A closer look at the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade

By Elizabeth Czapski, Staff Writer

The Chicago Thanksgiving Parade has been bringing joy to residents for decades. The event started in 1934 as a way give people a little happiness during the Great Depression and this year’s parade promises to be as joy-filled and as fun as ever, with a few modern flourishes.

What’s new…

Viewers should tune in on time because right in the very first hour of the Uncle Dan’s Outdoor Store Thanksgiving Parade will feature a performance by the Black Ensemble Theater. The performing arts group will offer a preview performance of their “Women of Soul” production, which runs through Jan. 13. The performance will include a special salute to Aretha Franklin as well as a celebration of some of the biggest stars of soul.

What’s returning…

Every parade features familiar balloons, floats and music. But how many have Wookies?

Yes, the The 501st Legion – Midwest Garrison is back again. In late October parade officials announced the return of the largest Star Wars costuming club in the area.

The star warriors will be joined in the parade by another group of relics—knights. Returning this year will be Medieval Times’ Knights of the Realm.

Also returning is the The Southland College Prep band, a college band that formed in 2010. The band has grown in recent years and is now considered one of the premier marching bands in the parade, boasting 100 members with 25 dancers to boot.

Speaking of bands, local favorite Kelly High School Marching Trojans will return to perform their 2018 winter festival show.

The grand marshal…

While this year’s grand marshal had not been announced by press time, Chicagoans and parade fans can expect the marshal to be beloved and a part of the city’s history. Past marshals have included Ronald McDonald (2017) (the company is headquartered in Chicago),Chicago native and actor Matt Walsh (2016) and Chicago native and wrestler CM Punk (2012).

For a complete list of what to expect, check out the parade website, www.chicagothanksgivingparade.com.

Behind the scenes…

Of course, there is more to the parade than the floats and smiles most people see. Amanda Caswell, who does public relations for the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade, provided some of the parade’s fun facts. Here’s a look behind the scenes at the parade:

In 2014, 400,000 people attended the parade — that’s almost equivalent to the entire population of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

That year, 2,500 gift bags were handed out.

There are 5,280 feet in the parade route, which is exactly one mile.

It’s a global phenomenon with 19 states, 16 countries and 23 different cultural groups were represented in the 2014 parade, making it a true international affair. Thanks to television coverage, the parade is annually available to approximately 80 million homes and viewed by millions around the world. In addition, many visitors come from around the world, from places like Switzerland, Mexico, Australia, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Canada and beyond.

According to media reports of last year’s parade, there were around 5,000 parade participants, 1,300 volunteers, 15 floats of all kinds and 18 marching bands, according to numbers from Thrillist, the Chicago Tribune, and Patch.com.

Finally, about 200 people handled the parade’s balloons in the 2014 parade, and those balloons were filled with 39,500 cubic feet of helium.

For the record, in 2014 there were 70 members of the “poo crew,” who ensure State Street would not smell like manure after the parade was over.

The Chicago Thanksgiving Parade will take place on Nov. 22, 8–11 a.m. on State Street from Congress to Randolph. Don’t want to leave the house? Anyone can watch the parade live on WGN America and WGN9.

If you go…

Leave early and plan well. Streets will be blocked off for the parade route and parking will be tough, so give yourself lots of time. Public transportation will be running, though on a holiday schedule so if you take a train, check the schedule.

If you want a front row seat on State Street, good luck and set the alarm. It’s best to arrive by 7 a.m. to claim a spot, though there are usually spaces near State and Van Buren not too far from the Harold Washington Library. Expect train noise around that area.

 

The Chicago Thanksgiving Parade provided statistics from the 2014 event. Updated stats will be available after this year’s parade.

New takes on the Thanksgiving table

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

 

Thanksgiving does not have to consist of the same canned cranberry sauce, cornucopia and bread stuffing every November. This year, throw out the rulebook and use these tips to augment your favorite holiday classics.  

Lighter dishes

Staying on the lighter side of Thanksgiving can be satisfying. Try adding cauliflower to stuffing in lieu of bread or rice. For vegan guests, swap out animal byproducts for lentils or chickpeas in a stuffing-type side dish. Sweet potatoes are a good substitute for regular potatoes in mashed, baked, or fried forms, while butternut squash soup is a light and classically-inspired alternative to heavier side dishes.

Cultural additions

For extra flavor, try adding a cultural twist to Thanksgiving favorites. A chile rub on the turkey can give your bird a Southwestern kick, while pumpkin egg rolls or turkey dumplings can make great finger foods. For a simpler option, add a dish from a favorite international cuisine: carbonara, stuffed grape leaves, rice pilaf and spring rolls all fit in with Thanksgiving mainstays.

Fun with pumpkins

Pumpkins aren’t just for Halloween. Spray paint pumpkins gold, white or silver for a unique addition to a table or decoration. Painting the menu on a pumpkin is a bold way to announce what will be on the table. Mini pumpkins can be used as seat markers or to denote what cheeses are on a cheese plate. Add flowers and glitter or string lights to pumpkins for an extra dimension.

Say goodbye to turkey

For the main course, consider going with a Midwestern classic like a  honey baked ham, and make your stuffing with a meat such as lamb or beef. A pescatarian Thanksgiving could feature lobster or salmon with a cranberry sauce. Or get rid of the meat altogether for a vegetarian spread – mushroom and chestnut “beef” Wellington can substitute turkey for a vegan main dish.

Reilly nixes Spire for now over community concerns

Staff reports

After months of speculation, Chicago Alderman Brendan Reilly rejected the 400 N. Lake Shore Drive development, also known as the Spire Site.

