “It’s in there.”

Among the organizations to which he refers special cases are St. Peters Catholic Church on Madison, where a program to obtain inexpensive photo IDs helps open doors to health care and other benefits; and Breakthrough Ministries on the near Westside, where food and shelter are available to those who can follow basic rules.

The objective of the Street Team reflects Executive Director Edwards’ feelings about people who are less fortunate. “The homeless are like you and me,” he says. “They have life stories; their situations are just different.”

Ideally, it will also help make the ACTIVATE series a safe celebration for everyone.

“It’s a free event,” he continues. “Anybody can walk in.”

— Daniel Patton

Banner photo: 
Action at a CLA ACTIVATE event
by Jennifer Catherine Photography.

Farmers harvesting for downtown markets

The Daley Plaza Farmer’s Market, the longest running farmer’s market in Chicago, will open on Thursday, May 12, from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. Offering fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables and more, it will mark a welcome and celebratory end to the long, cold winter.

The process of “Farm to Market” is not an easy one. On market days, farmers start preparing shortly after midnight, loading trucks, driving downtown, unloading and setting up so they can be open for business at 7 a.m.

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A vendor and his cheese at a downtown Chicago farmers market

River Valley Ranch, a sustainable family food business that offers a wide selection of products and specializes in mushrooms, was among the first vendors to participate at Daley Plaza when it first started. According to Eric Rose, son of founder Bill Rose and “Head Shroom” at the farm, “The process of cultivating mushrooms involves a lot of work and a lot of attention.”

RVR is certified organic, so everything is grown chemical free. “Sanitation’s a big deal at the farm for keeping problems at bay,” says Rose. He even offers tours at the farm for anyone wanting to see first hand how their mushrooms and produce are grown.

Besides offering fresh produce, RVR also serves hot food like tamales, chili, and soup. “We make 300 tamales on a typical day,” says Rose. The long lines of hungry patrons waiting for tamales during the busy lunch time rush is testament of their outstanding and delicious reputation.

Nichols Farm is another popular vendor at Daley Plaza known for their large variety of products. Todd Nichols, Farm Manager and second-generation owner, says they basically grow everything you can grow.

“We have a large variety of the earliest to the latest crops,” he explains. “Right now I’m planting sweet corn and I’ve got asparagus coming in and an apple crop that’s about to bloom.”

At the farm, they grow an impressive 250 types of apples and are able to offer between 30 and 50 types of apples at the market. In addition, they grow over 1000 types of fruits and vegetables so they have an extraordinary selection of fresh produce to offer year round. “Because of the mild winter, our perennial food crops should be ready (when the markets open),” says Nichols.

Both Rose and Nichols suggest customers shop early for best selection and develop relationships with farmers by asking thoughtful questions. Farming is hard work that requires a team to be successful, according to Nichols. The hours can be grueling, but there is clearly a dedicated passion fueling their businesses.

“We are grateful for everyone’s ongoing support,” says Rose, “and [we are] very committed to providing good food for our customers.”

For more information, visit www.cityofchicago.org.

By Angela Gagnon | Staff Writer

Frequent fireworks, wonderment fizzles

It’s painful to admit, but living in Lakeshore East for eight years has made me a bit jaded about fireworks. “Oh, are there fireworks? It must be a Wednesday.” The ubiquitous nature of the spectacle has dulled its impact. But last summer I found a way to make them fun again.

Navy Pier fireworks

I still remember my very first fireworks extravaganza: Fourth of July in Fort Benning, Georgia. I was six years-old, and I stared at the sky with my mouth open, shouting gleefully every time one of those fireworks sent its lazy tendrils look like a weeping willow tree back towards the earth. Sure, I had a sore neck and an eye full of ash, but I didn’t care. This was the greatest invention of all time. I would never get bored with fireworks; I just wished I could see them more often.

Flash forward 40 years. I am now living my childhood fantasy, and it has become part of the background. For a time, I enjoyed watching the fireworks reflected in the glass of the buildings across the river, and it meant I could watch the show without fighting the spiders on my balcony. But lately, I’ve felt like a curmudgeon, unable to take pleasure in an event whose sole purpose is to entertain.

But wait! All of that changed when I decided to partake in a firework cruise. There are probably many such cruises, but this one was part of the incredibly worthwhile “Jazzin’ at the Shedd” event. The boat took off into the dark waters of Lake Michigan and came to rest near the lighthouse by Navy Pier.

