Summer fun for all: Parents have plenty to choose from in local summer camps

(Published April 30, 2019

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

With summer around the corner, schools, museums and even watersport companies are offering summer camps for kids.

At Camp GEMS, kids can explore the city through a six-week program that mimics the school’s curriculum, although the program is open to all kids, even non-students. Through the camp, kids explore the whole city and the build and design the city features. Each week is $475 or $2,700 for six weeks. Camp Gems is open to kids 3-12.

Taneal Sanders, a GEMS teacher, said Camp GEMS aims to benefit the entire student.

“We focus on keeping the kids’ minds and bodies active,” she said.

Each week has a different theme, and students learn lessons based on each theme. The first week is “who we are,” the second weeks is “where are we in place and time,” the third week is “how we organize ourselves, the fourth week is, “how the world works,” the fifth week is “sharing the planet” and the final week is “how we express ourselves.”

Throughout the camp, kids explore the city, design model cities, visit a theater and visit various markets and festivals in the city.

“On Fridays, we do a share-out where all age groups come together and we kind of have a little assembly where we share what we learned during the week,” Sanders said.  

Last year, kids took a water taxi to Chinatown and on another day they visited the Field Museum.

“We don’t just stay right in the neighborhood,” Sanders said. “With the younger campers, we stay close to school, but for the older kids, we venture out on public transportation.”

In addition to the cultural diversity, Sanders said Camp GEMS is staffed by GEMS teachers and the ratio is five students to one teacher, ensuring the kids are learning as well as enjoying the city.

“It’s not just for GEMS students,” Sanders said. “We love that it brings in different people and different perspectives.”

A variety of other day and week camps are available for kids.

Sailing and STEM camp

The Chicago Park District is hosting its annual sailing and STEM camp in May, June and July.

Kids can learn to sail at Monroe Harbor, with no experience necessary. The camp is for 5th-8th grade students in Chicago and it requires a $250 donation, though low-income applicants can get in free. To apply for a spot, visit endeavourchicago.org.

The four day-sessions (Monday-Thursday) go beyond  sailing. Students will learn science, technology, engineering and math curriculum. The course opens May 4 and meets every Saturday at 9 a.m. A June camp runs from June 24 to Aug. 1.

Visit EndeavourChicago.org for more details and to apply online. Scholarships are available.

Urban Kayaks paddle and kayak camp

Urban Kayaks summer paddle and kayak camp kicks off July 29. The camp runs weekly from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and is aimed at kids ages 10 to 16. The course, at $550 per week with a 25 percent discount for siblings, is located at Monroe Harbor. For more information, visit urbankayaks.com or call 312-965-0035

Navy Pier’s Wiggleworms music program

While not a camp, Navy Pier is again hosting Wiggleworms, a free music program for children every Friday beginning June 21.

Wiggleworms, Old Town School of Folk Music’s early childhood music program, introduces young children and their families to a musical world. The program is at the Polk Brothers Park stage and it runs Fridays from 10 to 11:45 a.m.

Camp GEMS gets campers out and into the city for lessons. Photo courtesy GEMS

A look at the numbers behind the Navy Pier fireworks

(Published April 30, 2019)

By Elisa Shoenberger, Staff Writer

With the warmer weather comes Navy Pier fireworks.

May 25 is the start of the annual Navy Pier fireworks and Melrose Pyrotechnics will again produce the weekly displays, just as they have for the past 15 years.

For the audience, it’s 10 minutes of fun filled with fire, smoke and dazzling colors all set to music. But the behind the scenes is real work and somebody has to do it. One of those somebodies is Jonathan Gesse, a soundtrack producer with Melrose Pyrotechnics.

Gesse said “a minimum of 30-hours preparation goes into each Navy Pier display, which includes everything from soundtrack design, choreography, labeling, packaging, setup, product testing and transportation.”

The day of the show, five technicians set up about 10 hours beforehand, including monitoring the equipment in advance of the show.

