Animals and beer mix during Lincoln Park Zoo’s ‘Craft Brews’

(Published May 30, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

Lincoln Park Zoo will host beer lovers after hours for its annual Craft Brews at the Zoo event.

The June 14-15 gathering is set to include more than 70 breweries, offering 150 different beers from across the state, amid 200 breeds of animals at the zoo. The event runs 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Tickets start at $20 and go to $79, with premium tickets allowing access 30 minutes prior to the official opening.

According to the zoo’s director of events Josh Rupp, it’s also a great opportunity to see the animals after hours.

Most buildings and grounds will be accessible to guests as they try various beers,” Rupp said. “This is a limited capacity, after-hours event at the zoo so your experience will likely be much different than that of a normal summer afternoon during the day – with the 21 and over age restriction. Plus there is a wide assortment of beer!”

For the zoo, this is more than a beer festival—it’s a fundraiser. Rupp said the zoo is free and open to the public, so this event is important to maintain that.

“When you attend events at Lincoln Park Zoo, you support state-of-the-art animal care and worldwide conservation, and help keep the zoo free and open every day of the year,” he said.

And when it comes to beer festivals around Chicago, Rupp said this one is different.

“What is most unique about this beer festival is the venue,” he said. “Lincoln Park Zoo offers an incredible space to travel through the gorgeous gardens, explore animal buildings and even get the opportunity to interact with our Learning team through several different programmed chats.”

Lincoln Park Zoo is at 2200 N. Cannon Drive. Get tickets at

The bizarre, hate-filled history of Mother’s Day

(Published April 30, 2019

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

The roots of Mother’s Day lie embedded in the blood-soaked soil of history.

Before President Woodrow Wilson recognized the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day in 1914, women had been fighting for the holiday since shortly after the Civil War.

According to National Geographic, Julia Ward Howe, author of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” suggested a Mothers’ Peace Day in 1872.

Initially, people celebrated the holiday by meeting in churches, social halls or other public places to sing, pray and read essays about peace.

Chicago was among a handful of cities to take up the tradition, and Chicagoans celebrated the holiday in June until 1913.

But that version of the holiday failed to gain much popularity outside of peace activists. By the turn of the 20th century, people suggested a more politically neutral holiday to honor mothers.

One of those early proponents was former football coach Frank Hering. In 1904 he announced at an Indianapolis gathering of The Fraternal Order of Eagles that the group needed to promote one Sunday each year as a day for mothers. The national organization picked up the challenge through its member clubs to champion a mother’s day in cities across the country.

The group still considers Hering as the father of Mother’s Day, much to the everlasting ire of Anna Jarvis.

Jarvis is generally considered the founder of Mother’s Day even though her mother, Ann Jarvis, cared for Civil War wounded on both sides of the war and tried to start a Mother’s Friendship Day for Civil War mothers, according to

The elder Jarvis died in 1905. The younger Jarvis worked furiously through letters and talks around the world to promote a day in honor of mothers. Her idea caught on among some elite supporters, including H. J. Heinz and John Wanamaker. Nearly 10 years later, in 1914, Congress passed a law recognizing the holiday and President Wilson signed it into law.

Even so, Jarvis couldn’t stand that Hering and his fraternal organization promoted Hering as the originator of Mother’s Day. In the 1920s she issued a statement claiming he “kidnapped” Mother’s Day, according to National Geographic.

Jarvis wrote that Hering was, “making a desperate effort to snatch from me the rightful title of originator and founder of Mother’s Day, established by me after decades of untold labor, time, and expense.”

For the rest of her life, she signed everything, “Anna Jarvis, founder of Mother’s Day.” By 1920 she was already souring on the holiday’s commercial aspects.

According to, white carnations were always part of Mother’s Day, but soon florists added other flower arrangements, card companies designed greeting cards and stores were promoting Mother’s Day gifts and candies.

Outraged, Jarvis wrote that these commercial industries were, “charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations.”

She tried to get Mother’s Day trademarked, but the trademark office denied the request. FTD offered to share its profits with Jarvis, but this enraged her. In 1934 the post office issued a Mother’s Day stamp and this, too, infuriated her.

By Jarvis’ way of thinking, Mother’s Day should be celebrated with a handwritten letter to mom, and nothing more. Jarvis, it should be noted, had no children.

“A maudlin, insincere printed card or ready-made telegram means nothing except that you’re too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone else in the world,” she wrote.

