Chicago Ridge Park District
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Chicago Ridge Park Dist, IL, is a beautiful park for people (and pets) of all ages to enjoy a fun-filled day outdoors. For some great, quality leisure time, Chicago Ridge Park Dist offers the perfect park to keep you relaxed.
Chicago Ridge Park District
A Chicago punk rocker offers a rough-edged alternative to Barney. Kids learn, parents rejoice, everyone wins. Three experiences prepared Dr. Paul Crowe for his current musical venture: earning a PhD in developmental psychology, becoming a father, and opening for Dee Dee and Marky Ramone. Shake it all together like a bottle of punk-rock baby formula and you wind up with Crowe’s alter-ego: Crusty Booger. Crowe—or Crusty, rather—is the frontman of the Boogers, a band that describes itself as “the Wiggles’ worst nightmare.” Their power-chord-heavy brand of rock draws as much from Crowe’s years in dingy punk clubs as it does from his recent background in childhood development. Though unconventional, to say the least, the combination has racked up awards and earned the Boogers praise from NPR’s All Things Considered. Though they might sound rough around the edges, the band’s call-and-response songs wouldn’t be out of place in a classroom. They help kids master conversational skills, teach them how words are built through rhyming, and encourage them to dance with a speedy, steady tempo. But the biggest perk for parents may be that the sound strays far, faraway from the sugary-sweet confections offered by other children’s artists. This is undoubtedly rock-and-roll—but instead of “I Wanna Be Sedated,” you get “I Just Wanna Play.” (Sunday, March 2, at 12 p.m. All ages, naturally. $6; get tickets here) Photo: Peter WochniakRead More
You don’t have to be 5 years old to get breathless at the sight of a towering fir tree cutting through the winter darkness with a thousand points of light. In honor of this centuries-old tradition, we’ve compiled five festive ways to light up a cold winter’s night. 1. Lights + Animals You’ll find dazzling light displays at both Lincoln Park Zoo (2001 N. Clark St.) and Brookfield Zoo (8400 31st St., Brookfield). Lincoln Park’s ZooLights twinkle to a soundtrack each night, and Brookfield’s Holiday Magic event counters with a laser light show plus more than one million bulbs that form a luminous display some polar bears may confuse for the northern lights. At both nighttime events, you’ll find live ice carving, entertainment, and, of course, critters big and small. Admission to ZooLights is free, but cars must pay a parking fee of $20. Brookfield Zoo admission fees ($15 for adults; $10.50 for kids aged 3–11) and parking fees ($10) apply. 2. Lights + Plants The Chicago Botanic Garden (1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe) offers a treasure trove of holiday delights, not the least of which is a display of more than 750,000 lights strung throughout the trees that light the path to Wonderland. Inside Wonderland, kids will find an intricate holiday train, known as the Wonderland Express, chugging its way through a detailed model of Chicago landmarks. A 40-foot fir tree, brought in via helicopter, stands guard outside Wonderland, serving as a helpful air-traffic control tower for lost flying reindeer. Wonderland admission ($12 for adults; $10 for kids aged 3–12) and parking fees ($25+) apply. 3. Lights + History As the former home of a General Electric founder, it’s no surprise that historic Cuneo Mansion & Gardens (1350 N. Milwaukee Ave., Vernon Hills) shines extra brightly around the holidays. The turn-of-the-century estate—owned by Loyola University—partners with the Village of Vernon Hills each year to illuminate its 97 acres with a drive-through Winter Wonderland display. Cars pass under dozens of bright archways flanked by animated displays of light-up animals, trees, and toys, all accompanied by music streamed by a local radio station. Admission costs $5 per car Monday–Thursday, $10 per car Friday–Sunday; cash only. 4. Lights + Beer Known most of the year for its well-executed pub fare, signature cocktails, and innovative “layered” draft beers, Butch McGuire’s (20 W. Division St.) transforms into a twinkling wonderland come December. The electric spectacle takes over the entire restaurant, with strings of lights dripping from every inch of the ceiling and a platoon of toy soldiers standing guard over the bar, awaiting a beer delivery from the model train running overhead. 5. Lights + Giant Toys A giant biplane, tall ship, and locomotive take over North School Park each year as just three of the majestic light sculptures that form Arlington Heights’ holiday display (Arlington Heights Rd. and Eastman St.). More than 70,000 lights make up the city’s 22nd annual display, whose theme is classic children’s toys such as dump trucks, teddy bears, dreidels, and hopelessly tangled Slinkys. Admission is free. Photos courtesy of Brookfield Zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago Botanic Garden, Cuneo Mansion, and Butch McGuire's.Read More