Each show is a “unique pyromusical experience,” Gesse said. “Our team of choreographers uses industry software to ‘script’ each display according to the musical soundtrack by listening to the music and building scenes of light and color.” Once the show is ready to start, Melrose sends a “coded radio signal from Navy Pier to the fireworks crew, which the firing computer receives and synchronizes itself to the music that plays through the speakers at Navy Pier.”

Melrose gets fireworks from all over the world including China, Italy and Spain. They use 500 new products each year and more than 1,400 feet of XLR cable for the shows.

Gesse said the heights achieved by fireworks depends on the diameter of the shell. Three- and four-inch shells will generally explode from about 300 to 400 feet in the sky, and 10 inch shells will rise to well over 10,000 feet in the air before they break.

“At Navy Pier, we use aerial shells ranging from two-and-a-half inches up to 10 inches in diameter,” Gesse said.

This year, there will be 31 firework performances, each Wednesday and Saturday from May 25 to Aug. 31 with additional shows July 4 and New Year’s Eve. Wednesday fireworks are at 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays are at 10:15 p.m., weather dependent.

The displays last 10 minutes while the July 4 and New Year’s Eve displays last 15 minutes. Last year, CBS reported that nearly 100,000 people attended the July 4 celebration and that the fireworks performance had 2,000 firework shells go off with “300 different effects.”

Unique spring runs in Chicago include bubbles, colors and love

(Published April 30, 2019

Abhinanda Datta, Staff Writer

Although April did bring snow, it is safe to say spring has finally sprung on Chicago. Just in time for spring are healthy, fun activities to get the body in shape before beach season. If ordinary 5k races are boring, here are some weirdly fun runs:

Superhero Run 2019

Where: Diversey Event Harbor

When: 9 a.m., May 4

Wear a cape and run for a good cause. The Superhero Run, the biggest fundraising event of the year for DePaul University’s Cities Project, provides Chicago Public School students with critical mentoring and after-school support. All proceeds go toward maintenance and expansion of the program. Tickets: $35-$40.

Night Nation Run

Where: Soldier Field

When: Gates open at 5:30 p.m., May 18

The Night Nation Run is a running music festival. More than one million people have participated over the years. The run begins and ends at the Soldier Field and the course includes studded bubble zones, live DJs, light shows and black and white neon lights. As participants enjoy this unique, musical running course, the major attraction awaits near the finish line—an epic main stage after party with top headliner DJs. Tickets: $30-$60.

Bubble Run Chicago

Where: Bridgeview

When: May 25

Participants wear white t-shirts, and run, walk, dance and play across three miles, with groups starting every three to five minutes. At each kilometer, participants run through Foam Bogs where they get doused in colored foam from head to toe. Each of the four Foam Bogs along the course will be represented by different colored foam. Tickets: $40.

The Color Run Chicago

Where: Soldier Field

When: June 15

A race that celebrates love, The Color Run requires participants to wear white and bring nothing but good vibes. As participants run through the course, they are plastered with colors and once they cross the finish line, there is a party with music, dancing and even more colors. Tickets: $25-$50.

Stay inside and get outside through the MCA’s ‘The Great Outdoors’ performance piece this weekend

For the New Eastside News

(Published March 20, 2019)

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago will present “The Great Outdoors,” a performance by writer-director Annie Dorsen that takes place within an inflatable dome on the theater stage where the public can stretch out on mats for a journey through ‘inner space.’

A lone performer, Kaija Matiss, reads aloud comments culled from internet discussion boards 4chan and Reddit in the past 24 hours, giving voice to the thoughts of countless individuals tapping away at their keyboards in isolation. With a unique stellar star show designed by Dorsen in collaboration with Ryan Holsopples, “The Great Outdoors” connects ideas of infinity and the unknown to today’s networked, hyper-connected technologies, and reflects on the cosmic nature of the internet. The Great Outdoors takes place at the MCA from Thursday to Saturday, March 21-23, at 7:30 p.m., with an additional 2 pm show on Sunday, March 24.

