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VOL. 8 NO. 1

Got a story tip or question? Call (312) 690-3092

January 2020



Pedway art project brings bears out of hibernation

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Singers in Children’s Choir ‘have to be excellent’ Chair Yoga helps New Eastsiders embrace active lifestyle Page 2

Gino’s East adds vegan pizza to menu Page 4

Page 4 Pedway walkers check out Massimals in the Loop at the Daley Center. The art installation will be on display through winter. Photo by Eric Masi for Chicago Loop Alliance

Chicagoan ready for round two of roaring 20s

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Doorperson of the Month: Marek Sit

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Chicago restaurants showcase future of dining Page 7

Crash victim on mission for safer Michigan Avenue

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| NEWS |

How to Contact Us

200 E. Randolph St. Suite 5100 Chicago, IL 60601 (312) 690-3092 Editor: Elaine Hyde Managing Editor Stephanie Racine stephanieracine@ Staff Writers: Mat Cohen Jacqueline Covey Angela Gagnon Doug Rapp Elisa Shoenberger Copy Editors: Vivien Lee Bob Oswald Layout/Design: Bob Oswald Community Contributors: Jon Cohn

Eastside Enterprises LLC is the publisher of New Eastside News and Streeterville News. Eastside Enterprises has provided local community news to the Chicago area since 2012. New Eastside News and Streeterville News are monthly papers that use community writers and contributors. The views expressed by community contributors are their own. Eastside Enterprises does not take responsibility for third-party announcements or events. Eastside Enterprises is independently owned and operated. Published Jan. 1, 2020 Copyright ©2020. All rights reserved.

Chair Yoga helps New Eastsiders embrace an active lifestyle By Mat Cohen Staff Writer When people think of yoga, they often think of twisting, sweating and breathing in a 95-degree room. However, that’s not always the case. Chair Yoga is practiced around the neighborhood, including at Renaissance Court in the Chicago Cultural Center and a senior class at the Maggie Daley Park Fieldhouse. Peggy Figiel teaches the class at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at Renaissance Court. “Seeing people move into the pose and smile and say ‘I did it,’” she said, “that’s one of the best things.” Figiel began teaching yoga to seniors at a suburban park district 16 years ago. “I felt like (seniors) understood it better,” she said. “It wasn’t about twisting and sweating. It was about relaxing, going inside and finding your inner peace. It was more of an inner exercise.” There are benefits beyond calming your mind. In Chair Yoga, students do exercises sitting in a chair and standing beside it. They won’t be on their knees or lying on a mat. “Even doing chair yoga you are still going to improve your balance, your muscles, your bones and increase range of motion,” Figiel said. Fifteen women regularly attend the Chair Yoga class at Renaissance Court. Figiel makes the environment welcoming for participants of all abilities. “There are so many ways to

Peggy Figiel (right) leads a Chair Yoga class as Elvira Azarcon follows along at Renaissance Court. Photo by Mat Cohen

modify and they can still do yoga,” she said. “There are unmeasured benefits and I’m just here to guide them along.” Rose Lathan, who has been taking the class for four years, said the modifications are very helpful. “I also take a class at LA Fitness with the mat and I can’t do all the poses,” she said. “But here she shows me different ways I can do it and be successful. I always feel great after.” Another regular yogi, Elvira Azarcon, clearly feels the benefits of the class. “It’s really great,” she said. “I’ve been coming for a while and I can feel a difference with my flexibility and my joints.” Figiel also teaches classes in 400 E. Randolph, 360 E. Randolph and 340 E. Ran-

Rose Lathan and Elvira Azarcon follow along with Peggy Figiel during a Chair Yoga class at Renaissance Court in the Chicago Cultural Center.

dolph. She loves the New Eastside community and working with the people in the neighborhood. “Everyone is still very active,” she said. “You have to walk and you have to be mobile. People can’t run or ride their bike maybe as much as they

want to, but they can still get a workout doing yoga.” For more information about the Chair Yoga classes at Renaissance Court, visit chicago. gov and for information about the programs at Maggie Daley Fieldhouse visit



| NEWS |

Singers in Chicago Children’s Choir ‘have to be excellent’ By Jacqueline Covey Staff Writer The best young voices in Chicago perform with the Chicago Children’s Choir in storied locations like the grand glass-roofed third floor of the Chicago Cultural Center. Members of the Voice of Chicago choir, the Chicago Children’s Choir’s premier mixed-voice ensemble, have performed overseas and in front of international leaders, such as former South African President Nelson Mandela. The mantra for this elite group, instilled by Judy Hanson, senior associate artistic director with the Chicago Children’s Choir, is “the more excellent, the more magic.” “They have to be excellent,” Hanson said. At a recent holiday-themed performance of “We Are One” at the Chicago Cultural Center,

Judy Hanson, long-time music educator, directs the Voice of Chicago at an open rehearsal. Photo by Jacqueline Covey

students in leadership roles addressed the audience at an open rehearsal. “We connect to people through music,” said Isaiah Calaranan, a member of the choir. “We’re breaking down barriers and outside social constructs.” During performances, the reaction of the crowd gives immediate feedback to the performers. “I love seeing their faces light up,” Calaranan said. During the civil rights movement, the choir was

founded in Hyde Park to bring children of diverse backgrounds together. Hailing from Rodgers Park, Calaranan followed his brother’s footsteps throughout each level of the organization, starting when he was nine. “We have to be role models,” Calaranan said. “We are what (other groups) want to be. We are the end goal, but we keep inspiring and changing lives even after high school.”

| NEWS BRIEFS | City names 2020 ‘Year of Chicago Music’

support for local musicians and support for local neighborhoods and venues.

