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Holiday Adventures Begin!

Frank Brichetto

Chicago Correspondent

Welcome to November! The holiday season is upon us, good cheer to all; even with the shopping, planning, decorating, and the push to get work assignments done before year’s end, we are having fun.  Come join us for another month of adventures in Chicago.

We happen to have some unscheduled vacation days left.  You, too?  Lucky YOU, because today, Friday November 8th, is FREE day at the Adler Planetarium.  There are six exhibits open for us to explore; I’m looking forward to Mission Moon, which “invites you to experience America’s first steps into space through the eyes of Captain Lovell and his family. You’ll find out how the United States became the first nation to put a man on the Moon.” I remember the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, US astronauts overtaking the Soviet lead in the race to the moon, and I clearly remember Apollo 13‘s on-board disaster, the fear, and unbelievable joy when the capsule landed safely in the Atlantic.

Among the other exhibits is Astronomy and Culture, where we can learn how devices such as armillary spheres and astrolabes were developed and used as calendars, clocks, and navigational devices.  Don’t you love this place? There’s always so much more to learn and explore, it just takes my breath away. The Adler Planetarium, on the Museum Campus, 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, https://www.adlerplanetarium.org, opens at 9am and closes at 4pm; meet us there right at 9am, please?

That was so much fun, so interesting, it always gets me going.  Oh, you noticed that, did you? But we’re actually tired after all that walking and especially all that brain work, so let’s head home to our respective dinners and obligations, and we’ll meet again tomorrow evening.

It’s Saturday November 9th, and hey, you know what?  I’m in the mood for a good, solid cheeseburger. Chicago seems to be just bristling with new places claiming bragging rights for the sublime specialness of their offerings, and charging ridiculous prices.  I’ve tried a few of these and I’m not impressed.

Let’s go instead to Brgrbelly, 5739 West Irving Park Road, https://brgrbellyrestaurant.com, where we can get any of a number of great cheeseburgers, with names such as Leadbelly, Gallows Pole, Salty Dog and more. You can choose a ground beef-smoked pork, chicken, or meatless patty, and the trimmings are fresh and delicious. This, dear readers, is a real beef patty, cooked to order and served on a bun that’s baked fresh every day.  Every one I’ve tried has been excellent, as well as quite affordable, and includes their “Almost Famous Butter Cookie.”  Yeah, that’s the ticket. Will you meet us here, about 5pm, before this small place gets crowded?  We’ll talk about life, work and fun as we dive into these delectable burgers. Delicious, yes? It’s always fun and truly enjoyable when we get together; we’ll get together again this week.

Please remember that today, Monday November 11th, is Veteran’s Day.  Today, we honor the signing of the Armistice that in 1918 ended the fighting, “on land, on sea and in the air” of World War I.  While it took many months to reach a final conclusion in the Treaty of Versailles, the fighting was finally over. World War I was supposed to be the “war to end all wars”, and with the formation of the League of Nations as part of both the Armistice and the Treaty, the hope of ending wars began to grow.  These days, in recognition of the wars that followed and continue to be fought, we honor all military personnel who have dedicated a part of their lives to the service of our country.

Wednesday November 13th, is FREE Day at the Field Museum of Natural History, home to Sue, the largest Tyrannosaurus skeleton ever discovered, as well as a full-size, touchable model of  Maximo, the largest dinosaur ever discovered.  Amazing!  Max stands on the main floor, in Stanley Field Hall, and stretches a whopping 122 ft. folks, about the same length as three school buses. His head pokes over  the railings on the second floor, so be sure to smile for the photos with him.  Say “Cheese!”

We’ll walk through the Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet, to see creatures that have lived on earth “from single-celled organisms to our extended human family.” Fossils, videos and interactive displays will explain evolution, the process that connects all living things on Earth.  Let’s walk to Elizabeth Morse Genius Hall of Dinosaurs to meet Sue, as well as more than a dozen other large dinosaurs. They are all REALLY big, and look at those TEETH.  I’m glad they’re dead. There is so much more to experience than just the dinosaurs, we’ll be here all day.

The Field Museum is open from 9am until 4pm, so please schedule that remaining vacation day, because this is not to be missed and it’s all FREE today at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, on the Museum Campus, http://www.fieldmuseum.org.

This Saturday, November 16th, meet us, please, about 10am, for breakfast at the Bistro in the 15th

Annual Lycée French Market, on the campus of the Lycée Français de Chicago, 1929 W. Wilson Ave., https://www.lyceechicago.org. Lycée Français is Chicago’s finest international education community, providing an excellent multicultural, multilingual education that prepares students to be global citizens in an increasingly global world.