In later years, she had to be dragged from public Mother’s Day events and she was arrested for trying to stop the sale of carnations and finally she tried to have the holiday rescinded.

Jarvis died in a mental health institution in Pennsylvania in 1948. She had no money, though, and her bill was paid by a florists’ association.

Across The Pond offers a series of ballet pieces for Joffrey audiences

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

Published on April 25, 2019

On April 24 at the Auditorium Theater, The Joffrey Ballet premiered Across the Pond, a collection of three ballets by UK choreographers. “Yonder Blue” and “Home”were world premieres, whereas “Vespertine” was a Joffrey premiere.

The performances run through May 5 and tickets start at $35.

The performances varied from contemporary to classical, with classic orchestral arrangements to electronic scores.

“Yonder Blue,” by Andrew McNicol is a stunning and airy vision of dancers dressed in different shades of blue. The stage is a blank canvas and the set is dressed mostly on lighting. The music starts with sweeping violins as a group dances amongst smoke, as if on a cloud. Throughout the performance, different groups of dancers melt and unfold onto one another, as the lighting changes shades of blue.

Liam Scarlett’s “Vespertine” is a baroque-inspired dream. The stage solely consists of simplistic chandeliers that suggested opulence. Performers switch from classically inspired burgundy outfits, to nude leotards. “Vesperine” is not without its modern influences, as the music goes quiet with only the sound of ballet shoes on the stage. Dresses are used to highlight dance moves, with matador-like displays. A female soloist performs impressively amidst four male dancers.  

“Home” is a story about American immigrants and the struggles they face. Andrea Walker’s contemporary work features a man struggling to fit in in the place he has always called home. The costuming is simple and modern, with sweatpants and T-shirts. The man tries to fit in within the perfectly choreographed masses, but struggles. Lights flash and provoke a sense of foreboding, along with sharp, intense modern music. The man finds fleeting connections with others until he finds someone who feels familiar. They mirror each other’s movements without struggle. The performance ends as the pledge of allegiance is said.

Moby Dick opera to debut next week to celebrate Melville birth

(Published April 18, 2019)

By Elisa Shoenberger, staff writer

Next week the Chicago Opera Theater, 70 E Lake St., will perform an operatic adaptation of Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer at the Harris Theater.

The performances will be April 25 at 7:30 p.m. and April 28 at 3 p.m. The performances wrap up several months of celebrations in honor of Melville’s birth, 200 years ago.

The “Moby Dick” opera focuses on Captain Ahab’s quest for revenge,  Starbuck’s struggle against the quest, and the transformation of Greenhorn (Ishmael) from a lost soul to future storyteller.

Scheer said when he was asked to write the libretto, he found “there was a lot of operatic potential and a lot of operatic challenges. But there were these huge themes, great characters and a beautiful text that can be exploited in a libretto.”

Scheer said his job was to, “distill … it down to big broad strokes that tell the story and invite music in, so that music conveys emotional content and subtlety of the storytelling.”

Scheer said he’s happy his opera is part of the overall celebration of the author.

“It’s fantastic to celebrate a great artist who have an enduring legacy. These kinds of anniversaries remind people to pick up of the book and see what all the fuss is about,” Scheer said.

Besides the opera, the Newberry Library opened an exhibition “Melville: Finding America at Sea” that in January showcased the Newberry’s collection of Melville works and artistic responses.

The exhibition also showcased art inspired by Melville. Hansen explains that there has been a “long lineage of people reimagining or thinking about what Melville’s work looks like.” One of the centerpieces was the 1930s Rockwell Kent illustrated Moby Dick that is “typically thought of as one of the most beautiful books of the 20th century.”

With the exhibition, the Newberry had a Moby-Dick Read-a-Thon where about 150 speakers who read aloud the full text in 25.5 hours. There was a symposium “Making Melville Legible” as well as several performances.

The next exhibition is “The Legacy of Chicago Dance” that explores the history of dance in Chicago. It will open April 27 and closes July 6.

A guide to the best best brunches downtown

(Published April 1, 2019)

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

Easter Sunday is a day of church service and reflection for some. Besides church, Easter is a great day for brunch with many restaurants offering special brunch menus. Chicago has an array of brunch options, including classics, or something new never tried before, here are the top picks in Streeterville and New Eastside.



355 E Ohio St

One of many chain locations throughout the city, Yolk is located at the corner of Grand and McClurg. Open 6am-3pm on weekdays, 7am on weekends. Yolk has plenty of egg-based options, including build your own skillets, scramblers, or omelets. They also have a variety of burgers to choose from, for those who prefer lunch at brunch.