Throughout 2020, Chicago will be holding a celebration of Chicago music. Following the success of similar efforts for public art in 2017, creative youth in 2018 and theater in 2019, the year-long festival will celebrate Chicago’s rich music history. There are plans for a 17-day celebration starting Memorial Day weekend including the Chicago Gospel Music Festival, Chicago House Music Festival and Chicago Blues Festival. Other plans include grants to support the local music industry, professional

ReJuve comes to Block 37 For those traveling and working downtown in need of a quick respite, ReJuve Suites is now at Block 37. ReJuve Suites, also known as The Nap Lounge, offers small suites to nap, meditate or take a break from a busy day. “We believe everyone deserves some time to themselves,” said ReJuve Suites on its website. The smallest semi-private suite includes a bean bag chair, sleeping Continued on page 4


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| NEWS | NEWS BRIEFS Continued from page 3 mask and lavender-scented pillow for 30 minutes starting at $15. The largest private suite includes a Tempur-pedic mattress for 30 minutes and starts at $30. There are also options available for 60 minutes and 90 minutes. For more information, visit

Halal Guys reopens in New Eastside Art offering Massimals in the Loop line the Pedway. Photos by Eric Masi for Chicago Loop Alliance

Pedway art project brings bears out of hibernation By Stephanie Racine It’s hibernation season for bears—and humans. But a Pedway art installation may turn hibernation on its head. “Massimals in the Loop,” will be on display in the Pedway from Dec. 20 through the winter. The artwork depicts hibernating bears that vary in color and size as walkers travel through the Pedway. “The spirit of ‘Massimals in the Loop’ is to take this underutilized or underappreciated public space and invite people into it to experience it in a new and exciting way,” Chicago Loop Alliance Director of Planning Kalindi Parikh said. The Massimals will be in three sections of the Pedway—the hallway underneath Macy’s, the atrium of the Thompson Center and The Daley Center near the Starbucks. The best route proceeds from Macy’s traveling west to the Thompson

Artist Jason Scroggin with his Daley Center Massimals by Eric Masi for Chicago Loop Alliance

Center, according to Parikh, but viewers are encouraged to visit the installation at their own discretion. Chicago is a city famous for public art, and Parikh thinks the Pedway should be a part of that movement as well. “We want (the Pedway) to receive attention and appreciation so people see it as more than an underground route from A to B,” she said. The installation is designed by artist Jason Scrog-

gin and curated by Space p11, an art gallery in the Pedway at 55 E. Randolph. Scroggin wanted to create something that people could interact with. “I want people to hug architectural form,” he said. Scroggin believes the Pedway is an opportune location to showcase his work. “I think the Pedway is a great space for (the bears) to hibernate and bring a little color and playfulness to people moving through the underground spaces during the colder months in Chicago,” he said. “It’s a reaction to the Pedway in general,” Parikh said. “The combination of the natural aspect of the bears and the man-made Pedway sparks a conversation.” Leave hibernating to bears and explore the Pedway and “Massimals” this winter. For more information, visit, and

After a dramatic closing of its Chicago locations, Halal Guys has reopened in New Eastside at 172 N. Wabash. Halal Guys, a famous New York gyros chain, came to Chicago with great fanfare in 2015, with lines around the block at its first Chicago location in Gold Coast. In July 2019, due to a dispute between franchise managers and the Halal Guys owners, the Chicago locations were shut down. Halal Guys has reopened its doors on Wabash under new management. For more information, visit

Nick Cave art comes to St. Jane Hotel Singer-songwriter Nick Cave has designed a new art piece for the St. Jane Hotel, 230 N. Michigan Ave. “Hustle Coat” comes from Cave’s childhood memories and is a part of a series. The piece references street salesmen, with cascading jewelry, watches and chains adorning a trench coat. The coat is held by two fingers, which are casts of Cave’s hands. The collage situated behind the coat is the result of a partnership with Cave’s creative partner Bob Faust.

Gino’s East adds vegan pizza to menu Gino’s East now offers a vegan deep dish and thin crust pizza at its downtown Chicago locations. It’s dairy, egg, soy, nut, and gluten free. The vegan cheese is made from potato starch, pea protein and coconut oil. The new vegan offering will eventually be rolled out to other U.S. locations. Offering vegan options is part

Vegan thin crust will be offered at Gino’s East. Photo courtesy of Gino’s East

of a larger trend over the past few years. Grandview Research notes that the global vegan food market was worth $12.7 billion in 2018 and is projected to grow over the next few years.

Langham Hotel wins gold as top hotel Langham Hotel in Chicago makes Conde Nast’s annual Gold List of top hotels and resorts around the world for 2020. The review says that going to the Langham is “to step into the story the building tells about the American city. You feel like you could be a character in a spy thriller as you pass through the note-perfect midcentury lobby and take the elevator to the elegant second-floor reception area.” Earlier this year, Conde Nast named Chicago as “Best Big City” for the third year in a row.

New 46-story apartment building planned for Millennium Park CA Ventures plans to build a 46-story apartment building at 222 N. Stetson Ave. However, the developer will have to eliminate subway rights for a train line the city never built. The new housing development would also include retail and Pedway space. Construction is expected to begin next year. In the 1960s, plans were made for the Monroe Street Distributor Subway but there were multiple delays and financing problems. Part of the plan led to the construction of the Franklin Street subway but the Monroe portion was postponed and ultimately abandoned in 1979.




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Doorperson of the Month Marek Sit, 400 E. Randolph By Mat Cohen Staff Writer It’s been a long journey for Doorperson Marek Sit to get to 400 E. Randolph. Actually, about 4,500 miles. Sit was born in Poland. In 1981, at 24 years old, he followed his mother to New York City, and then to Chicago. “First I wanted to go to Canada, but I decided to go to Chicago instead and find a job,” Sit said. “I caught another plane from NYC and came to Chicago and I was in such a shock.” Since starting a new life in the U.S., Sit has worked hard and earned respect, which is why he’s been named Doorperson of the Month. Sit worked at a condo building on the Northside for 14 years before interviewing for the building in the New Eastside. “They closed the doorman position (at my old building), and this was so devastating for me and my coworkers,” he said. “But (400 E. Randolph) called me

for the interview and that’s how everything started. They fortunately hired me and fortunately I have had the job for this long. The building is very busy, it’s very nice.” After nearly 23 years at the job, Sit is still putting in extra hours to help in the package room with the Christmas rush. He’s seen a lot of change as the community and residents are getting younger. “From the basement to the roof, everything is brand new,” he said. “But I’m glad I’ve been here to witness the change.” He’s seen a lot of older residents move on or decide to live in nursing homes. “It’s not easy but this is the life,” he said. “Life goes on and you have to witness this, even though I don’t like it when they go.” When he’s not working, he spends time with family, fishing with his brother in Michigan and relaxing on their boat. Getting to know people is also important to Sit, who loves to wish kids a great day as they’re leaving for school in

Marek Sit, at 400 E. Randolph, has been named the New Eastside News Doorperson of the Month. Photo by Mat Cohen

the morning. “There are sometimes residents, or taxi drivers, and they know me from my old building. It’s been a long time and they recognize me and I recognize them.” he said.