“The Great Outdoors” is a performance that changes each time it takes place, using a stream of that day’s internet comments that are fed through an algorithm produced by Dorsen herself. The algorithm sorts messages by their density, and operates independently of human intervention, delivering a flood of personal and collective thoughts that the artist calls the ‘internet’s id’ – a projection of ourselves unrestrained by ego, and protected by anonymity.

The Great Outdoors” invites audiences to consider the internet as both ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ space, at once a digital reflection of personal life and a connection to the world beyond the body and its physical location. Dorsen describes the internet as “a new Romantic landscape where we can go exploring, as explorers did in the nineteenth century.” As audiences imagine the internet’s infinite possibilities, musician Sébastien Roux mixes a live score on stage, experimenting with electronic and ambient sounds inspired by the theory that the universe is always expanding.

“The Great Outdoors”takes place in the Edlis Neeson Theater at the MCA and seating is limited. Tickets are $30 and can be reserved at www.mcachicago.org or by calling the box office at 312-397-4010.


A gem on Jeweler’s Row: Hamilton Jewelry makes it special by hand

By Angela Gagnon | Staff Writer

Along Wabash Avenue, between East Washington and East Monroe, sit 350 jewelers.

This two-block stretch of downtown is Jewelers Row, Chicago’s historic diamond district, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the choices. Still, Kailee Swift’s Hamilton Jewelry stands out, her store a cut above the rest.

With her store nestled in the art deco Mallers Building at 5 S. Wabash St., New Eastside resident Swift has been quietly burninishing her reputation—and wowing clients—for decades by custom designing perfectly personal pieces.

Swift has been creating custom jewelry since she opened Hamilton Jewelry in 1997. Despite the Internet bringing a fundamental change in how people shop, Swift has kept with her handmade, traditional approach. It has served her well.

Swift offers a personalized, full-service experience. Due to her location on Jewelers Row, she can easily connect with goldsmiths who work nearby.

“I have more control and can oversee the projects firsthand,” she said. “Also, there is no need to ship jobs or have a messenger as retail stores do. Everything stays right here, which saves time and money.”

The hunt for the perfect piece of jewelry can seem daunting.

“Everyone’s afraid they’re going to be ripped off,” Swift said, “so I want people to trust Hamilton.”

Kevin and Allison Carnahan are longtime clients of Swift’s.

“I first used Kailee for Allison’s engagement ring,” Kevin said. “When I got there, I knew next to nothing about diamonds or bands or how diamonds were set. Kailee was able to explain the different diamond characteristics to help me design the perfect ring.”

“We love working with Kailee,” Allison added. “She is patient and she produces beautiful customized jewelry that you are excited to show off.”

Besides custom designs, Swift can also help with repairs and appraisals and help customers find a specific vintage piece.

Swift loves educating customers on just about everything jewelry-related.

“People come in so nervous,” she said, “I try to keep them at ease, provide tons of education and help them relax.”

In addition to serving her regulars, Swift is a familiar face at holiday shows, trunk shows and charity events.

“I love to give back, and [fundraising] is something that I hold close to my heart,” she said.

“We pride ourselves on quality, exceptional value and service over a lifetime,” Swift said.

Visit the store online at hamiltonjewelryinc.com

5 S. Wabash, Suite 1310

(312) 704-0404

Owner and designer, Kailee Swift, at her store Hamilton Jewelry on Jewelers Row. Photo by Angela Gagnon

The things in your home really should bring you joy

By Urban Real Estate

Winter in Chicago is the perfect opportunity to stay inside and tidy up. With the popularity of organizer-extraordinaire Marie Kondo’s Netflix hit “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” many are turning closets inside-out with the goal of finding happiness while decluttering.  

In real estate, decluttering ensures that a prospective buyer can “visualize” themselves in a space, so that a buyer is less focused on your life, and more focused on the home. The bonus is that living in a residence that looks and feels great is a win, all the way around.

Kondo’s six-step method is both a physical and emotional journey. The importance of loving your space isn’t just about the walls you live in – but also the momentos that share your home, as well. Michael Emery, senior partner and broker with Urban Real Estate, sees clients who struggle with what to do with belongings.