Hot Tip: They are BYOB!  Yolk offers fresh orange juice for mimosas and Bloody Mary mix.

Kanela Breakfast Club

502 E Illinois St

Kanela, open 8am to 3pm every day, is a brunch spot with Greek influences has options for every type of brunchgoer. They have vegan options, like an impossible burger, avocado toast, or chia seed pudding. Their vegetarian options include egg white omelets with spicy feta. For everyone else, they have specialty options like, a pork and jam sandwich and a crab cake benedict.

Hot Tip: Try any of the authentic Greek options, especially loukoumades, which are honey doughnuts!


671 N St Clair St

Beatrix is an all-day restaurant, which offers breakfast during the week until 11am and brunch on the weekends, 8am-3pm. They have an assortment of brunch cocktails, juices, coffees, and teas. “The New Healthy” restaurant has quinoa cakes, a poke bowl, and a chia cereal bowl.

Hot Tip: They have a bakery and coffee bar for quick fixes. The bakery includes gluten-free options.

Hampton Social

164 E. Grand Ave

Newly opened in Fall 2018, Hampton Social in Streeterville has brunch on the weekends 10am to 3pm. Their East Coast-inspired brunch includes clam chowder, yellowtail ceviche, and shrimp tacos. Their terrace is covered for colder days, but will be open once it warms up.

Hot Tip: Make a reservation on OpenTable to secure your brunch spot!

The Signature Room

875 N. Michigan Ave.

Families and friends can enjoy a gourmet brunch buffet and a visit with the Easter Bunny in the sky on the 95th floor. Easter brunch is served from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on April 21 for $80 per adult, and $35 per child aged 4-12, excluding tax and gratuity. Children under the age of three eat for free. Pricing includes one glass of Signature Room Sparkling Wine and choice of soda, juice, coffee, and tea. The restaurant opens for regular dinner service from 6-9:30 p.m. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 312-787-9596.

Hot Tip: The Easter brunch at The Signature Room features live piano music, photo opportunities with the Easter Bunny, and a spread of chilled seafood, salad, charcuterie, fresh fruit, soup, and more. Guests have access to a chef-attended carving station, made-to-order entrées, and a dessert buffet.

E.T.A Restaurant and Bar

455 N. Park Drive

E.T.A., located inside Loew’s Hotel, E.T.A. is a great spot for residents as well as visitors. E.T.A. offers diners a classic, wood-ensconced dining room meant to evoke classic Chicago’s taverns, even while the food is modern, fresh and locally sourced.

Hot Tip: While E.T.A. always offers breakfast lunch and dinner options, for Easter, E.T.A. has a special brunch menu available 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. that’s $45 per person or $17 for children 5-12 and free for kids under 4. Brunch comes with a chance for kids to decorate Easter eggs, a take away gift for the table and a free bloody mary or mimosa.

New Eastside

City that Brunches (NES)

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

Easter Sunday is a day of church service and reflection for some. Besides church, Easter is a great day for brunch with many restaurants offering special brunch menus. Chicago has an array of brunch options, including classics, or something new never tried before, here are the top picks in New Eastside and nearby.

Eggy’s Diner

333 E. Benton Place

Eggy’s is a New Eastside mainstay, with an “urban comfort food” tagline. Located in the Park at Lakeshore East, Eggy’s is open 7:30am-3pm. Eggy’s offers a variety of brunch and lunch options, both unique and classic. With a focus on eggs, patrons can order a classic benedict or combo; or enjoy novelties like chilaquiles or breakfast poutine.

Hot tip: The chicken and waffles is a signature specialty that includes a half a fried chicken!


130 E. Randolph Street

Wildberry is a popular destination for tourists and residents alike in Prudential Plaza, open every day 6:30am-2pm. There is an assortment of pancakes, crepes, waffles, and French toast to choose from. Waffles can be done gluten free and both savory and sweet crepes are available. Their signature berry bliss includes fresh berries, mascarpone, vanilla anglaise, and blackberry coulis.

Hot Tip: There is often a long wait at Wildberry during peak hours on weekends. Get in line virtually via Yelp, but make sure you arrive 10-15 minutes before your seat time. Sometimes they’re early!

About Last Knife

168 North Michigan Avenue

About Last Knife is the restaurant inside the Hotel Julian at Michigan and Randolph with brunch availabilities every day until 2pm. The steakhouse offers timeless steak and eggs, but adds twists like the beef wellington benedict that comes with béarnaise sauce.  