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email with their name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.

A cookie on a milkshake: JoJo’s Milk Bar to expand By Stephanie Racine When it’s hard to decide between desserts, JoJo’s can save the day. Have your cookie and eat it too—on top of a delicious milkshake. JoJo’s Milk Bar, which has been making waves in the dessert bar scene with intricate and decadent offerings, opened in River North in February 2019 and recently expanded to a milkshake kiosk in Streeterville. JoJo’s Shake Bar is on the second floor Mezzanine of Water Tower Place, near kid-friendly shops such as American Girl, The LEGO Store and The Art Of Dr. Seuss.

Salted Caramel BIGGIE To Go Hot Chocolate

Unicorn Shake Photos courtesy of JoJo’s Milk Bar

JoJo’s will be partnering with Unicorn World By Lola + The Boys, another nearby kids store,

to offer The Unicorn Shake, a blueberry cherry shake, topped with items like cotton candy, a

sprinkle-dipped cone and candy Do Do’s. Co-founder Robbie Schloss is excited to bring JoJo’s to Water Tower and hopes customers will take part in the “grander-thanlife” experience. The “enhanced retro diner” was inspired by Schloss’s childhood and named for his daughter. Unlike its River North location, which serves food and alcohol, JoJo’s Shake Bar focuses on sweeter fare. Menu items include the Chocolate Nirvana, a shake with oreos, and the BIGGIE Salted Caramel hot chocolate. The site offers infused milks and assorted freshly baked cookies—

if you prefer them separate from the milkshake. JoJo’s Milk Bar in River North is also adding some new options. “JoJo’s will also embark on a new partnership with Chicago-based manufacturer of organic Cannabidiol (CBD) and CBD products, Half Day CBD, for adult diners interested in adding CBD oil or gummies to milkshakes, cocktails, hot chocolate drinks and floats,” according to a news release. JoJo’s Shake Bar is open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit

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| NEWS |

Gluten free eats offered in the neighborhood By Angela Gagnon Staff Writer


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Maintaining a gluten free lifestyle is challenging, and especially important for those with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition where ingestion of gluten leads to damage of the small intestine. Two community members living with celiac disease shared tips on how to eat gluten free in the neighborhood for those looking to revamp their diets in 2020. “I ask a lot of questions,” said Abigail Manville, who works in the New Eastside and was diagnosed celiac as a teenager. “I rely on the waitstaff and kitchen staff when dining out. I’ll call ahead and ask if they can accommodate me, and I avoid busy meal times so the chef can come out and talk to me.” New Eastside resident Alexis Jones is also living with celiac disease. “There is a lot of good (gluten-free) food out there. You just have to find it,” Jones said. “But being able to eat at restaurants and be part of the social scene is important, so I’ll talk to the chef and see if they can customize the menu or create something that works for me.” “So much of our socialization is built around food,” Manville said, “so going gluten free can have a big impact on that.” Jones said it’s hard to

Abigail Manville enjoys a freshly baked gluten free donut from Do Rite Donuts in the Loop. Photo by Angela Gagnon

share meals when eating out unless everyone agrees to go gluten free. Chicago’s downtown area has some options for those who can’t tolerate gluten. Whether avoiding gluten is a preference or an allergy, it’s possible to navigate the vast culinary landscape in downtown Chicago to meet your dietary needs. “Brown Bag Seafood, 340 E. Randolph St., has food that is simple in terms of ingredients,” Manville said. They also label their gluten free menu options on their website. Jones said Brown Bag has a good gluten free clam chowder, which is hard to find. Eggy’s Diner, 333 E. Benton Place, offers gluten free waffles and pancakes. “I can go there for breakfast or dinner food,” Jones said. Wildberry Cafe, 130 E. Randolph St., has a variety of gluten-free breakfast and lunch items, labeled “GF” to make it easier to order. Jones and Manville also recommend Do-Rite Do-

nuts, 50 W. Randolph St., for a sweet treat because they offer several gluten free varieties, prepared using separate equipment from the regular donuts. This is important for reducing cross contamination. Brightwok Kitchen in the Loop, 21 E. Adams St., “is an awesome dedicated gluten free build your own stir fry place,” Manville said. “And if I want a fancier meal when my family is in town, we will go to The Berghoff.” The German restaurant, 17 W. Adams St., has extreme handling procedures to make the gluten free dishes celiac-friendly. Mariano’s grocery store, 333 E. Benton Place, has hundreds of gluten free products, which can make shopping for groceries a little easier. “I’ve learned to make everything from scratch,” Jones said, “so shopping for gluten free ingredients is important. “Living in the city makes life easier for me. If I can eat at 10% of the places, that’s still a lot of options.”



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| NEWS |

Chicago restaurants showcase future of dining By Doug Rapp Staff Writer Self-ordering kiosks with food appearing in a cubby minutes later. Robots working as concierges and assisting restaurant servers. All of these are happening in Chicago in what might be a version of dining in the future. Hotel EMC2, which bills itself as “at the intersection of art and science,” has added two robot concierges. Named Leo and Cleo, the robots deliver amenities for guests who book the Bot Experience Package through March 2020, according to website Travel Pulse. The X Pot, a Chinese hot pot restaurant, plans to use robots at its South Loop location opening this summer, according to the Chicago Tribune. Owner David Zhao told the Tribune the robots will move around similarly to Roombas, delivering food to tables and taking away empty dishes. Wow Bao, a fast Asian street food eatery,

has two fully automated locations, plus a semi-automated one in Streeterville. At the 200 N. Michigan Ave. spot, customers order from a kiosk and their food is placed in a cubby, limiting human interaction. “It makes the ordering process a lot faster and more accurate because you’re entering your own order,” said Christine Reznicek, Wow Bao’s marketing manager. The restaurant usually has two to three employees preparing the food, according to Reznicek, and a concierge up front during peak times to assist customers. Reznicek said it’s a feature the company wants to move forward with. “We like the excitement that it encourages,” she said. “It definitely is a draw for traffic coming in.” The reception has been almost uniformly positive, Reznicek said. “It’s been great. Once everyone gets used to the order flow, they like it. We’re pretty big with tourists. They hear about it and want to

