The place to go when you want to put a lid on it

By Elizabeth Czapski | Staff Writer

Published September 4, 2018

Wherever there are sports teams, there is passion—and for the passionate, there are
hats. For New Eastside sports fans, Lids, 175 N. Michigan Ave., is the place to go.

Based in Indianapolis, Lids sells hats in more than 1,000 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The clientele at this Lids location is diverse, said assistant manager Justin Gordon. “We get a lot of international shoppers, and then we have a lot of residents from the South Side and West Side of Chicago,” Gordon said. He added it’s also a favorite of locals.

Lids, 175 N. Michigan Ave. Photo by Elizabeth Czapski

Gordon said there’s often a morning rush, with a line outside a half hour before the store opens. He said the most popular items are fitted Cubs and Sox hats. “People love those. Those always are flying off the racks, and we always have to replenish them,” he said. With fall just around the corner, Gordon said customers have been looking for bucket hats and beanies.

When the Cubs won the World Series in 2016, demand for Cubs gear soared sky-high.

“This store got really good numbers off the Cubs,” Gordon said. “Any place that was selling Cubs anything was packed. It was crazy.”

Lids also offers custom embroidery with anything from Chicago stars to a favorite player’s name and number, Gordon said.

Lids can also add kingpins to the hats, with numerous design options available.

A White Sox and Bears fan himself, Gordon said he has about 300 hats from Lids. Ryan Kaul, from Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, was visiting Chicago with his family and bought a Durham Bulls hat to add to his collection. His younger brother J.T. bought a Brewers hat.

“I collect hats, and it’s an easy, good way to bring something back to Wisconsin from Chicago not Cubs-related,” Kaul said.

Yvonne Fernandes, who is from Australia and lives in the U.K., was in Chicago because her husband was attending a conference.

“I was sent by my children to go look for hats, for Cubs hats, apparently,” she said as she searched through the Lids displays for the perfect hat to take home.

When asked if the Cubs are popular in the U.K., Fernandes said, “I have no idea. I just do as I’m told.”

Anyone can stargaze at the Adler

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Published September 5, 2018

Stargazers take note: If the night sky is unavailable, try the Adler. 

Guests get a campfire lesson on star gazing at Camp Adler. Photo by Taylor Hartz

Through the Adler’s Adler after Dark events, adults—the shows are 21 and over—have an opportunity to see something they would otherwise miss: The sky.

In August, the dome theater was set up to show the sky above in an experience called Look Up, with guests laying around a cozy mock campfire on fleece blankets strewn about the room. Host Maggie O’Brien, a facilitator at Adler playing the role of a fellow hiker, led this session where she was on a mission to spot some stars and catch a glimpse of a meteor shower.

Using a sky map on the dome screen, O’Brien pointed out stars and constellations that Chicagoans can see without trekking out into the country.

The best spot to make right now, said O’Brien, is a glimpse of Mars. O’Brien explained that thanks to a process called “opposition,” Earth and Mars are currently traveling in orbit close together, making the distinctly red planet visible from downtown. The best place to see it, said  O’Brien, is near the lakefront, or anywhere with a limited number of street lights.

In September, the Adler is asking its patrons to get decked out in their favorite ‘90s fashion and sing along to some throwback hits while learning about the rise of the internet. The night of nostalgia, themed around the decade, will take place on Sept. 20.

In October, Adler will get in the halloween spirit with a spooky look at “the deep.” This Adler After Dark event will explore the deep ocean and deep space.

All After Dark events feature specialty cocktails that fit the theme, along with other bar offerings.

“Moon juice” cocktail at Camp Adler. Photo by Taylor Hartz

“It’s not the Adler you remember as a kid, this is a unique way to experience the museum,” said Sater.

Tickets for each monthly event, held on the third Thursday of each month, go on sale the third Friday of the previous month and each month features a different theme.

In August, attendees were invited to learn about space travel. The team at Adler brought NASA astronaut Brian Duffy and the current NASA team behind the Space Launch System to talk about “extreme camping” – or, living in space.

“I’m not sure there could be any more extreme camping than going to the moon and Mars,” said Marcia Lindstrom, Strategic Communications Manager at NASA Space Launch System.For more information visit https://www.adlerplanetarium.org/adler-after-dark.

Meet the new head of GEMS school

By Tom Conroy | Staff Writer

Tom Cangiano began in July as the newest head of school for GEMS World Academy Chicago.