Poetry has a reputation for being stuffy, boring, and inaccessible. Just don’t tell that to Mairead Case. Before she stepped into the role of Youth Services Coordinator at the Poetry Foundation Library (61 W. Superior St.), Case worked as a volunteer coordinator for Young Chicago Authors’ Louder Than a Bomb youth poetry festival. There, she saw just how relevant poetry can be to Chicago’s teenagers. “There are a couple poems that people wrote at YCA that really speak to life in Chicago,” Case says. “Kevin Coval wrote one about riding the Blue Line, and José Olivarez wrote about how he always says his name differently depending on who he’s talking to.” Now that she’s charged with introducing young children to the Poetry Foundation’s massive library, Case often finds herself drawing on her experience with YCA. She constantly searches the library’s 30,000 volumes for books that similarly echo the real-life experience of a kid growing up in Chicago. The books that she does find are available for kids and their parents to peruse during the library’s open hours (Monday–Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.). But for the library, availability has always been less of a problem than publicity. The Poetry Foundation houses one of the most expansive collections of poetry in the world, and many local parents and children don’t realize that it’s right in their backyard. Case and Katherine Litwin, the library’s director, are out to change that. Learning to Play with Language One of their surest tactics is to catch kids at a young age. I spoke with Litwin about some of the weekly events the library puts on to accomplish this—in particular, an event called “Poemtime” geared toward children aged 2–5. Held every Wednesday, the event often reveals something that both Case and Litwin have noticed in their time at the foundation: how naturally receptive young children are to poetry. “They’re very open to playing with language,” Litwin explains. “If you look at books for very small kids, they’re almost all written in rhyme, which I think really has to do with the musicality of language. That’s something that kids respond to innately.” But the young kids aren’t the only ones who react in exciting, unpredictable ways. “When we have a group that’s a little bit older, we’ll read them a poem and then let them play something like Mad Libs,” Litwin explains. “They’ll get the same poem, and they have to insert words into it.” If they’re feeling especially daring, Litwin and Case will try to introduce the concept of “found” poetry, which compiles and rearranges words from various different texts. “Once, we looked at two books that were written about Hurricane Katrina,” Litwin recalls. “One of them was controversial because it used the words of Katrina survivors without getting permission from those people, so we asked the kids, ‘Well, what do you think?’” They were met with a grab bag of reactions. One kid just shook his head and said, “This is a huge mess,” remembers Case. Another’s reaction: “Oh my God, this is incredible!” For her part, Litwin loves the debate. “There’s not a right or wrong answer,” she says. “Contemporary poets don’t even agree on these issues.” Case often finds humor—and a kind of refreshing honesty—in the way kids interpret the art in the Poetry Foundation’s rotating exhibition room. “There was this Joan Mitchell painting in here for a while, and it was very fun to look at it with them. This one kid wrote a poem that said [the painting] reminds him of when his mom burns macaroni and cheese. And it was very funny, because it did look like that.” Rhyme and Relevance “I think that here in Chicago, there are a lot of different ways that poetry has been taught,” Case reflects, “and a lot of kids think it has nothing to do with their lives.” But she thinks that the experience of living and commuting in a modern city like Chicago creates exciting opportunities to engage with the medium. These opportunities are hardly limited to annual festivals such as Louder Than a Bomb. In a city with nearly three million residents, it doesn’t take long to find a teenager with something to say. Weekly events such as YCA’s #WordPlay workshop and open mic exist to amplify their voices, but Case insists that there’s also a joy in experiencing poetry on the page. “Poetry is something you can just hold in your hand. You can browse a book of poetry a lot more easily than you can browse a book of fiction,” she says. Poetry may never take over the world, but that’s not the point. So long as Chicago’s kids know what’s out there, there may come a day when they reach for a book of poems instead of a pair of headphones to pass the time between train stops. The Poetry Foundation Library is open Monday–Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Browse the foundation’s website for children’s poetry resources and a calendar of upcoming events.Read More
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