At Wow Bao, 200 N, Michigan Ave., customers order from a kiosk.

come check out the animations.” She was referring to the dancing bitmojis that traipse across the cubbies’ thin screens at the 200 N. Michigan location. KDM Engineering employee Mani Appalamcen, who was picking up lunch, said he “loves” the vegan options at Wow Bao. “I like the way your order appears on the monitor and then in the cubby,” he said. “That’s cool and it’s convenient.” Cleanna Smith, a supervisor at the 200 N. Michigan location, said the technology rarely

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A customer at Wow Bao reaches for drinks inside the cubby. Photos by Mat Cohen

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Realistic resolutions: Keep ‘new year, new you’ working Gym managers say setting smaller goals along the way helps By Mat Cohen Staff Writer You’re not alone. According to Strava, a social network for athletes, most people don’t keep their New Year’s resolutions past Jan. 12. That’s when, just nearly two weeks after the start of the year, lack of motivation creeps out like a monster from under the bed. Roughly 55 percent of resolutions are health-related, according to The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, so how can we avoid biting off more than we

can chew in early January? Head trainer Kelsey Slotter from Planet Fitness at 240 E. Illinois St. has some ideas. Slotter says finding other people with like-minded goals can keep people motivated. “We offer free fitness training that is included with all our memberships,” she said. “Utilize group training classes to provide the encouragement, energy and motivation you need to reach your goals during the holidays.” Lakeshore Sport & Fitness assistant general manager Luis

Planet Fitness lead trainer Kelsey Slotter has some advice for taking on your New Year’s resolutions. Photo courtesy of Planet Fitness

Davila says having a solid foundation to grow upon and utilizing a fitness assessment the gym includes for new members, is important for hitting goals. “It’s important for people to

understand resources when setting fitness goals,” said Davila who explained that setting smaller goals can help along the way. “One thing might not be the answer for the full year and you might need to change it up,” he said. “I think that’s critical to understand when people are setting their goal.” Slotter believes enjoying small victories on the path to reaching a bigger goal is as important as celebrating the final accomplishment. Planet Fitness has a pizza party planned for January to keep the pressures of a resolution at bay. “Ten minutes on the treadmill can lift your mood and help you get through the day,” Slotter said. “Schedules this time of year may

not allow for a longer workout, which is okay, but just hit the gym when you can.” For those with kids, Davila, a father, says the family membership at LSF which includes free childcare and a family play space is great for him. “It’s hard for me to even come in and work out in the mornings,” he said. “Having that option during group classes, during your regular routine, that is an absolutely huge help as far as breaking a barrier to entry and a commitment to year-long fitness goals.” Both locations offer new year promotions on membership. For more information visit lakeshoresf. com and

Beating the Blue Monday blues By Doug Rapp Staff Writer

Chicagoans brave the cold through dark January days and past Blue Monday, a name given to what some think is the most depressing day of the year. Photo by Mat Cohen

After a white Christmas, there may be a Blue Monday. Blue Monday is the name given to what some consider the most depressing day of the year—usually the third Monday in January. The idea originated with a Welsh academic as a marketing plan for a travel company, according to the British newspaper Telegraph. A formula involving debt, time past since Christmas, winter weather and failed New Year’s resolutions add up to the infamous day in January. A Northwestern Medi-

cine psychologist believes Blue Monday is a myth. “There are so many other factors that contribute to depression,” said Dr. Stewart Shankman, chief of psychology in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. “I don’t think there’s a certain day of the year that’s the most depressing day.” Shankman allowed that even without Blue Monday, January may be the most depressing month of the year. “What’s interesting is seasonal affective disorder (SAD, a seasonal type of depression), the onset of that actually tends to be in the beginning of winter,

more like October or November,” he said. “As the weather starts to get worse, that’s when you see the onset of SAD. It might hit its peak in January.” Joyce Marter, a licensed psychotherapist who founded the multi-location counseling practice Urban Balance, agreed. “More of the population is impacted by SAD in Chicago, due to the cold and gray weather during the winter months,” she said. “Poor weather can worsen any underlying mental health issue, such as anxiety and depression, and decrease motivation.” Chicago’s brutal winters Continued on page 10



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Chicagoan ready for round two of roaring 20s By Mat Cohen Staff Writer The 1920s was a decade unfamiliar to most. But Wanda Bridgeforth remembers it well. Bridgeforth saw the Great Depression, World War II and lived in Chicago when the tallest building was eight stories high. As the year 2020 begins, she’s ready to welcome the changes that a second shot at the ‘20s will bring. Bridgeforth, 98, takes a writing class at the Chicago Cultural Center but has more stories to tell that aren’t on paper. “My life has been different than average,” she said. “But I’m still a kid at heart.” Bridgeforth grew up in Bronzeville and has lived in Princeton Park, the Loop and now Hyde Park for the past 16 years. As a kid in the 1920s, Wanda’s family visited downtown Chicago once a year to see the Christmas decorations. “We got dressed up to come downtown with gloves and hats,” she said. “Once a year we came down to Marshall Field’s to see the tree. Then we went up to the eighth floor to look down on it.”

Wanda Bridgeforth, 98, alongside Beth Finke who leads a writing class at the Chicago Cultural Center that Bridgeforth attends. Photo courtesy of StoryCorps

She said although the Christmas setup is still the same, most things have changed drastically. “Downtown is so different than what it was,” she said. “The department stores, the theaters, all the high-rises. Sometimes I just have to suck in my breath and go with the flow. Everything is moving so fast these days with all of this technology. It’s just amazing to me.”