Cangiano is the fourth head since the school opened in September 2014, but said he will stay a while. “I don’t take a job if I’m not completely committed to it,” said Cangiano, who has over 25 years of combined experience as an educator and leader.

“It is crucial to have leadership stability at a newer school and the only way to get things done is to stay long-term.”

Prior to arriving at GEMS, Cangiano led the Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh for eight years. That experience will serve him well as GEMS prepares to add more high school classes and new facilities in its Upper School building by the 2019–2020 academic year.

Cangiano said he and his wife were happy to move to Chicago. Cangiano, a native of Massachusetts, said he enjoys living in the city and the school’s proximity to everything in New Eastside. He has two children in high school and a third in college.

Cangiano has lived overseas, teaching in Budapest and serving as the president of the American College of Sofia in Bulgaria. He said his international experience fits with GEMS and its global network of schools as well as its International Baccalaureate curriculum.

“The school is both inward and outward looking, as we encourage students to understand what is going on not just around the world, but also here in Chicago.”
– Tom Cangiano

“GEMS’ genuine commitment to global citizenship attracted me,” he explained. “The school is both inward and outward looking, as we encourage students to un- derstand what is going on not just around the world, but also here in Chicago.” He added that the school teaches students to explore and research Chicago.”

“The history person in me comes out when I encourage the kids to be part of the community so they can understand the context of what they are learning,” said Cangiano, who has a background in the humanities. Cangiano added that he hopes to strengthen the school’s global network.

He recently attended strategic planning meetings in Dubai and hopes to increase the number of joint service programs and exchanges, allowing students to collaborate with their peers at other GEMS schools.

Domestically, he will work toward growing enrollment to 100 students per grade level for a total enrolment of 1,500 students.

GEMS World Academy Chicago
350 E. South Water St.
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 809-8900
gemsworldacademy-chicago.com

Published August 1, 2018

Visitors have a hoot with Wings and Talons

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Published July 31, 2018

For the most part, unless you go out at night,  you’ll miss the raptors on patrol downtown, swooping down to catch prey right in Chicago’s front yard.

But, a few times each summer, the team at Wings and Talons brings a few rehabilitated birds to Lurie Garden for free daytime shows they call Raptors! wherein garden visitors can learn about the habits of these birds.

Wings and Talons is a non-profit based in the northwest suburbs that provides care and shelter for raptors that can’t survive on their own. The group also supports education, wildlife stewardship and conservation. The organization, which calls these birds “nature’s fighter jets,” was founded in 2016 by a group of volunteers who share a passion for educating the public about birds of prey.

Currently in their care are a male and female red-tailed hawk, an eastern screech owl, a great horned owl, a barred owl, an American kestrel, a broad-winged hawk and a turkey vulture. 

This barred owl was on hand to wow crowds at the July Raptors! event in Lurie Garden. The group Wings and Talons will return Aug. 14. Photo by Taylor Hartz.

On July 10, Wings and Talons brought the male red-tailed hawk, the eastern screech owl, the barred owl, and the broad-winged hawk to Lurie Garden and set up shop.

With the skyline towering above, volunteers stood in a grassy area with the birds perched on their hands, ready to educate folks who wandered through the garden and those who came specifically to check out the birds.

For these events, there is no sign-up, no ticketing and no formal talk. Rather, visitors simply walk up to the volunteers and ask whatever questions they like.

“We like educating people because the more they know about these birds the more they know about what’s living right around their neighborhoods,” said volunteer Larry Devera, with a red-tailed hawk perched on his arm. “These could be living right in your backyard.”

Red-tailed hawks live in our area, but others, like the broad winged hawk, made quite the journey to end up in Illinois.

This bird migrates in flocks known as kettles all the way to South America each year, preying on frogs, toads and small rodents, or even other birds, invertebrates and bigger reptiles.

The female hawk at Lurie Garden came to Wings and Talons from the Carolina Raptor Center due to a wing injury.

Coming up on her second birthday, the red-tailed hawk came to Wings and Talons after suffering head trauma from hitting a window in 2016. She injured her eye and can no longer hunt but if she could, Illinois would provide the perfect environment.

“In the Midwest it’s very common for them to swell in forests or by the water,” said volunteer Christine Richtor-Duff,  “We just don’t see them much because they come out at night.”

But even though these birds are adapted to live in the urban environment, they did not start off that way.

“There are a lot of theories about what they evolved from,” said Richtor-Duff. The most common theory is they evolved from dinosaurs.