In late October, Reilly announced that he would reject the proposal after the developers failed to consider any community concerns. This is a setback for a development that has been in the works for over a decade, but it does not mean the project is dead.

“As you know, I joined with SOAR to host a community meeting on May 15 to review the developer’s proposal,” Reilly wrote in an email to constituents. “The meeting was very well attended and we received a tremendous amount of community feedback. My staff catalogued all of the community input from that meeting and we created a list of priority issues that needed to be addressed during my negotiation process with the developer.”

Reilly said he sent the developer a “detailed memo” in August enumerating community concerns, and that their reply did not address any of those issues.

 

“Unfortunately, several weeks later, Related Midwest provided me with a response that did not adequately address any of the major concerns about their proposal,” he wrote.

Reilly said the community had concerns about the hotel use, the tall podium base of the buildings, traffic concerns and security concerns along the Riverwalk and at DuSable Park.

However, the alderman said the project is not dead because Related Midwest may still address the issues at some point in the future, allowing development to move forward.

“In the event the developer chooses to address the legitimate concerns regarding their proposal, my office will be sure to provide all impacted neighbors with an update,” he said.

Reilly then listed exactly what must be addressed.

  • Access to the site via East North Water Street must be significantly restricted
  • Proposed hotel use should be eliminated
  • Podium height and bulk must be reduced
  • Make greater use of the Lake Shore Drive access ramp system and below grade parking system to manage deliveries, services vehicles and pick-up/drop-offs.
  • Developer must assemble a security plan for the Riverwalk and DuSable Park
  • Elimination of the proposed Ogden Slip Public Esplanade

 

No ‘paws’ in winter fun for Fido: Indoor activities for your dog

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

 

Doggy Paddle

Doggy Paddle, 1430 W. Willow St., has indoor pools for pups, allowing your four-legged friends to get some aquatic exercise even when the lake is frozen over. Swimming for dogs has many physical and psychological benefits, including improved flexibility and mobility and reduced stress and anxiety, according to Doggy Paddle. where, dogs can swim privately, or in groups based on temperament and experience. An instructor is always present while dogs are in the pool. In the new member pool, the instructor will help guide furry friends. Private swimming lessons are also available. Doggy Paddle also has an indoor dog park, use of which is included with a swim. Vaccinations are required and unneutered dogs can be booked for private swims only. Prices begin at $32 for group swims. For more information, visit doggypaddle.com

K9University

K9University, 2945 W Lake St., has an indoor open-play, climate-controlled dog park, open 9–11 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday that allows your dogs to get out all their energy on winter weekends. To use the park, customers pay $15 for the first dog, with $8 for any additional dogs in the family. Staff is on hand at all times, but owners are encouraged to watch and learn what safe play between dogs looks like, according to K9University’s website. The space is also available for private reservations to throw a puppy birthday party or get-together. K9University recommends checking its calendar for special events or a specific pup party. Vaccinations are required. K9U also features boarding, training and daycare. For more information, visit k9uchicago.com

See Spot shop…

Running errands with a pup can kill two birds with one stone by giving your dog some exercise while you knock things off your to-do list. Certain stores and shops welcome pets in downtown Chicago, so you can bring your buddy along with you. Besides pet stores such as PetSmart or Kriser’s, The Shops at North Bridge, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdale’s, at 900 N. Michigan Ave., are pet friendly. Be sure to enter in the Walton entrance for Bloomingdale’s, as the rest of the mall does not allow dogs. Other stores that allow dogs include LUSH, Restoration Hardware, Anthropologie and the Apple Store.

Open for business: Downtown Chicago hotels booming

The Hotel Julian includes a new eatery, About Last Knife. Courtesy photo.

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

 

Downtown Chicago is booming for hotels. In the last month, the Hotel Julian opened in the New Eastside while in the Streeterville area, Aloft opened a new hotel and the Red Roof Inn opened the St. Clair Hotel.

These properties offer hundreds of new rooms for city visitors, along with luxury and easy access to all the downtown amenities.

The Hotel Julian, which opened Oct. 1 at 168 N. Michigan Ave., the corner of Michigan and Randolph, features 218 rooms, with millennium kings and double rooms.

“St. Julian is the patron saint of hospitality, so that is where the name comes from,” said George Jordan, Executive VP with Oxford Hotels and Resorts, the owners and operators of Hotel Julian.

The name of the hotel’s restaurant, About Last Knife, offers an all-day menu.

“You can get an omelet in the morning or at night, or beef Wellington by the slice in the morning or at night,” Jordan said. The hotel pays tribute to the building’s original proprietors Benjamin Marshall and Charles Fox of the eponymous Marshall and Fox architectural firm, with Marshall’s image on the restaurant’s wall.

In Streeterville, Aloft Chicago Mag Mile opened Oct. 1, at 243 E. Ontario St.

Aloft is a Marriott Hotel brand, and Tishman is the developer, owner and manager. There are 337 guest rooms and a restaurant, according to their website. The hotel takes inspiration from the site’s former occupant, the Chicago Contemporary Museum of Art.

Additionally, the Red Roof Inn opened the St. Clair Hotel on Oct. 1, at 162 E. Ontario, as a part of their upscale Red Collection hotels.

 

For more information about the Hotel Julian, call 312-346-1200 or visit www.hoteljulianchicago.com/

 

For more information about Aloft Chicago Mag Mile, call 312-429-6600 or visit

www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/chiaa-aloft-chicago-mag-mile/

 

For more information about the St. Clair Hotel, call 312-787-3580 or visit www.redroof.com/property/il/chicago/RRI281