When the fireworks began exploding all around us, the boat was under a beautifully colored siege. That alone brought a few gasps of wonder, but what really sold the moment, and brought back a sense of childhood awe, was seeing the lights of mighty Chicago framing this pyrotechnic spectacular. All these years, I’ve been staring out at the lake, taking for granted what I see every day. I just needed a change of perspective.

Matthew Reiss, Community Contributor

Get your car clean and ready to be seen

Neighborhood CondoWash prepares your ride while you’re away

Everybody is enjoying the end of winter, getting outdoors and looking good, but let’s not forget one other item that also takes a beating in the winter and looks forward to getting outside in warmer temperatures: our automobiles. Our beloved cars look forward to going outside and getting all spruced up, just like we do.

And that is where New Eastside business CondoWash comes in. CondoWash is a unique car wash service that caters specifically to residents and people who work and live in the New Eastside.

Owner Mr. Barney Gray founded the company in 2011.  “One night I had to attend a special event and after coming home from work realized I needed to get my car washed.  After barely getting it done in time, I remembered my car had been sitting in its parking place all day.  So, I thought maybe there is a better way,” explains Gray. He put his idea into motion, and a year later CondoWash became a reality.

To use the service, customers schedule time on the CondoWash website.

On the day of service, customers drop their car keys at the front desk of their building (some buildings have CondoWash drop-boxes). Alternatively, keys can be placed in envelopes provided at the CondoWash drop-box in the Shoreham garage lobby, located at 400 E. South Water St.

All washes take place at the Shoreham building garage. Once the wash is complete, CondoWash returns your car to its original parking space and delivers the keys back to the corresponding front desk security person.

Gray and his staff thoroughly enjoy their job.  “I enjoy the customer service part,” Gray says.  “I like meeting people and, believe it or not, I really love cleaning and washing cars.”

So if you want to get your car looking spiffy and are a little short on time, call the crew at CondoWash. There are different service packages available, from the full-body interior/exterior wash and wax to the simple exterior clean.

And remember… your car will thank you.

CondoWash

400 E. South Water St. Chicago, IL 60601 · 312-453-7308
www.condowash.com.

Chicago’s Air & Sea Rescue team

On a recent Monday morning, the Chicago Fire Department received an emergency call about a person in Lake Michigan near 95th Street. The dispatcher immediately notified Engine Company 13, at 259 N. Columbus Dr., where the Air and Sea Rescue Team is located.

The divers began pulling on thermal protection layers, Viking dry suits, boots, fins and helmets before the truck even rolled out of the station. They secured one another’s air tanks and emergency air tanks as it sped towards the scene. Mastering this procedure is the first of many required to be a CFD Public Safety Diver.

“They do a test when they’re going through the first week of training called rapid deployment dressing,” says Ron Dorneker, Deputy Chief of Marine and Dive Operations. “They have to go from being in their uniforms to being fully suited divers in less than four minutes.”

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Charles Irey of the Air & Sea Rescue team

Every water-related emergency in Chicago — and, when requested, from the far northern suburbs to Indiana — is dispatched to Marine Headquarters at Chicago’s Engine Company 13. Besides housing a supervisor and three divers every day of the year, it also houses a vehicle loaded with two inflatable boats, four integrated scuba outfits and enough specialized equipment to complete rescues in virtually any water-related environment regardless of weather.

The entire Air and Sea Rescue Team consists of 140 to 160 divers, all of whom spent five years as sworn firefighters and demonstrated basic diving and swimming skills before applying. They respond to roughly 250 emergencies every year.

As the truck carried four of them to the incident at 95th, a Bell 412 helicopter powered up at the Chicago Fire Department’s Heliport near Calumet Park along the lakefront. Equipped with a high definition “FLIR” camera that can see over a mile in darkness, the chopper is capable of uploading footage of the situation to the Chicago 9-1-1 center, where call-takers, dispatchers and executives can review and respond accordingly.

“It’s a great helicopter that’s built for search and rescue,” says Dorneker.

It also transported two additional divers to the emergency. Like their counterparts traveling from Engine Company 13, these rescuers stuck with the Air & Sea training program even after enduring the first week, which according to Dorneker, “really weeds people out.”

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A map of the team’s rescue efforts

“It’s a little over a 40-hour week in a swimming pool and out in the lake and the river,” he explains. “From that point, it takes about three years to get to where they’re a true public safety diver trained for water rescue for the city of Chicago.” Upon achieving that honor, the fully-fledged divers can look forward to more training exercises every day.

“It never ends,” says Dorneker. “Last year we logged over three thousand hours.”