“There are so many similarities in talons and bone structure to dinosaurs like velociraptors,” said Richtor Duff.

Other birds, like owls and vultures, have been in their present form for quite some time, without adapting or changing much over the course of human history.

Guests were able to get a close-up look at a black-eyed barred owl. The 11-year-old bird was not injured, but imprinted on humans at a young age, and was therefore unable to return to the wild.

Also on hand was a small eastern screech owl on a perch near the group’s information table. This little bird, standing about five inches high, isn’t native to the area, but is nearly identical to the western screech owl, which can be found throughout Illinois.

Lakeshore East Regatta resident Bill Evans came to check out the birds with his 9-year-old daughter, Brielle Evans.

Brielle, a fourth-grader at Ogden International School, is a huge fan of owls. She was even carrying a colorful owl shaped purse as she checked out the birds.

Her love of the birds is in part due to her school — the mascot at Ogden is the owl. The Evans family are also members of the nearby University Club, which also uses the owl as its mascot.

Bill thought the display from Wings and Talons was a great way to bring nature and wildlife into the heart of the city.

“I think it’s wonderful to have such an educational thing here in the city,” said Evans, “Especially for kids who don’t have access to the wild; it creates an awareness for them.”

Wings and Talons will return to the Lurie Garden for another session of Raptors! On Aug. 14 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

 

Annual funny fest features female talent

By Matthew Reiss | Staff Writer

August marks the return of the Chicago Women’s Funny Festival and Chicago comedian Amy  Leuenberger is a name to watch this year.

Leuenberger, who also works in New Eastside as both a paralegal and yoga instructor,  jokingly notes that her comedy career has been born out of out of rejection — and she’s okay with that. For years, Leuenberger performed as part of a popular sketch comedy group. Over time, cast members left the group for other pursuits and Leuenberger continued with a solo career. 

Amy Leuenberger. Photo courtesy of Chicago Women’s Funny Festival

After training at Second City, Leuenberger immersed herself in performance, making appearances at several clubs throughout Chicago. Her comedy is based on life experience, with an absurd twist that comes from her sketch writing days.

Over the past six years, the CWFF has become a venue catering to all genders and all types of comedy, including stand-up, improv, sketch, musical comedy, burlesque and forms yet to be categorized.

In addition, Leuenberger said she estimates only about 10 percent of Chicago stand-up comedians are women, meaning that CWFF is a rare opportunity for women to perform new material, network with other performers and appreciate each other’s work in a positive, accepting environment.

This year, 400 performers will perform 70 shows beginning Aug. 23 and running through Aug. 26. Leuenberger will perform a stand-up set at 10 p.m., Aug. 25, and then emcee for the rest of the hour.

Here are four other acts audiences shouldn’t miss at the CWFF:

  • Off Off Broadzway — A Chicago-based burlesque parody act that has been getting rave reviews for a decade.
  • Harpreet Sehmbi — a Toronto based stand-up comedian and improviser, graduate of Second City’s Conservatory, host of the Darjeelings of Comedy.
  • Anarchy: An Improvised Rock Opera – Exactly what the name suggests, a Chicago group of comedians who are also supremely talented musicians.
  • Salma Hindy — Received a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering, then hit the road from Toronto, touring North America as a stand-up comedian.

Published July 31, 2018

Updated August 3, 2018

Best places to view fireworks in Chicago

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Published July 4, 2018

The Fourth of July is upon us and Chicago is about to light up the sky for a grand celebration of America’s birthday. Here are the best spots to catch the shows.

Navy Pier

The fireworks display at Navy Pier is a must-see. Head to the Pier and visit Chicago classics like Harry Carry’s Tavern, or fun-themed places like Bubba Gump Shrimp Company or Margaritaville. Nearby beaches are also great places to take in the view. The free show starts at 9:30 p.m.

Rooftops

For a more adult scene, check out the J. Parker on the rooftop of the Hotel Lincoln at 1816 N. Clark St. The rooftop has views of North Avenue Beach, Lincoln Park and the fireworks show.

On the water

For an active experience, head over to Urban Kayaks on the Riverwalk. They offer a Fourth of July Fireworks Show with a 90-minute tour of the river while a guide gives a history lesson. For more water options, check out one of the cruises.