“When we are preparing a home for sale, all things will need to go at some point, so we recommend starting that packing process before we bring buyers in the door,” Emery said. “The goal behind bringing joy to your home is compounded with emotionally being prepared to remove a loved one’s belongings who has passed, clothes that simply don’t fit or you will never wear, or items from your children that simply need a new place other than your front closet,” Emeray adds.

As you declutter, think about how you want to use the items in your home. Some things you might want to keep, but it may not be necessary to keep them in your home.

“That’s what storage facilities are for. Think about what could go where, what you might keep for a second home or investment property, or what could be better used by someone else you know, and proceed confidently,” Emery added.

Contact us at Urban Real Estate for a consultation on the resources we have for organizing and staging, or for your next home. UrbanRealEstate.com or (312) 528-9200.

[Winter is a great time to declutter a home. Photo courtesy Urban Real Estate]

North Michigan Avenue Dental Group offers expert care and a friendly environment

By Elizabeth Czapski with North Michigan Avenue Dental Group


North Michigan Avenue Dental Group’s motto is simple: “We change lives by creating beautiful smiles.” The practice, run by Dr. Sanya Kirovski and Dr. Maryann Kelly, offers preventative, restorative, implant and cosmetic dental procedures in an office with large windows overlooking Michigan Avenue and the historic Water Tower.

The dental group’s core values are clinical excellence, outstanding customer service, and a pleasant patient experience. This has been the case since it was founded in the 1950s, Dr. Kirovski said. “When I took over the practice, I wanted to preserve the style of dentistry we had as well as implement new technologies and move forward,” she said. “We are highly talented and stay current with our knowledge about materials, techniques and technologies that help us diagnose and deliver the highest quality of care possible.”

The dentists at North Michigan Avenue Dental Group take a team approach to care, especially when it comes to restorative procedures. They work together with highly-skilled specialists to change the lives of patients for the better. “Restorative treatment in conjunction with orthodontics, periodontics and endodontics is a life-changing patient experience. The physical and emotional benefits of the restorative procedures dramatically improve patient’s self-confidence, which has a positive emotional impact on their lives,” Kirovski said.

When working with patients, Kirovski said, the goal is to evaluate the patient’s needs and use conservative treatments to preserve his or her own teeth as long as possible. From basic cleanings to full mouth restoration, “we want our patients to know that we are clinically excellent and provide quality materials, techniques and esthetic and functional results that will last. Also, we would like our patients to know we care for them, they trust us and know that we will help them make right decisions for long-term health,” she said.

Everyone who works in the practice ensures the office’s atmosphere is positive and friendly. “We have designed our dental space with an anxiety-free dental experience in mind.
The office is intimate, our team is friendly and the vibe is fun. We treat every one of our patients like friends and family and take time to explain treatment options and cost and to answer all questions,” Kirovski said.

“We spend a good part of our morning reviewing our entire day and discussing patients’ needs and desires,” said patient coordinator Katherine. “We strive to make patients’ visits as personable as they want.  In order to achieve that, from the moment they walk in, we are prepared to see them. I think it’s a very warm feeling to be part of our practice and makes the experience for our patients better. Not a lot of offices do that.”

Dental hygienist Kasia agreed. “My favorite part is making lasting relationships with my wonderful patients that come back for their dental visits,” she said. “It’s really exciting to them to see that you remembered, and it’s very personal—it’s not just another number, another patient. It’s a whole relationship.”

North Michigan Avenue Dental Group “Your smile is our inspiration”

845 N Michigan Ave, Suite #953W 312-337-3543
info@nmadental.com bestcosmeticdentistchicagoil.com

Valentine’s Day gifts for that very special someone

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

If you’re looking to go beyond the cliche of a dozen red roses or chocolate-covered strawberries this Valentine’s Day, consider these offerings.

A Red Wine … bath

Wine is often part of Valentine’s Day, but it usually comes in a glass, not a bathtub. AIRE Ancient Baths in the West Loop offers a romantic Red Wine Experience for two. With the Red Wine Experience, you receive a 30 minute private bath in an antique 17th century Venetian well, converted into a bath—of red wine.