The Bistro offers us authentic French cooking in a comfortable setting. Everything is so delicious,  especially served with genuine French roast coffee. See what I mean?  Now, let’s shop:  the French Market is an extraordinary showcase, displaying decorative and fine art items as well as jewelry, clothing, gourmet food (of course), and much more. For a $5.00 suggested donation, we’ll cruise the entire market.  Do you think my mom would like this painting?

Sleep in late, it’s Sunday November 17th, and we all deserve a rest. But don’t let the whole day and especially the evening drift away, not when we can head out to the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N Lincoln Ave., Chicago, 773.728.6000, https://www.oldtownschool.org, to hear The Hot Sardines, https://hotsardines.com/ live in concert. Starting at 7pm this phenomenal band recreates jazz standards and tunes that we’ve all heard and recognize, but through the talents of this remarkable ensemble they take new life in a way we will just have to hear to appreciate and I can’t wait!

Friday November 22nd, meet us again for the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, Millennium Park, 6pm, Michigan Ave. and Randolph St. It really is the holiday season, friends, when we meet for the annual lighting of Chicago’s own Christmas Tree.  The ceremony always starts about 6pm, the tree lights up between 7pm and 7:30pm.  The fantastic fireworks display is always a magical way to end the occasion, isn’t it?

Saturday, November 23rd, is the Magnificent Mile Tree Lighting Parade, headed up by everybody’s favorites Mickey and Minnie Mouse.  There are holiday sales, activities for kids, and much more up and down the Magnificent Mile starting at 11:00am, so let’s see what creative adventure might await us. There is a live music stage, chances to meet the artists, and even a real circus inside the AT&T store, how exciting! Chicago is headquarters to Connie’s Pizza, Frango, Garrett Popcorn, and even Eli’s Cheesecake, and they will all be there to keep us from getting  hungry.

The parade starts at 5:30pm, at Michigan Ave. and Oak St., where they will begin the flamboyant march down Michigan Ave., lighting over one million lights in the trees that line the street all the way to Wacker Dr., where we’ll finish with a spectacular fireworks display over the Chicago River, just before 7:00pm. Whew! We’re tired. You’re stopping by on Thursday, aren’t you? See you then.

Thursday, November 28th, is my favorite family holiday of the year, Thanksgiving! Make sure  everything is ready beforehand, so you can bring the entire family, all your friends, everyone you can possibly invite and get down to the PARADE! The action starts right on State Street, at Congress, 8am, marching loudly and grandly to Randolph St. finishing about 11am.  There will be hundreds of floats, marching bands, horse brigades, clowns and so much more. We’ll be there before 7:30am, so meet us  at Madison to get a good place to see everything. It’s over already? It’s only 11:00! Plenty of time to get home to have the house, kitchen, food and table ready for the feast.

The very next day, Friday, November 29th, most of us will be off work, but if you aren’t, or if your travels will have you downtown, meet us for Caroling at the Cloud Gate.  From 6pm until 7pm we’ll be serenaded by one of Chicago’s many fine choral singing groups.  Hymns, seasonal favorites, and traditional Christmas songs will lift us up and carry us right into the proper holiday spirit. Afterwards, we’ll sip cups of hot cocoa, make holiday plans, and stroll back to State Street. We’ll window shop, taking in the bright, animated displays in Macy’s windows, and the vibrant street decorations.

As long as we’re here, let’s head inside to the Walnut Room, where their Great Tree is on display. This tradition dates back to the opening of Marshall Field’s, in 1905, WOW! We can peruse the buffet menu, or just indulge in the equally traditional Mrs. Hering’s Chicken Pot Pie and French Onion Soup, then head home. Isn’t this a great way to really begin the Christmas holiday season?

Please join us on Sunday December 1st, for Lindiwe, a breath-taking new show at Steppenwolf Theatre.  This story travels “from Chicago’s Kingston Mines (blues club ed.) to South Africa and beyond, Lindiwe’s love story challenges us to define the boundaries between this world and the next, all the while exploring the sacrifices we make for love.” The legendary a capella group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, features strongly throughout, and is another reason to attend Steppenwolf, 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago, www.steppenwolf.org, and complete our “Year of Chicago Theater.”

Is it not amazing the way our adventures just roll into the next month without even trying?  Chicago has a way of doing that, my friends. See you next month!