During the winter, he and the team use a special chain saw to cut holes in the Lake Michigan ice so that they can explore the waters underneath and “learn our true ability.” Besides navigating currents that Dorneker describes as “unforgiving,” the divers also perfect their means of communication, both hard-wired and wireless.

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Gratitude for the team

“The ice presents an overhead environment, which is dangerous to us,” he explains. “If something goes kaput and your breathing system fails, you need to go back to the hole that you went in to get out. We have contingency plans that we use — whether it’s the redundant air supply or the Rapid Intervention Team — to rescue the diver in distress.”

While the truck and the chopper approached the emergency at 95th over land and in the air, the department’s 92-foot fireboat, Engine 2, raced towards it from a dock near Navy Pier. Upon arriving, they joined the fire fighters from Engine Company 74, the Firehouse nearest to the incident, who also had been activated as part of the protocol for water-related emergencies.

“It’s a standardized response from the Fire Department that gets 41 fire fighters and paramedics on the scene of these incidents,” explains Dorneker. “Engines, Trucks, battalion chiefs, special operations chiefs, helicopters, boats… It’s a big group.”

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Members of the Air & Sea Rescue team

Fortunately, very few of the life-saving resources were necessary on the morning of March 18. Engine Company 74 was able to pull the victim out of the lake before anyone else arrived. Since every member of the Department is trained as a first responder to water incidents, they were equipped with floatation devices, ring buoys, throw bags, and the knowledge to use them.

“People do not join the Fire Department to go on their water rescue team,” Dorneker says. “People join the fire department to become firefighters. But if somebody’s in distress in the water, they can make a quick attempt for a surface rescue before the dive team even gets on the scene.”

Chicago firefighters can train in several categories including auto extraction, hazardous material fires, airport fires and high-rise fire fighting, which is Engine Company 13’s specialty.

Many of the men and women who join Air & Sea Rescue come from obvious places like the Navy, but Dorneker enthusiastically explains that there are also plenty “who showed the willingness to train and learn.”

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Deputy Ron Dorneker

Dorneker himself seems to have followed the path of a natural born water rescuer. His career in public safety diving began when he was a 15-year-old camp counselor at Owasippe Scout Reservation in Twin Lake, Michigan. “They used to pay extra money to bring my scuba gear to camp with me,” he remembers. He worked as a lifeguard for the Chicago Park District, the Sheriff of Galveston, Texas, and the Chicago Police Force before joining the Chicago Fire Department in 1988.

“I’m very passionate about the water,” he says. “I love the water and I like going out there, too. I’m just smart enough to know to stay far enough away so I don’t get myself caught up in the waves or out on the ice.”

— Dan Patton | Staff Writer

A Ship’s tale — Columbia Yacht Club’s “Abegweit”

The majestic Abegweit floats peacefully on Lake Michigan between DuSable and Monroe Harbors, where she has been permanently docked since 1983. The former icebreaker was named after the Mi’kmaq word for Prince Edward Island meaning “cradled on the waves.” The Abegweit originally served as a transport for trains and cars on the east coast of Canada between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick for nearly 40 years. Today, she has a new role: home of the Columbia Yacht Club.

The club’s entrance leads directly into the ship’s cargo hold, which used to store train cars until it was repurposed for the club’s sailing program. The second level was once a car deck but now accommodates outdoor dining and event space. The rest of the ship showcases pristine American chestnut walls and doors and brass fixtures, which are polished daily.

ABE00003Columbia Yacht Club General Manager Nick Philip describes the club as having a “neighborhood-joint feel near great buildings.” It’s a place to read or drink a beer, with a stunning view of the entire skyline. It’s almost as if you are on a floating island. According to Philip, the club is widely known for philanthropy. They host 56 fundraising events a year, several of which support the Leukemia Cup Regatta Series.

Besides abundant invitations to club events, member benefits also include access to the ship at all times, dining privileges, and use of the club’s meeting rooms and party facilities. And you don’t need to own a boat to join. Non-members can rent boats and stand-up paddleboards and participate in the club’s sailing school programs, most of which start in May and go through November.

“We want to make sailing accessible to the neighborhood,” Philip explains.

Kids as young as five can enroll in the “Shark Bait” summer camp program, which Philip says is the perfect way for kids to “get their toes wet” and build confidence on the water while having fun.

Older kids have the chance to learn racing techniques and can join the premiere racing team to compete at local, regional and national events.