Hot Tip: Enjoy steakhouse classics during brunch times as well—they have beef wellington, filet, or hanger steak available.  


12 S Michigan Ave

Cindy’s, located in the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, is a rooftop brunch destination. They have an open-air terrace, with great views of Millennium Park and the lake. Brunch is available on weekends, 10am-2pm. The menu includes platters, which are shareable between 3-4 people. Platter options include pancakes, lox and bagels, and oysters on the half shell.Hot Tip: They have curated cocktails for an alcohol-infused brunch!

Shark research includes regular residents at the Shedd

(Published March 31, 2019)

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

This month, as gray skies finally give way to blue, some residents will be sailing around the Bahamas.

It may sound like an ideal vacation—but there are sharks. Lots and lots of sharks. The Shedd Aquarium is taking regular people along on a shark research expedition as part of an ongoing series of citizen scientist projects.

Dr. Steve Kessel, director of marine research at Shedd Aquarium, said the trips are valuable both for science and for the regular people who sign up.

“The participants that join these expeditions get authentic hands-on experiences conducting field research with sharks,” Kessel said. “This includes opportunities to get up close and personal with wild sharks, contributing to the ultimate and very necessary goal of improving shark conservation management.”

The groups are small, about 15 people, and of those, eight are citizen researchers. Kessel said those eight people get so excited by studying sharks that they often turn into citizen shark advocates. Plus, he said, the scientists need the help.

“The inclusion of participants alone makes this specific research expedition possible,” he said. “We get a whole other research trip to an area of the Bahamas that would otherwise go un-surveyed. This will represent a very important spatial data point that will be invaluable in the broader understanding of the shark populations that use the protected waters of The Bahamas, and how we maintain and improve shark conservation in this region moving forward.”

While the trip is fun, it is actual work and Kessel said before anyone signs up, they should be ready to work.  

“People who will get the most out of this trip are those who revel in the opportunity to get their hands dirty and want to contribute important scientific data to Shedd Aquarium’s shark and ray conservation research program,” he said.

A typical research day starts with breakfast and then teams break up for team assignments. Some researchers tag sharks while others take underwater video. Evenings are spent entering data, studding marine samples or learning about sharks and marine ecology. There is an occasional movie night and some days citizen researchers can kick back for a bit.

“This is a research trip rather than a pleasure trip and as such the activities can be quite physically demanding,” Kesssel said. “This isn’t to say that we won’t have any fun, some more relaxing activities are also built in.”

The next research trip will be an iguana study in June.

Check the Shedd’s website,, for details.

The Joffrey Ballet’s Winning Works Showcases Diversity

March 11

By Stephanie Racine

The Joffrey Ballet presented its ninth annual Winning Works showcase over weekend, March 9 and 10 at 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

A look behind the dye

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

Dyeing the Chicago River green is a downtown tradition that spans decades.

Plumbers with the Plumbers Local 130 union began using dye for spotting water leaks and river pollution in 1962, after Mayor Richard M. Daley sought attractions to draw crowds downtown and to the river—which at the time wasn’t developed.

Pat McCarthy, a recording secretary with the Plumbers Local 130 union and the boat coordinator, said volunteers still prepare the dye and sift it by hand into the water.

“We use about 50 pounds of dye,” he said. “It’s a powder and it starts off [as] an orange color. We sprinkle that into a quarter mile stretch of the river.”

The group dyes the same stretch of the river every year—the section separating Streeterville and the New Eastside starting at either Wabash or State Street and following Wacker to the lake. The exact portions of the river that will be dyed are announced closer to the day of.

The dye—whose exact formula remains a mystery—is harmless to fish and other living organisms in the river, and McCarthy said it only lasts a day or a day and a half.

It’s a messy job that leaves volunteers covered in color.

“There’s a lot of cleanup on the boats afterward,” he said.

McCarthy works to coordinate the St. Patrick’s Day parade in addition to his river duties. It’s a busy, dirty and long day for him, but he doesn’t mind.

McCarthy said he’s proud to be involved in the events because he’s a first-generation American. His parents emigrated from Ireland, so being involved with an Irish holiday in the city that adopted his family is a special experience for him.

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day like a real Dubliner

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

While St. Patrick’s Day may be confused for a day of excessive drinking, green beer and general rowdiness in America, Ireland’s national day is celebrated a bit differently in the homeland.

