Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Fond Farewell

Hello all my loyal readers! OK fine, let's be real...

Hi Mom.

This is my last week as an official HI-Chicago intern, and thus the last official HI-Chicago intern post of the summer of 2011! Have faith that another member of the HI team will be able to fill my (admittedly large) shoes with equally witty and informative contributions, and keep you in the know for all of Chicago’s top events! As we soak in the bittersweet moment, let us begin…

Chicago Air and Water Show: August 20-21, 11am-4pm

If you haven’t heard about the Chicago Air and Water show, you’ve probably heard it, at least if you’ve ever been within 500 miles of Chicago towards the end of August. This rocket-powered event features the US Air Force Thunderbirds, US Army Parachute Team Golden Knights, and US Navy Parachute Team Leap Frogs, all demonstrating their loud but impressive skill. If you’re super pumped to see the show as close as possible, we recommend posting up at North Avenue Beach, the Airshow center, where you’ll be right in front of the action and be able to listen to MC Herb Hunter broadcasts (or you can tune in at WBBM 780) and be on the front line where the Golden Knights land, but be aware that crowds flock here, so you should try to arrive 1.5-2 hours early to get a good spot. Other hotspots include Belmont Harbor Point, Diversey and the lakefront, Oak Street Beach, Ohio Street Beach, and Navy Pier – these may not be as packed as North Avenue, but the crowds will still be pretty dense, so don’t plan on sunbathing! *Insiders note: you can see the show without the crowds on Friday, August 19, as they do a full practice show during the same time!*

If you’re not planning on watching the show, then get the heck out of dodge. It might be a good time to explore the lovely neighborhoods to the south or the west, or really anything away from the lake! Check out Chinatown, catch a White Sox game at US Cellular Field (vs. Rangers, 6:10pm on Saturday, 1:10pm on Sunday), mosey over to Little Italy/University Village, or even play around in the Wicker Park/Bucktown scene – just avoid Lincoln Park and the downtown lakefront! And when you get that panic attack thinking Chicago is under siege, remember: It’s just the Thunderbirds. Free.

North Side Summerfest: August 20, 12-10pm; August 21, 11am-9pm

You’re probably wondering, why on earth would I go to another event with Summerfest in the name and Sixteen Candles, “Chicago’s favorite 80s cover band,” headlining? Seriously, they’ve played almost every street festival this summer; it’s impressive they have time to do anything else. But summing up the reason to visit this North Side festival can be done in 4 words: Hot. Dog. Eating. Contest. This is everything a summer festival should be, and North Side Summerfest is finally delivering. Even if you don’t want to stuff 20+ hot dogs down your throat (although if you soak them in water, I believe the bun goes down easier), some of the area’s top specialty hot dog vendors will be selling their gourmet dogs so you can get your chance at a real Chicago dog: yellow mustard, white onions, sweet pickle relish, tomato, pickled sport peppers and a dill pickle spear. Absolutely no ketchup allowed. Enjoy! $5 donation.

Wrigleyville Block Party: August 19-21, 11am-8pm

Don’t miss your last chance to tailgate with 5,000 of your closest friends for the Cubs-Cardinals series this weekend! The big draw of a Wrigleyville Block Party mainly comes from wanting to experience the general messiness of the neighborhood on a game day, and have the opportunity to do it on the street without fear of authorities coming in and ruining the fun. Then again, if you live in Wrigleyville, expect a higher-than-average amount of beer cans, hot dog wrappers, and rowdiness on your front lawn. Sorry about that. Anyway, the game schedule is as follows: 8/19-1:20pm, 8/20-3:10pm, 8/21-7:05pm, and tickets run from $15 to $75 (or way less if you choose to buy one on the street after the 1st inning is over). Entry to the block party is free.

And while I could go on about the various other festivals this weekend – you can also spend your weekend at the South Shore Summer Festival, Greekfest, or Ladyfest Midwest (not actually a street festival since it’s held in a bar, but it does have fest in the name – actually, this sounds pretty cool, anyone with a feminist kick should definitely check it out and soak in the post-punk, riot, girl power spirit), we’re going to end on a different note.

Summer is almost over, and the amount of programming the city has had to offer has been intense, to say the least. If you missed out on a few things, or have been so utterly overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of events at your disposal that you hid under the couch for most of July, don’t feel bad. It’s not too late to get in on the action, so behold a somewhat imperfect you-should-really-do-these-things-before-it-gets-too-cold-so-you-won’t-ever-leave-the-house-unless-it’s-necessary-for-survival list for the remaining weeks of summertime! Be sure not to consider this all-inclusive by any means;I’m sure there are some events out there that don’t revolve around free music or drinks. Maybe.

»Take in a free concert at Millennium Park

There is still tons of music to be heard (for free) in Millennium Park (for free) with the phenomenal backdrop of a Chicago skyline (for free). Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz will continue to host its Thursday night shows until September 1st, the Lunchbreak Music Series has its mid-afternoon performances until September 5th, and the critically acclaimed (and popularly acclaimed, so you know it’s actually cool) Chicago Dancing Festival takes place on August 27th, so there’s still time to experience this Chicago summertime staple! Labor Day Weekend wraps it all up with the Chicago Jazz Festival with live music in multiple locations, but the highlight rests at our beloved Pritzker Pavillion Friday night, September 2nd, for the Saxophone Summit. Did I mention yet that it’s all free?