As a kid, she saw neighbors stick together through thick and thin. “The Depression came when I was about six or seven,” she said. “That’s when everybody’s life turned upside down. We had a closeness and a strong community spirit that we don’t have now.” This tightness helped during World War II when her husband was stationed overseas. “When he went overseas it was 56 days from Chicago to India,” she said. “I didn’t know he was in India, I just knew he was away from home.” Beth Finke, who leads the writing class, has grown close to Bridgeforth. “(Wanda) is profoundly deaf and I am totally blind,” she said. “Maybe we connect because both of us acknowledge our disabilities without letting it define us. We both are resourceful and have to figure out ways to do certain things that others do with their ears and eyes.” Bridgeforth said there was another reason she was drawn to Finke. “We clicked immediately,” she said. “Primarily through (Finke’s guide) dog because I love animals.”

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Blue Monday Continued from page 8

Megan Masako Haley (Gretchen Wieners) (from left), Mariah Rose Faith (Regina George), Jonalyn Saxer (Karen Smith) and Danielle Wade (Cady Heron) star in the National Touring Company of Mean Girls. Photo courtesy of Joan Marcus

Mean Girls musical teaches important life lessons By Elisa Shoenberger Staff Writer While many people will be snapping their fingers to the music while leaving Mean Girls, they will also be taking away some life lessons. “It’s very clear that (though) it is a comedy that there are dire repercussions to being mean—to being a bad person,” said Danielle Wade, principal actor playing the lead role of Cady Heron. Wade appreciates that Cady Heron “starts out one way and goes through all these emotions that we have felt and dealt with in high school or post high school. She faces repercussions for actions too and I think that’s really important.” The Mean Girls musical is based on the 2004 movie by Tina Fey. It’s the story of

Cady Heron who grew up in Africa and finds herself in the world of high school cliques in the suburbs. She becomes part of the Plastics, a popular trio of girls led by Regina George, and faces some tough challenges arising from her decisions. The musical has something to offer for everybody. “There is a character within the show that everyone can relate to—or parts of each character that everyone can relate to,” Wade said. She’s met many people at the stage door that have told her that they saw themselves in various characters. When Wade was on Broadway, a woman told her she realized that she was Regina in high school and needed to go make an apology phone call to her high school friend. “On the inside, I was like ‘Regina is very scary, that’s scary to me.’ That was

cool that she recognized that and felt she needed to say something,” Wade said. Mean Girls helps people better understand issues of cliques and bullying. “I think it’s given people language to talk about this problem. When 12 to 13 year old girls refer to ‘Mean Girls,’ we know what they are talking about,” child therapist and president of Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute Erika Schmidt said. Wade hopes that people will take something away from the show. “The show is goofy and it’s rooted in humor, but it’s really truthful. As much as we joke and are dressed head to toe in pink outfits, it’s an important message for people to hear,” she said. Mean Girls runs through Jan. 26 at the James M. Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph, and will tour across the U.S. throughout 2020.

limit social and physical activity while possibly raising fattening food intake, according to Heloisa G. R. Roach, a psychotherapist at Urban Balance’s South Michigan Avenue location. “In January, we might also experience stressors of post-holiday financial concerns and seasonal unemployment (which) intensify these feelings,” Roach said. Several mental health professionals said even if Blue Monday isn’t an actual phenomenon, they do see more patients in the first month of the year. “January does tend to be a busy time for therapists,” said Alicia Hoffman, a licensed clinical professional counselor with a private practice in New Eastside. “A lot of people put off starting therapy during the holidays and understandably wait until after. Some people are coming to fulfill a New Years resolution, and some people come because they had to spend a lot of time with family which can be triggering and high stress.” There are several ways to fight winter depression according to healthcare providers. Light exposure is essential, through limited sunlight or a sun lamp. A healthy diet with plenty of Vitamin D , while avoiding excessive alcohol use, can help. Maintaining physical activity, whether indoors or outdoors, is important, along with keeping social contact with friends and family and avoiding too much “hibernation” and screen time. Marter added that cultivating a positive, grateful attitude is also beneficial, and, if possible, arrange a trip somewhere warm between January and April. She said research indicates the anticipation of a vacation could be more helpful than the trip itself. If none of these lift your spirits, professionals said it may be time to seek help. Roach said if you experience a significant loss of energy in the winter, it’s worth consulting a mental health professional to see if you’re experiencing a seasonal episode of depression. Shankman said anyone can have sad moods, but if it impairs your work or family life, seek treatment.



N E W S / S T R E E T E R V I L L E


JANUARY 2020 / 11

| NEWS |

Crash victim on mission for safer Michigan Avenue By Mat Cohen Staff Writer On Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 10 a.m., Phyllis Mitzen walked with a cane along E. Delaware Place and across Michigan Avenue along with her husband, Michael. She’s on a mission to make crosswalks safer. Six months ago at this crossing, Mitzen was knocked to the ground by a van which rolled on her leg. She spent 15 hours in surgery, 10 days in the hospital and three months in rehabilitation. On Dec. 16 she walked with a cane to the corner of Michigan and Delaware, meeting with 20 people and Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) official Samadi Malihe, to initiate a discussion about making the area safer. One of the women supporting the conversation was Janice Lewis. Her son was involved in an accident 10 years ago in Montgomery, Mich. When Lewis went to the hospital she didn’t recognize him.

He died Jan. 4, 2010. “It changes lives,” she said. “So anything we can do, let’s do it.” Since 2012 there has been an average of approximately 75 pedestrian deaths each year in Chicago, according to CDOT. The crossings along the Magnificent Mile between Oak Street and Chicago Avenue make the strip the third highest area for fatalities. One of the main changes Mitzen is asking for is extended traffic lights to give slower walkers a chance to cross. The group highlighted that slower people, mainly young kids and the elderly, have to start walking as soon as the light changes to have enough time to cross. But with busier intersections, cars try to get through the lights as late as they can, delaying pedestrians from crossing. Mitzen serves as the president of Skyline Village Chicago and is a member of the Mayor’s Commission for Age Friendly Chicago. She’s also planning, along with State Representatives, a town hall meeting

Phyllis Mitzen and her husband Michael talk with a CDOT official about making the crosswalks along Michigan Avenue safer for pedestrians. Photo by Mat Cohen

in February at Ogden Elementary School to focus on pedestrian safety. “I think they certainly heard what we had to say,” she said. “And having (Alderman Brian Hopkins) come certainly helped. We’re following up with a town hall meeting at the Ogden School and two state Reps. will come. We’ll ask for updates there.”