Justin Dolan, vice-consul at the Irish consulate in Chicago, said in Ireland, the holiday honoring the country’s patron saint is a day for family, food and, for some, a church service. While some Irish may drink on St. Patrick’s Day, green beer is only for tourists.

“There’s partly a religious sense to it and it’s our national day as well,” Dolan said. “So some people might go to church or Mass, and some people might have an Irish fry for breakfast.”

An Irish fry could include bacon, sausages and eggs; it is not a light breakfast and not the sort of thing people eat every day.

“It might be the one day they allow it,” Dolan said.

Dolan said larger Irish cities have a noontime parade, but the rivers stay free of dye—as does the beer.

“We don’t dye our river,” Dolan said. “And green beer is something I’ve never seen in Ireland. It might be some of the bars that expect a lot of American visitors offer it. But you might drink a pint of Guinness. It’s not a day for heavy drinking but it does happen.”

While the color green is part of the holiday, Dolan said it’s not ever-present on the holiday, the way it is in the United States.

“In Ireland, yes, people will wear a bit of green but the most important thing is, they wear a sprig of shamrock, a live shamrock they pick from their garden and they wear it on their lapel,” he said.

At its heart, the holiday is about celebrating everyday Irish culture, including food and family.

“It’s got a family focus for sure,” Dolan said. “People in Ireland tend to eat things like bacon and cabbage; that’s the Irish sister of corned beef and cabbage.”

Other popular Irish dishes include kale and potatoes, soda bread and a fish pie, roast beef or an Irish stew.

“There’s no one food (for St. Patrick’s Day),” Dolan said. “It’s a day for eating the best of Irish ingredients. So you might have a beef and Guinness stew with a pint of Guinness. It’s a day for good Irish food.”

Dolan said many Irish bars in Chicago will have some sort of Irish food on the menu for St. Patrick’s Day but the culinary curious can also have a look at the Irish Food Board’s website at for ideas and recipes.

Here is one recipe, courtesy Bord Bia:

Braised beef in Irish stout

Courtesy Bord Bia

To get our readers in the Irish spirit, here is an authentic St. Patrick’s Day staple. Sláinte!

Serves 4-6                   


  • 1kg shoulder beef, cut into thin slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive or rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 leeks, 2 carrots, 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 250ml well reduced beef stock
  • 125ml stout
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 50g butter
  • 75g streaky bacon, diced
  • 100g wild mushrooms, if available, sliced
  • 50g small onions, peeled
  • 25g flour                           

To Cook

Heat the oil in a large pan, brown the meat well. Remove to a pot. Next sauté half an onion, leeks, carrots and celery. Add to the meat along with the garlic. Pour in the stock and stout, season. Simmer gently for approximately 1½ hours. Remove the meat from the pot. Strain the liquid. Discard the vegetables.

Place the meat back in a clean pot, plus the liquid. Sauté the bacon, mushrooms and remaining onion in 25g of butter. Add to the pot. Reheat the lot. Blend the flour with remaining butter. Stir it into the sauce, stirring well. Taste for seasoning.

Serving Suggestions

Serve in a deep dish with buttery mash.

Recipe courtesy of Bord Bia. For more information visit

[Braised beef in Irish stout is a St. Patrick’s Day staple. Photo courtesy Bord Bia]

Holi celebration set for Navy Pier

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

Holi is coming to downtown Chicago.

Holi is a Hindu celebration that runs March 20-21. Navy Pier is hosting a free Holi festival on March 23, from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Aon Grand Ballroom.

Holi is known as the festival of colors and the festival of love.

It is a celebration of letting go of resentments, while playfully dousing others in colored powder or water. Holi begins with the lighting of a bonfire, meant to symbolize the triumph of good over bad, according to the official Holi Festival website.

A number of legends attached to the festival.

The legend that is said to have led to the celebration of colors involves the Hindi god, Krishna becoming jealous of his soulmate Radha’s light complexion, according to the Holi site. Krishna complained to his mother, who told him to color Radha’s skin any color he wished. He did so, and the mischievous act turned into a celebration, and a symbol of love between partners.

“Lovers long to apply color on their beloveds face and express their affection for each other,” the Holi site said.

Navy Pier’s celebration will feature musicians Red Baraat and Funkadesi. There will also be dance performances from groups including Peirce Elementary School and Mandala Arts. Bombay Wraps will sell food and colored powders will be available to be thrown outside in the Miller Lite Beer Garden, as supplies last, until 4 p.m. Visitors may not throw powder inside.

To learn more about the Holi celebration at Navy Pier, visit To learn more about Holi, visit

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