Odyssey Cruises offers three to four cruises throughout the holiday weekend
with brunch, lunch and dinner options from $56.90. On July 4, take in the fire- works on a two-hour dinner cruise with an on-board DJ and dance floor for $189. This 21+ event offers an open bar and din- ner. Boarding begins at 6:30 p.m. and the cruise goes from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. For more information, visit the website odysseycruises.com

Shoreline Sightseeing offers two-and-a-half hour Red White and Brew Cruise. The cruise features craft beer from Revolution Brewing. This 21+ birthday celebration will also feature food, a live DJ and a view of the fireworks for $119. Cruises will depart from the northeast corner of the Michigan Avenue Bridge alongside Pioneer Court at 401 N. Michigan Ave. at
8 p.m. and will return at 10:30 p.m. For more information, go to shorelinesightseeing.com

Spirit of Chicago, which also launches from Navy Pier, has a dinner cruise on July 4 with an open bar, music and dancing for $149.90. This three-hour cruise which takes off at 7:30 p.m. For more information, go to spiritcruises.com

To keep the celebration alive, check out fireworks at Navy Pier all summer. Through Labor Day, the Pier has shows Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 10:15 p.m.

Reaching new heights—adaptive rock climbing comes to Maggie Daley Park

By Angela Gagnon | Staff Writer

Published July 4, 2018

At first glance, the Maggie Daley Climbing Wall might seem daunting.

The mere thought of ascending 40 feet by gripping tiny rocks would give anyone pause, let alone someone in a wheelchair.

But, through a partnership between Adaptive Adventures and the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, anyone who wants to climb can.

Al Schiewe, one of the adaptive climbing lead volunteers, secures climber Suzen Riley in the ARC (adaptive ropes course) harness in preparation for her ascent. Photo by Angela Gagnon

For the third year, the Maggie Daley’s Climbing Wall hosts climbing opportunities every second and fourth Monday of the month for people with physical disabilities. Instruction, adaptive gear, support and encouragement are all provided.

Chris Werhane, the adaptive sports lead
in Chicago, says the Intro to Climbing
program welcomes about 40 climbers and
volunteers.

“We focus on what’s most comfortable
for the person climbing, what’s needed for
them to be successful,” Werhane said.
The adaptive equipment options can be
customized to fit the climber’s needs.

Oak Park resident and climber Suzen Riley uses an adaptive ropes course (ARC) harness along with the pulley system and handle-bar style “ascender” to experience the thrill of the climb. When she climbs, volunteer belays assist with the pulley system, and Riley grips the ascender to ratchet herself up.

“When you get up there, it’s so beautiful,” Riley said. “It’s good exercise and you feel this exhilaration that you’ve actually done it.”

The trained volunteers who assist with the climbs are just as vital to the process as the equipment.

Some climbers use side support wherein a volunteer climbs next to them as they ascend the wall. The side climber might help place a weaker limb on the rock or provide verbal assistance for visually impaired climbers. There is no limit to the styles and customized assistance climbers can use.

Adaptive Adventures was founded in 1999 by two individuals with physical disabilities who saw a need for sporting opportunities. Adaptive Adventures provides programs, camps and clinics for cycling, climbing, kayaking, skiing, sailing, scuba and more.

Greg Zbrezezny, the Chicago Program Director of Adaptive Adventures, added that they provide scholarships, too.

“The goal is to make it accessible to everyone,” said Chicago volunteer and belayer Megan Snowder.

The outdoor program will run through October, weather permitting. To learn more or to register, visit www.adaptiveadventures.org

Lakeshore East’s Vista Tower continues to rise, reaches midway-milestone

By Julie Whitehair | Community Contributor

Published July 4, 2018

Development of Chicago’s burgeoning Vista Tower is speeding along—the sky-scraper reached its halfway mark in June with the construction of its 50th floor.

The jewel in Magellan Development Group’s portfolio, is set to stand nearly 1,200 feet tall with 101 levels on East Wacker Dr. in Lakeshore East. This height would push it past New Eastside’s Aon Center as Chicago’s third-tallest skyscraper, behind the Willis Tower, 233 S. Wacker Dr., and Trump International Hotel and Tower, 401 N. Wabash Ave.

Chicago architect Jeanne Gang envisioned a unique, geometric shape for Vista Tower involving three separate towers or “tubes” of stacked frustums set side-by-side in varying heights. Curbed Chicago reported the first of the three tubes has been topped off already, and that a blue-green glass exterior will be added to the project ahead of its opening in 2020.