»Get your groove on at Chicago SummerDance…

Free dance lessons, incredible bands and dance styles from all over the world, and the chance to stumble around with 200 other Chicagoans who have no idea what they’re doing? Absolutely. If you have yet to check out a Chicago SummerDance, every Thursday through Saturday in Grant Park, then be sure to hit it before its final installation on September 18th! Some highlights in the line-up include Cuban Salsa with Charanga Tropical (8/20), Honky-Tonk Country Two-Step with The Hoyle Brothers (8/27), Jump Blues and Swing with the Flat Cats (9/3), and African Expressions and Soukous with Occidental Brothers Dance Band International (9/15). It may not help you from looking like a fool at your friends’ weddings (shame that nobody does the Honky Tonk Two-Step at weddings anymore…), but it’s FUN!

»Enjoy the sunshine on a restaurant/bar patio or rooftop…

Many restaurants and bars have fantastic outdoor spaces that only make appearances in the warmer months, so be sure to hit a few beer gardens or rooftops before they go back into hibernation! Some of our recommendations: the newly debuted, spacious beer garden at Frontier in Noble Square; Bridge House Tavern in River North for a patio brunch overlooking the water; West Loop’s Market with a sports filled rooftop deck (and ping-pong in the beer garden!); killer views and a cocktail at Epic’s rooftop lounge; the sexy vibe at the aptly named ROOF atop the Wit Hotel in the Loop. Bring your sunscreen and enjoy!

»Check out a neighborhood art show and get in touch with your inner critic…

There are tons of free art shows all over the city, and even if you have no idea what that sculpture made of recycled condoms is supposed to be, it’s fun to guess. Head to River North and check out “What If: An International Art Show” this Saturday (8/20) – artists from all over the world have contributed to the out-there show claiming to represent an alternate universe. Not enough for you? They’re also serving free appetizers and free cocktails to those guests who cough up the $0 admission price. Yes, that’s supposed to say $0. It’s free.

»Snuggle up with some friends for a flick in the Movies in the Park series…

This series, sponsored by the Chicago Park District and Charter One, has offered movies nearly every day of the week in parks all across the city, and will continue until September 16th. Check out the schedule for a full list of parks and films for the rest of the summer, then be sure to pop some popcorn, grab a blanket, and head out at dusk to your neighborhood park.

»Explore your favorite neighborhood with an always-popular pub crawl…

Pub crawls are this writer’s favorite way to explore a city – they give you a good feel for the music, the people, the atmosphere…and they’re generally messy and loud and a freaking good time! Really any neighborhood that has a bunch of bars or clubs clustered together will always provide a good setting for a pub crawl, and you may stumble (literally stumble, depending how many bars you’ve already hit) across your new favorite dive or dancing spot. You can also visit sites like SmallTabs or Drinktown to see what specials are at bars all over the city to keep your wallet from feeling the pain of your explorations. Not comfortable planning your own? Join HI-Chicago on one of our volunteer-led nights out – we have upcoming bar crawls in Wicker Park (8/20) and Lincoln Park (8/27), or check back on our outings calendar for more dates!

»Be awed by the magnificent 15-minute Navy Pier fireworks show…

OK, it’s not that magnificent, but I don’t care how old you are, fireworks are still cool. Navy Pier’s summer fireworks series (Wednesdays at 9:30pm or Saturdays at 10:15pm) will only be around until September 3rd, but you can still catch them on Saturdays at 9pm throughout the fall until October 29th. Our suggestion is to pack up a picnic and head over to the lakefront by the Museum Campuses to see the show from there – the view of the city is even better from the south end, and you can bring your own food and drinks to avoid the overpriced tourist traps on the pier! Be sure to head back through Millennium Park so you can see Buckingham Fountain’s 20-minute light and water show (with music that’ll make you think it’s 4th of July every day…or that you’re at a Toby Keith show), which happens hourly after dusk.

»Run into the Tamale Guy at your favorite bar…

And call me immediately. That Claudio is elusive.

It’s been a lot of fun working here at HI-Chicago this summer (anybody looking for a fantastic internship and the chance to explore this magnificent city, check out the website for postings – White Sox fans need not apply), and I hope all two of you reading this took at least one of our suggestions for a great Chicago summer! Try to take advantage of these opportunities soon, mainly because the city is broke and really should stop spending all this money. Like maybe Taste of Chicago could be scaled down a bit; you can only eat so many Pickles on a Stick and Rainbow Cones in one week. And so, it’s been real, Chicago. I’ll be back soon. But for now…onwards to Iceland!

What? There was a cheap ticket. Maybe you’ll even get a blog about it.

Written by: Keren Mikva

1 comment:

Tony said...

How great was the Airshow last weekend? Now we turn our focus to the Jazz Festival! This is why I love Chi-Town!