The wine pool is “a unique and unforgettable experience that offers the opportunity to submerge yourself completely in the antioxidant properties of the Spanish Ribera del Duero red grapes,” according to AIRE Chicago’s website. The wine bath experience includes a cranio-facial massage, followed by a full body massage with grapeseed oil. Pricing for 180 minutes is $800 during the week and $900 on weekends.

For more information visit beaire.com or stop by their baths at 800 W. Superior St. They can also be reached by phone at (312) 945-7414.

Everlasting Flowers

Venus et Fleur offers real roses that last up to a year (with proper care). Roses come in a variety of colors, including gold, blue, or classic red. They also come in a variety of designs and boxes, and are meant to stay in the box for both design and longevity purposes. Price options are available from $39-$1,499 and beyond. A single rose starts at $39, a dozen is $299, and their Grandiose de Venus arrangement is $1,499.

Visit venusetfleur.com for more information.

A bespoke song

Always wanted to serenade your love, but don’t have the chops? Let Chicago-born Songfinch do it for you. Songfinch will create a song, either from scratch or from a foundation, about your love and relationship. Your tune is  delivered digitally in a week, and can include a photo slideshow if desired. There are an array of singers and styles to choose from, including rap, folk and pop. Songfinch grants you personal license usage to your song in perpetuity, meaning the song is yours (as long as you don’t make money on it) forever. For more information, visit songfinch.com.

The Coast upgrades amenities room in latest improvements

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

Since summer 2017, when Morguard took over management of the Coast apartments in Lakeshore East, the management company has been improving the property one project at a time.

In January, management announced an improved amenities space: the commons area for residents at the 345 E. Upper Wacker Drive property.

“Loren Stanton was the designer, and he did a fantastic job on that,” said Laura Collins, community manager for Coast at Lakeshore East. “We made it very user friendly. There are ports everywhere for people to work on laptops there. We have new TVs and a new shuffleboard, and we got a coffee service there.”

The apartments house more than 700 residents when at capacity. Collins explained that as residents turn over, Morguard is overhauling the apartments as well.

“Last year we did about 20 unit renovations,” she said. “And then this year we’re slated to do 75.”

Those improvements include new tile, backsplashes, paint, roller shades and cabinets. The company has already upgraded the residency’s entryway and soon, Collins said, they will upgrade the gym and the pool area as part of the ongoing project.

The building got three new grill stations in August, and plans for all new pool furniture are in the works, she said.

Residents made good use of the new grills.

“They saw use all the way through early December,” Collins said. “We had people running out there to grill steak and running back.”

To find out more about Coast at Lakeshore East, visit rentcoast.com.

Snow superstars clear the way at the Aon Center

By Stephanie Racine | Staff Writer

It’s a big building, in a big city, so it’s no surprise that when winter comes, it’s a big job keeping the Aon Center’s perimeter free of snow and ice.

How do they do it? With people and preparation.

Every winter, the Aon Center employs Harvard Maintenance to keep the property dry and safe during even the worst weather. It starts with a plan. Each shift leader decides who and what is needed for the job, depending on the weather.

“Lakeside buildings generally receive more snow than properties inland, so we communicate forecasts and keep our response dynamic in case additional resources or manpower are needed if a storm worsens beyond what was estimated,” said Harvard Maintenance senior director Karen Camerano.

Project manager Kate Krolicki said security at the Aon Center reaches out when the snow begins to fall downtown and a crew is assembled to salt, scoop and dry off the paths using a squeegee.

It’s no easy feat to keep feet dry, and it takes a toll on even the most experienced workers. “Our employees have to be in the cold for long periods of time, so we educate them on frostbite, exhaustion and other potential health concerns,” Camerano said.

Pro-tips:

For those who like a walkway as immaculate as the Aon Center’s—but can’t afford employees to do it for them—Camerano emphasizes readiness. She recommends putting down salt immediately and shoveling before the end of a snowfall. “We aim to never let the snow accumulate to a level where shoveling or lifting the snow becomes too arduous,” Camerano said.  

1 2 3 4