As construction continues on the building, its developers have set up webcams for architecture enthusiasts and anyone curious to watch the latest construction of the Vista Tower. The webcam can be found on the Vista website, vistatowerchicago.com/webcam.

Construction on the reported $1 billion building began in September 2016. Once opened, Vista will be a mixed-use tower featuring a hotel and high-rise residences. About 44 percent of the 396 Vista condos—a lower figure than originally announced because some buyers combined multiple units—have already been sold, the Chicago Tribune reported.

To combat swaying from winds, the Chicago Tribune reported the tower will have water-filled tanks atop the structure to slosh and counterbalance the winds as well as an empty “blow through floor” for the wind near the top.

Meet Maximo, the Field’s newest—and biggest—beast

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Published July 5, 2018

After a 100 million year absence, the titanosaur is back. The dinosaur made his debut at the Field Museum in June and he is quite the sight.

The skeletal cast of the titanosaur has replaced Sue as the main attraction in the museum’s entrance hall. The change is big—more like colossal—as Maximo is the largest dinosaur ever discovered.

Maximo reaches 122 feet across Stanley Field Hall on the museum’s main floor and stands 28-feet-tall at his head, which pokes over a second floor balcony. His friendly face can be seen from below and by guests upstairs, who can pose for a selfie with the
photobombing dino.

Maximo peaks over the second floor balcony | Photo by Taylor Hartz

Downstairs, guests are welcome to walk underneath Maximo and gaze up at his massive ribs and long neck. For an up-close-and-personal experience, guests are welcome to touch his red-tinted cast.

Also on the main floor is a collection of real titanosaur fossils, including bones that are bigger than most of the humans
looking at them.

Sues new habitat is still under construction | Photo by Taylor Hartz

Compared to Sue’s 40-foot frame, Maximo’s 122 feet reach across the hall is expansive at just under twice the size of the bean, or “Cloud Gate,” in Millennium Park, and some 75 feet longer than a CTA bus.

Sue, a favorite of museum visitors and a major tourist attraction since 2000, has been moved to the second floor. Fans can spot her through the window in her new home, which is currently under construction.

Her permanent display will re-create what scientists think a T. rex habitat would have looked like.

Rules of the River: What you need to know to safely navigate the Chicago River

By Brian Zarley | Staff Writer

Patience, planning and keeping your head on a swivel—according to Chief Warrant Officer Matthew James, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor, that’s what boaters need to remember to safely navigate the Chicago River.

That, and their life jackets. While the constant stream of boats can seem chaotic and intimidating, there is a method to the madness.

“If you basically picture it like a big highway, that’s generally what the river breaks down to,” said Captain Gabe Argumedo, who has been piloting Chicago’s First Lady on the river for 10 years, and working on it for 14. “The most important thing on the river is to keep that traffic flowing.”

Whether going up or down the river, boaters should keep to the right—or starboard—side. Slower traffic and smaller vessels should stay further right allowing the larger, faster commercial vessels to safely pass them. This also frees up the slightly deeper middle of the river for larger vessels. Unless in an emergency, boaters should not drop anchor. Keeping the boats moving helps ensure a safe and efficient flow for everyone on the river.

While traveling, boaters need to maintain a safe speed—the river is a no-wake zone—and pay attention to the flow of traffic around them. “You shouldn’t be going so fast that you can’t stop your vessel and avoid a collision if one became imminent,” James said.

The locks have an order for loading, Argumedo said. Commercials vessels are first priority, followed by government, recreational, and then cargo and fishing boats.

Boaters should wait to the north side of the turning basin for the lock chambers to clear. A system of signal lights—red means no traffic; yellow means commercial vessels may enter; green means recreational vessels can enter—tells boaters when to steam into the basin. Recreational boaters should be aware that the current is particularly strong this year, especially going from the river to the lake, due to the difference in water level, Argumedo said.

Life jackets are required once a boat enters the locks. The Coast Guard strongly recommends their use at all times, especially with the cold waters of the river and Lake Michigan. “We try to draw the equivalent between a life jacket and a seatbelt,” James said.

Navigation lights are crucial for safely traveling on the river, even with the bright lights of downtown. In fact, the glare and abundance of light sources can make spotting a boat—or a boat’s lights—even more difficult.

“They’re extremely important,” Argumedo said. “That is going to tell us exactly what kind of a boat, or what direction they are going, versus not having lights at all.”

With common sense, traffic awareness and vessel vigilance, boaters can make the most of their time on the water.

Published June 5, 2018

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