She will also be asking for updates on the plan for Vision Zero, a strategy to eliminate traffic fatalities. “It’s a worldwide initiative for an age friendly city,” Mitzen said. “Chicago is signed on and it’s not clear where they are with the plan.” For more information on Vision Zero, visit

Local charities left short-handed after season of giving By Jacqueline Covey Staff Writer The Chicago Help Initiative gives free meals to guests who are in need. During the holidays, there is no shortage of volunteers, but post giving-season, this organization, like many non-profits in the area, becomes short-handed. Executive Director of Chicago Help Initiative Doug Fraser sees an increase in volunteerism around Christmas each year, but he said that’s not when it’s needed. Between now and February, he’s calling on Christmas-time aides to re-sign up with the organi-

zation. New volunteers are always welcome, too. Every Wednesday, volunteers provide sit-down dinners to 130 guests and 70 take out meals as part of the Chicago Help Initiative free meals program. The idea is that providing a dignified experience fulfills a sense of place for participants. Before dinner, some guests take advantage of classes in technology, creative writing and art facilitated by Catholic Charities at their community center located at 721 N. LaSalle St. “We are all a community, we all have each other,” said Sandra Dillion, a student in the knitting group. “We

Catholic Charities is home to the Chicago Help Initiative’s Wednesday free meals. Photo by Jacqueline Covey

share our ideas and our thoughts. If we get stuck, we are here to help each other out.” The first dinner was in 2001 when Catholic Charities opened their space for a weekly gathering with food donated from local restaurants. A speaker

mini-series was added, then social and health services were brought in and over the years relationships have been built between long time volunteers and guests. “We have volunteers of all ages and backgrounds, some of whom have been

coming for years,” said Brigid Murphy of Catholic Charities. “There are lovely relationships that have developed among volunteers and supper guests.” The organization has created a space built on respect where social stigmas are broken down. For a couple hours, guests can enjoy the simple joy of having a warm meal in a warm place with friends. “What we’ve learned is that if you treat a homeless person with respect… we can get them off the streets,” founder and president Jacqueline Hayes said. “Efforts to help are good, but we fill them up with

such good feelings about themselves.” As a Chicago real estate broker specializing in retail leasing along the Magnificent Mile and Oak Street, Hayes sought ways to help the homeless population that congregated at storefronts. Now, 20 years after the group began, the organization is still growing largely as a result of a robust volunteer community. For more information or to volunteer, contact the Chicago Help Initiative, 440 N Wells St., Suite 440, Chicago, (312) 448-0045 or visit

12 / JANUARY 2020



Thinking of becoming a landlord? New laws add complexity to going at it alone By Urban Real Estate This past November, the Cook County Board of Commissioners adopted a set of rules, the Just Housing Amendment, which went into effect Dec. 31. Essentially, the tenant screening process is two-steps: The assessment of the tenant’s ability to pay and their criminal background check. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the ordinance will open the door to people with criminal records who The Cook County Board of Commissioners recently apply for housing. adopted the Just Housing Amendment, in which the tenant screening process is two-steps. The board voted 12-4 to approve the new rule, which Laws change regularly, as do penis an amendment to the county’s existalties. Reminders of this come from ing housing ordinance. “Now, apartment owners will not be the Chicago Residential Landlord able to consider criminal backgrounds Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) which not only prescribes what the penalty for of applicants until after they already not paying a tenant interest annually have qualified through a credit check on a security deposit held is (and how or other screening,” TheRealDeal. it legally should be secured) but also com reports. The new effort does not what the interest rate is, and when it apply to sex offenders, who still can should be paid out. be rejected. “Being a landlord in the city of Chi“Renting out a home requires a procago has its benefits, but the ultimate spective landlord to abide by federal, value comes in retaining the services state and local laws, often which they of a real estate broker to manage a are not familiar with,” said Michael process that can be tedious, cumEmery, senior partner and broker with bersome, and ultimately have legal New Eastside real estate brokerage and financial ramifications if handled Urban Real Estate. “Fair housing laws poorly,” Emery said. serve as reminders and requirements that everyone be treated equally. The Contact Urban Real Estate at Urbancost of not doing so can be or call (312) 528-9200 strophic to the average homeowner to help prepare for an upcoming trying to go at it alone and save a brokerage fee, rather than have a pro- rental, or help evaluate your current leasing situation. fessional manage the process.”





JANUARY 2020 / 13

| NEW EASTSIDE EVENTS | Schedules are subject to change. Call venues to confirm event information. To submit events or advertise on this page, email

Ongoing Sundays

Sunday Football at Commons Club The Virgin Hotel offers a weekly Sunday event to watch football and cheer on your favorite team. Discounted snacks and cocktails will be available during the event. Commons Club serves American fare. RSVP recommended, 4-10 p.m., free, Virgin Hotel, 203 N. Wabash Ave., Second Floor, (312) 940-4400,

features fun toy experiences across eight rooms. Enjoy favorite toy box-themed rooms with familiar friends like Paw Patrol and Melissa and Doug. 10 a.m.8:30 p.m. 11 a.m. on Saturdays, $28 for adults, $20 for kids 4-12, kids under 4 are free, Toys “R” Us Adventure Chicago, 830 N. Michigan Ave.,

Jan. 4, 11, 18, 25

Pedway Tour Tour the Pedway and learn all of its secrets. The Pedway is an underground pedestrian system in Chicago that many are unfamiliar with. Learn secret entrances and connections and see famous Pedway locations—one was even featured in a Batman movie. 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m., $22.95, meet at the Fairmont Hotel, 200 N. Columbus, (773) 593-4873,

Jan. 5-Feb. 1

Stranger Than Fiction A documentary film festival. Eight new documentaries will debut, hailing from a variety of nations and perspectives. Some directors will appear and give talks on their works, including closing director Jack C. Newell, who will discuss his film “42 Grams.” Times vary, prices vary, Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St, (312) 846-2800,

