The official user's manual for sunshine

Summer Strategy: Rooftop Rebellion

Fireworks, Memoirs & Miscellany, User's Guide to Summer No Comments »

We’re surprised by the sun every minute that we’re in it, on our Wolcott Avenue roof in Ukrainian Village. We’re shocked when we sweat so much that we have to take our sweaters off. There’s debris up here from previous tenants; discarded, dead and burned-out fireworks, partially empty beer cans—which we joke about throwing across the street to the Happy Village tavern—cigarettes unsmoked, and a very rusty chair.

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Finding the Festive: Limestone, Water and Fireworks at Promontory Point

Fireworks, Parks & the Great Outdoors No Comments »

When I first came to Chicago in 1994, I lived off Lake Shore Drive near Promontory Point in a charming, yet somewhat decrepit hotel that had been pressed into service to house the precocious youth in attendance at the University of Chicago. I was one of these youth and I was set on exploring the Point as soon as possible, if only as a safety valve from those who wanted to compare SAT scores endlessly and offer long-in-the-tooth panegyrics inspired by Plato’s Republic.

Created by the government largesse that was the Works Progress Administration, this pregnant outcropping of landfill buttressed by an array of limestone boulders is best experienced in summer. If you’re out in the early morning, you might encounter a clutch of yoga enthusiasts setting up shop, dog walkers leading their charges, along with cyclists and joggers, who are as ubiquitous as squirrels.

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Dissimilar Summers: You Know You’re Not In Kansas Anymore

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When the sounds of dinnertime are punctuated by motorcycle thunder and ambulance wails
As opposed to tornado sirens and trips to the basement with the family cat and radio

When the debate is whether to avert the murky swamp by switching on the air
Versus cranking it at all times to freeze out the blast furnace blowing

When a parade of happenings crowding a calendar with reminders
Makes the summer job “just for something to do” impossible Read the rest of this entry »

Testing the Waters: Kayak Chicago Fireworks Tour Offers a View From the River

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Photo: Shutterstock

Fireworks explode overhead as a small fleet of kayaks bobs at the mouth of the Chicago River watching the show. After a few minutes, the last of the fireworks fade away to the raucous cheers of onlookers. Most of the spectators simply power up their motorboats and putter home or continue their walks on the banks of the river. The tour group from Kayak Chicago still has a three-mile paddle back to the dock.

The Kayak Chicago Fireworks tour begins at 6:45pm with a brief tutorial conducted by two instructors. This trip, it’s Hina Iwate, a small, bubbly woman, and her laid-back co-worker Brian Westrick. Iwate starts off with some stretches, and then draws a laugh from the crowd of about fifteen kayakers when she appears to break into a dance. Read the rest of this entry »

Skyrockets in Flight: How Melrose Pyrotechnics blows up Chicago’s skies

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By Elaine Richardson

For most of us summer is—in theory, at least—a time for relaxation, contemplation and maybe even a little vacation. For the folks at Melrose Pyrotechnics, it’s like all the year’s holidays, quadrupled, and packed into the first week of July.

As one of the nation’s largest “display” companies, Melrose produces around 80 percent of its business—more than 800 fireworks shows—during July 4 week, handling everything from the city’s July 3 Lakefront extravaganza to WXRT’s Memorial Day show to smaller shows for more than thirty suburbs, including major shows for Naperville, Rockford, Joliet and Lisle. And that’s not to mention regular commitments to sporting teams, include the White Sox (with whom they’ve worked since the 1950s) and the NASCAR circuit. Read the rest of this entry »