Adults can participate in the Skipjacks Program, which Philip says is their most notable program. There are also several boating certification opportunities. More information including scheduling, pricing and registration visit www.columbiayachtclub.org.

— Angela Gagnon, Staff Writer

Chicago Cultural Mile Association already thinking Halloween

In March, the Chicago Cultural Mile Association hosted a meeting at the Studebaker Theater to discuss its annual Halloween Gathering at Millennium Park, which doesn’t happen until October.

Although it may have seemed “a little bit early to be thinking about Halloween in some peoples’ minds,” as CCMA Producer Allison Gerlach explained, the organization sets the bar pretty high and wide.

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CCMA Producer Allison Gerlach and fire-breather Bryan Small

The inaugural Gathering last year attracted roughly 200,000 people and included fire-breathing artists, humongous puppetry and a convoy of customized lowrider vehicles. Continuing that kind of success not only requires extensive preparation, but also forms a key component of the event’s mission.

“This is a curated procession of the Chicago cultural community,” explains Executive Director Sharene Shariatzadeh. “There really is nothing like it.”

Shariatzadeh and her staff are responsible for promoting the stretch of Michigan Avenue from the Chicago River to Roosevelt Road and east to Lake Michigan. She considers the area to be “the face of Chicago” with “some of the most celebrated cultural institutions in the world.”

“Our goal is that people will literally hop off a plane, get in a cab, and say, ‘take me to the Cultural Mile,’” she explains.

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CCMA Artistic Director Mark Kelly and Executive Director Sharene Shariatzadeh

By combining the city’s rich ethnic communities and a legion of local artists and performers, the Halloween Gathering is an essential way to make this happen.

It begins with a kid-friendly workshop and ends with an everyone-friendly parade. Along the way, institutions like the Field Museum and the Trinity Dancers celebrate Chicago’s creative harvest with the people who helped bring it to life.

It also requires a lot of work. The meeting provided a forum for this year’s participants to describe their projects and find partners in creativity.

Artist Heather Killian, who creates “weird puppets and animals that are giant,” said she is “planning on doing more animals, something like the beast within.”

Professional fire-breather Bryan Small, who noted that “Chicago loosened up a bit on the regulations” over the past year, said he hopes to build a float topped with go-go dancers and “some very large flame effects.”

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Lowrider jefe Jorge Ortega

Lowrider artist Jorge Ortega, who is also director of Chicago’s Columbian Festival, reported that the video of his car club’s Columbian-themed Marimonda Movil de Chicago cruising through the 2015 parade has scored nearly a quarter million online views.

It has also generated substantial buzz by showcasing the event’s commitment to children. “We should get more participation because kids were involved,” he explains.

This is one of the celebration’s running themes. According to Artistic Director Mark Kelly, who is also Columbia College’s Vice President for Student Success, the morning agenda is “a giant maker session” where children discover that “creative paths are honorable paths.” The afternoon is an all-ages celebration of Halloween as an “Artist’s Holiday.”

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George Berlin wielding his glowing moon scepter.

“It’s that moment of masks and costumes, of taking on new personas,” he explains “Much like carnival, there is not a separation of audience and the contingents that are marching.”

Then he lifted a lamp stand that had been retrofitted, customized and modified into a glowing moon scepter. “I’ve never carried a staff in my life,” he mused. “This was created by George Berlin for last year’s Gathering.”

 

— Dan Patton, Staff Writer

Dos and dont’s: using binoculars in your condominium

I have heard from many of our fellow New Eastsiders that, in fact, one of their first purchases as condo owners was a good strong pair of binoculars.

Additionally, more than a few have mentioned that the item was among the very first housewarming gifts people gave to them.

Some even have telescopes pointing out their windows.  Do you really believe them when they say it’s just for looking out at the stars?

DO

  • Get a strong pair. The higher up the stronger needed.
  • BINOC002webTake in the sights that the New Eastside has to offer, like the Chicago River
  • Use the binoculars to spot boats and other craft on our beautiful lakefront
  • Look up at the sky and catch the moon, the stars, and of course the fireworks show.
  • Use the binoculars to spot suspicious activity (be the friendly neighborhood watch person)

DON’T

  • Stare out the window with them when you have company over
  • Focus on the only lighted window across the river (you know, that guy)
  • Stare directly down on the beachfront for “interesting persons“
  • Look into nighttime windows for other kinds of fireworks
  • Stare into any of the rooftop pools (Not the kind of “friendly neighborhood watch“ we’re talking about)

— Jon Cohn, Community Contributor

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