Through Jan. 12

Winter WonderFest Festival Hall at Navy Pier becomes an indoor winter wonderland. Enjoy the indoor playground featuring an ice rink, carnival rides, and holiday-themed activities. Fun photo ops with a giant rocking horse or a sleigh will be available. Opens 10 a.m. every day, prices vary, Navy Pier Festival Hall, 600 E. Grand Ave., (312) 595-7437, navypier. org/winter-wonderfest

Through Jan. 26

Toys ’R Us Adventure Taking over the old Top Shop building in a pop-up, the classic kids store

Mean Girls comes to the Nederlander Theater. Photo by Aneesah Muhammad

Mean Girls the Musical The popular movie turned Broadway musical comes to Chicago’s Nederlander Theatre. Cady Heron, who grew up in Africa, has to deal with a new jungle—a suburban Illinois High School. The production is recommended for those over 10. Times vary, tickets start at $33, Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St., (312) 977-1700,

Jan. 24-Feb. 9

Chicago Restaurant Week 400 restaurants will participate in Chicago Restaurant Week this year. Special prix fixe menus will be offered at these restaurants in affordable price ranges. Reservations are not required to participate in Restaurant Week, but they are recommended. Times vary, $24 for lunch or brunch, $36 or $48 for dinner, locations vary, chicago-restaurant-week

Jan. 25-Feb. 16

Wake Up, Brother Bear An interactive show for kids ages 0-6. The story follows two loveable bears through the four seasons. There will be pre and post show activities in the lobby for the little ones including music and

interactive movements, with butterflies and waterfalls to see. Saturdays and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., $22-$32, Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, 100 S. Racine Ave., (312) 374-8835,

Jan. 2

CAPS Meeting CAPS meetings begin again for 2020. Meet with police representatives that cover the community beat. Raise new issues of concern, or find out how the police and Alderman’s office have responded to previous problems. This is a monthly event. 6:30 p.m., free, 400 E. Randolph, (312) 745-4290, home.

Jan. 9

Picture This One of the Art Institute’s family-friendly events for children and caregivers. Enjoy a picture book based on, or that incorporates, one of the works of art housed in the Art Institute. The program is recommended for children 3 and under. 11-11:30 a.m., free with museum admission, meet in Griffin Court, The Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., (312) 443-3600, Lakeshore East Book Club All are welcome to join the Lakeshore East Book Club. They meet the 2nd Tuesday of every month in the Tides Party Room. This month, the selected reading is “The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert, which was the One Book, One Chicago selection for 2019. 6-7:30 p.m., free, The Tides, 360 E. South Water St.

Jan. 10

“Suicide: The Aftermath” with Fr. Charlie Rubey Fr. Charlie Rubey, the founder and director of Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide (LOSS), speaks on his work with the organization and on the delicate subject of suicide. Lunch will be provided with ticket price. Dress code is business attire for women and

January races F^3 Lake Half Marathon 13.1, 5K, 10 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, Soldier Field Aon Step up for the Kids stair climb, 8 a.m., Sunday, Jan. 26, Aon Center collared shirts for men. No denim. Noon-1:15 p.m., tickets start at $55 for nonmembers, Union League Club, 65 W. Jackson Blvd., Presidents Hall, second floor, (312) 466-9610,

Jan. 11

Girls Build! Day A STEM-centered event for girls ages 11-17. Girls will have the opportunity to meet with industry leaders, plus learn and build with them. Although drop-ins are allowed, participation in the whole day is recommended due to the schedule of events. 10 a.m.-1 p.m., $8 for adult chaperones, free for students 11-17, Chicago Architecture Center, 111 E. Wacker Dr., register by calling (312) 922-8687, Chicago Ale Festival More than 100 craft beers will be available at this winter beer event. Food trucks like Beaver’s Donuts will be on scene for snacking. Enjoy games, yoga and a DJ spinning tunes. This event is for adults 21 and up only. 3-7 p.m., $50, Navy Pier Aon Grand Ballroom, 600 E. Grand Ave.,

Jan. 11-12

Trolls Live! Come see Poppy, Branch and all the other Trolls in a fun live tour event. Trolls’ Hug Time is in danger, but the Trolls always know what to do. Children over the age of 1 are required to have their own ticket. 10:30 a.m., 2 p.m., 5:30 p.m., tickets start at $29, The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., (312) 462-6300, Events continue on page 14

14 / JANUARY 2020




| NEW EASTSIDE EVENTS | Schedules are subject to change. Call venues to confirm event information. To submit events or advertise on this page, email

Jan. 13

The Creative Spirit The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center comes to the Harris Theater in its second of three performances. The Creative Spirit features works by Debussy, Suk, Janácek and Brahms on strings and piano. Musicians include Danbi Um on violin and Juho Pohjonen on piano. 7:30 p.m., tickets start at $30, The Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph Dr., (312) 3347777,

Jan. 14

My America: Susan Muaddi Darraj In conjunction with the “My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers today” series at The American Writers Museum. Darraj will speak about her latest works including her short story collection “A Curious Land: Stories from Home” and her upcoming children’s book series “Farah Rocks.” 6:30 p.m., $12, American Writers Museum, Readers Hall, 180 N. Michigan Ave., 2nd floor, (312) 374-8790,

Jan. 15

Sommelier for a Day: Italy A wine-tasting event hosted by III Forks and their sommelier Anton Licko. Focusing on wines of Italy, the event will also include hors d’oeuvres. Six different wines will be tasted, including some Tuscan selections. RSVP is required. 5-7 p.m., $25, III Forks, 180 N. Field Blvd., (312) 938-4303,

Jan. 17

Juicebox Children’s Series: Suzi Shelton Suzi Shelton is an award-winning singer-songwriter whose newest collection of songs, “Hand in Hand,” focuses on teaching kids about spreading hope and love. Shelton’s songs also feature ladybugs, fish and raindrops. An interactive performance that encourages kids to sing and dance. 11-11:45 a.m., free, Chicago Cultural Center, Preston Bradley Hall, 78 E. Washington St., (312) 7446630,

Jan. 17-18

Cubs Convention The annual Cubs convention will include current and past players, coaches and more. Get autographs, attend meetand-greets, see panels and participate in activities and experiences. Packages bundled with hotel stays are available. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Sunday, one-day passes start at $40, Sheraton Grand, 301 E. North Water,

Jan. 18

2020 Sneaker Fashion Gala This fourth annual fashion event is all about sneakers. A portion of the ticket proceeds will go to War International, an anti-human trafficking organization. Shop from vendors and enjoy the cash bar available. There will also be a silent auction and a presentation on human trafficking. 7-10 p.m., general admission tickets $45, Loft on Lake, 1366 W. Lake St.,

Jan. 20 Martin Luther King Day

Free Museum Day Free admission to several Chicago-area museums is offered on Martin Luther King Day, if you have a valid Illinois ID. Both the Art Institute and the Chicago History Museum will have MLK-centered events. Other participating museums include the Planetarium and the Shedd Aquarium. Times vary, free, locations vary.

Jan. 23

First Bites Bash The official launch event of Chicago Restaurant Week 2020. 60 chefs will be in attendance showcasing their celebrated items to be tasted. Host chef Thai Dang and mixologist Danielle Dang hail from HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen. 6-9 p.m., general admission tickets $125, Field Museum, 1400 S. Lakeshore Dr.,

Jan. 24-25

White Sox Festival The 28th annual event heads to McCormick Place this year for more space and

Steve Winter in the field, Brazil by Steve Winter

more activities. Meet your favorite Sox player, management or coach. Additional special guests to be announced closer to the event. Event sponsored by Beggars Pizza. Friday 4-10 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m., one-day passes start at $50, McCormick Place West, 2301 S. Indiana Ave., (312) 674-1000,

his stories of photographing big cats in the wild. Winter will present his photos, while emphasizing the importance of protecting big cats. Winter has been a photographer for National Geographic since 1991. 3 p.m., $42 and $52, Auditorium Theatre, 50 Ida B. Wells Dr., (312) 341-2300,

Jan. 25

Aon Step Up for Kids Climb the 80 floors of The Aon Center to raise money for the patients and families of Lurie’s Children’s Hospital. After reaching the finish line, join The Mid-America Club for complimentary snacks, drinks and music. Children under 12 do not have to pay a fee to participate. 7 a.m.-12:30 p.m., $50 plus $100 fundraising commitment, Aon Center, 200 E. Randolph, (312) 227-4000,

Polar Bear Plunge The 19th annual Polar Bear Plunge raises money for charity as participants take a dip in Lake Michigan. Participants can register on Polar Bear Club’s website. After the plunge, head to Moe’s Cantina in River North for a celebration. Noon, registration starts at $30, Oak St. Beach,

Jan. 26

Polar Adventure Day A winter adventure day at Northerly Island. There will be activities, animals and crafts. Have some hot cocoa, see birds of prey and wolves and snowshoe, if weather permits. Dress warmly as some activities take place outside. Noon4 p.m., free, Northerly Island Park, 1521 S. Linn White Dr., (312) 745-2910, On the Trail of Big Cats Wildlife photographer Steve Winter tells

Jan. 31

Mayaka McCraven In These Times Jazz drummer Makaya McCraven makes his Symphony Center debut and takes on the role of band leader. “In These Times” also includes Matt Gold on guitar and Marquis Hill on trumpet. The work includes social political commentary, with historical footage and spoken-word excerpts. 8 p.m., tickets start at $24, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 220 S. Michigan Ave., (312) 294-3000,



N E W S / S T R E E T E R V I L L E


JANUARY 2020 / 15


Restaurant Week the ultimate test for New Year’s resolutions


he challenge is on, and it won’t be easy. The problem? This month features Restaurant Week. One of Chicago’s most celebrated winter events is about to kick off and it will provide the greatest of challenges to those Jon Cohn still fighting to keep those resoCOMMUNITY lutions of eating a little less and CONTRIBUTOR watching their waistline. Dangerous territory, indeed. If you do venture out, here is some basic information: More than 370 of Chicago’s finest restaurants will par-

ticipate in the 13th annual Restaurant Week from Jan. 24 to Feb. 9. The event has grown every year and features a multitude of the eateries from downtown, nearby neighborhoods and the suburbs—all offering discounted meals that include some of their finest selections. Special menus are concocted, new items offered and the friendly, service-with-a-smile atmosphere make up a truly tempting 17 days of potentially eating your way through the Chicago area. Yes, those New Year’s resolutions will be severely tested. Can they hold up under the pressure of some of last year’s favorites such as octopus at The Dawson, cauliflower soup at Baptiste and Bottle or chorizo-stuffed

dates at Avec Mediterrenan Restaurant? The popular pork bellies at Enzo can rip apart New Year’s resolutions faster than Michael Phelps cuts through water. New restaurants will be fighting for your attention, including Pizzeria Portfolio on the riverfront; Tzuco in River North featuring a unique take on Mexican food; Cebu, a Filipino restaurant in Wicker Park; and Galit, a new Lincoln Park eatery specializing in Israeli food. Bottom line? It will take some real fork discipline and a little mental toughness to not overindulge. I think they call that The Chicago Way. For more information, go to John Cohn is a New Eastside resident.

Out and About in December




Send photos and captions to for a chance for your photo to be featured.

What question can you never answer yes to?

? December answer: You throw away the outside, eat the inside, then throw away the inside. What is it? Corn on the cob.

Where am I? Do you know where this is?

Pat Downes, Kurt Fujio and Gloria Ai at the Streeterville Properties Annual Holiday Open House hosted by Gail Spreen and Dennis Downes. Photo by Mat Cohen

Answer to December Where am I? Lakeshore East Park at the corner of Westshore and E. South Water St.

If you think you know, email us at

Debbie Harlan, Philip Harlan and Dave Berggren at the Streeterville Properties Holiday Party. Photo by Mat Cohen

Ryan Augenstein and Jillian Stanley celebrating Christmas at the Bean. Photo by Stephanie Racine

Dennis Downes and Gail Spreen hosted the Streeterville Properties Annual Holiday Open House Dec. 12. Photo by Mat Cohen.

16 / JANUARY 2020




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New Eastside News January 2020  

New Eastside News January 2020