Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kids Day America and Mayfest

The summer street fests are underway, and this weekend's Mayfest in Chicago's Lakeview area is starting off by featuring "Kids Day America" that your whole family can enjoy. From 10am - 1pm, before the regular Mayfest activities begin, you can bring the kids out for a fair that will be fun and will also educate and teach kids about health and safety.

Your family can enjoy free food, fun, face painting, balloons and prizes, and you can also take part in free health screenings and safety demonstrations. There's also a "Kids Day America Healthy Habit Contest" that your kids can enter.

After the family fest, your whole family can enjoy the rest of Mayfest with great food and live music going on all day.

On Sunday morning at Mayfest, it's the Mayfest Pet Parade. I checked this out last year, and it was was fun celebration with dogs everywhere! Pet owners and their pets took turns on the big stage, vying for titles such as "Best Looking," "Largest," "Owner Look-a-Like" and more. There's even a "Pet Trick" feature that your kids will love!

The festivities take place around the intersection of Ashland (1600W) and Barry (3100N).

Friday, May 14, 2010

Japanese Garden Children's Festival

This weekend, the Chicago Botanic Garden presents Japanese Garden Children's Festival, a unique festival that lets kids learn about children's celebrations in Japan. Activities run from 10am - 3pm each day, and families can listen to koto harp and shakuhachi flute music, enjoy traditional folktales, observe a karate demonstration, watch a tea ceremony and make special projects at hands-on stations.

The schedule:

10 a.m. – 3 p.m. — Family Activities
10:30 a.m. — Tea Ceremony Demonstration by Dr. Seiko Nakashima and Students of the Urasenke School
11:30 a.m. — Shakuhachi Flute Performance by Michael Chikuzen Gould
12:30 p.m. — Karate Demonstration by Karate Can Do Dojo
1:30 p.m. — Storytelling by Anne Shimojima
2:30 p.m. — Koto Harp Performance by the Chicago Koto Group

The Chicago Botanic Garden is a great place to introduce kids to the wonderful world if plants. My daughter Mia had her first experience there just a couple of weeks ago, and she had a great time checking out all the colorful flowers (she just turned 2) They offer lots of programs and events for kids (and adults!) of all ages.

Here's Mia enjoying the tulips:

Find more information online at

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hands on History - Civil War Days

While it's one thing for kids to read about history, it's another for them to enjoy a completely immersive experience where they can feel like they're living it. This weekend is Naper Settlement's annual Civil War Days, where visitors can watch more than 300 Civil War re-enactors act out a day from the past.

You'll get to see troops camping on site, and at 2:30pm a bugle will sound to wake them up and summon them to battle. Complete with rifles, cannons and even surgeons attending to the injured, it's an interactive history lesson that kids can't get in school.

The weekend fun also offers food, and shopping for Civil-War era reproduction products and books and merchandise.

The event runs from 10am - 4pm this Saturday and Sunday, and is $12 adults, $11 seniors and $8 for kids 4-17. Visit the web site for a full schedule of events,

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

New! Great Bear Wilderness at Brookfield Zoo

I have a real soft spot for Brookfield Zoo, as my very first full-time job was in the zoo's marketing department back in the early 90's. So I'm really excited to hear about a new exhibit opening up that will be the largest exhibit the zoo has ever had - Great Bear Wilderness!

The new exhibit opens to the public this weekend on May 8, and will offer visitors a "National Park-like experience," with exhibit space designed to replicate prairie, temperate forest and tundra landscapes. This naturalistic 7.5-acre habitat will feature iconic North American animals — polar bears, grizzly bears, Mexican gray wolves, bald eagles, bison, and a raven — and will teach guests about the animals’ past, present and future, their deep cultural significance, and the survival challenges they face.

There's a special opening day celebration being held this Saturday from 10am - 3:30pm, starting with a Native American blessing from members of the American Indian Center of Chicago. Then at 11am with be the grand entry with a procession of Native dancers in full regalia, followed by intertribal dancing.

Other special activities on opening day include:
11:35 to 11:50 a.m. - Native American flute music
Noon - 12:25 p.m. - Native American dancing and presentations
12:30 to 12:50 p.m. - Storytelling about bear families
1:00 to 1:25 p.m. - - Native American dancing and presentations
1:30 to 1:50 p.m. - Native American flute music
2:00 to 2:25 p.m. - - Native American dancing and presentations
2:30 to 2:50 p.m. - Storytelling about bear families

And all through the celebration, visitors can enjoy special appearances by polar bear, grizzly bear, Mexican gray wolf, bald eagle, and bison costume characters.

Find out more on Brookfield Zoo's web site at: