Memorial Day Weekend 2012: 15 Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day Weekend Chicago-Style.

Memorial Day Weekend 2012: 15 Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day Weekend Chicago-Style.

Monday, May 21, 2012. Chicago's giant kick-start to summer...Memorial Day Weekend 2012...officially begins this Friday, May 25. Outdoor fun goes into overtime mode with beaches, baseball, fireworks, festivals, parades, outdoor dining and farmers markets all taking root.

In addition, Memorial Day is a day to remember those who served, fought, and died in defense of America. Show Me Chicago has put together a sampler of Chicago offerings for May 25 through May 28.

The Beach.
Chicago's 23 swimming beaches officially open for the summer this Friday, May 25.  Lifeguards will be on duty from 11am - 7pm daily.  Enjoy the city’s 26-mile lakefront along scenic Lake Michigan by spending the day at one.  of Chicago’s 23 swimming beaches. Admission is free.

The Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival.
The summer festival season is up and running and the Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival is the place to be for fest-goers this Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, May 27. The  28th annual event holds court along a bustling strip in Lakeview off of the Red Line “L” Belmont stop and features regional tribute bands, food and drink vendors and  shopping. noon to 10p.m. On N. Sheffield from Belmont to School.

The Randolph Street Market Festival.
Be the first in line at the Randolph Street Market Festival when it opens its doors for the summer season, May 26 and 27. This European-style, indoor-outdoor urban antique market in the historic West Loop neighborhood features 200 select purveyors of high quality, amazingly  priced “finds”, offering unlimited creative inspiration and hours of fun. Shoppers can find  furnishings, vintage clothing, jewelry, collectibles and more.

The Fleet Feet Sports Soldier Field 10 Mile.
Put on your running shoes for the Fleet Feet Sports Soldier Field 10 Mile on May 26. The  race travels along Chicago’s lakefront and finishes at the 50-yard line of Soldier Field. The day’s events also include a Kid’s Blitz run and  the Hut-Hut Hike walk.

Bike the Drive.
During Bike the Drive on Sunday, May 27 Lake Shore Drive is car-free.  The popular non-competitive bicycle event encompasses 30 miles of breathtaking views of the Chicago skyline. To ride, you must register in advance.

  • Register online at until Friday, May 25 at midnight.
  • Register in person Saturday, May 26 at the Merchandise Mart, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza).
  • Register the day-of-the-event at Butler Field at Columbus Avenue and Jackson Boulevard. For day-of-event registrations, arrive as early as 4:30 a.m. so you can sign up and fully enjoy the event. (Day-of registration price is $58 and does not include a T-shirt.).


Navy Pier's summer fireworks season blasts off Memorial Day weekend with fireworks on Saturday, May 26 at 10:15p.m.  The summer fireworks schedule continues every Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. and Saturday at 10:15 p.m. through Labor Day weekend. Free event.

Memorial Day Remembrances, Exhibits and Events.
Within Chicago are more than 30 war memorials located throughout the city, giving visitors an opportunity to honor those who served their country while learning about Chicago’s rich cultural history. In addition, Chicago's Memorial Day Parade and Wreath laying ceremony, one of the largest in the country offers another chance to honor those who served. Here are some ways to honor our veterans.

Parade and Wreath Laying Ceremony.
The Chicago Memorial Day Wreath Laying Ceremony and Parade will take place May 26, with the ceremony beginning at 11a.m. at the Eternal Flame on Daley Plaza (Dearborn and Washington  Streets). The parade steps off at noon and proceeds south on State Street from Lake Street  to Van Buren Street. Participants include many area high  school marching bands, drum and bugle corps as well as many veterans' groups, JROTC and the  military.

A Wreath Laying and re-dedication ceremony in Grant Park on Monday, May 28 will honor the 12 Illinois soldiers who lost their lives in service to the country in the past year. Iraq War veteran Captain Christian Palmer, United States Marines (Retired) will lead a tribute to the men and women who paid the ultimate price in Iraq and Afghanistan by adding twelve names and photos to Illinois Faces of the Fallen Soldiers. 11a.m. The General John A. Logan Memorial in Grant Park at Michigan Avenue and 9th Street.

National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum.

Located in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood, the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum  inspires greater understanding of the real impact of war with a focus on Vietnam. The Museum  collects, preserves and exhibits art inspired by combat and created by veterans and houses  over 1500 works of art, including paintings, photography, sculpture, poetry and music. Featuring art by eight women veterans, the exhibit Overlooked/Looked Over shines a light on  their unique experiences and will be on display through May 26.

The Pritzker Military Library.
Just across the street from Millennium Park, the Pritzker Military Library features a collection of books and gallery exhibits on subjects covering the full spectrum of American military history, along with military-themed posters, photographs, medals, uniforms, and other fascinating artifacts that tell the story  of the Citizen Soldier. Through July 20, the 2012 Midwest Air Force Artists Exhibition showcases original works by 14 artists that will become part of the permanent art collection  of the U.S. Air Force later this fall. Citizen Soldier, which features artifacts representing the five branches of the military and their history, and Medal of Honor, which tells the story of men who have received the nation’s highest award for valor in combat, are  two permanent exhibits in the Library.

Baseball: A Chicago Tradition.
Lucky us, both  the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs will be in town for parts of the long weekend so take your pick. Experience the South Side spirit at U.S. Cellular Field when the Chicago White Sox play the Cleveland Indians on May 25, 26 and 27.  U.S. Cellular Field is just a short  walk from the Red Line “L” train at Sox/35th.

Or head to the friendly-confines of Wrigley Field on May 28 and watch the Chicago Cubs take on  the San Diego Padres.  Wrigley Field is easily accessible from  the Red Line “L” train’s Addison stop.


Chicago's Theater scene is second to none and there is an exceptionally good line-up of shows in town right now from "The Iceman Cometh" at Goodman Theatre to "My Kind of Town" at TimeLine Theatre to the just-opened "Marvin Gaye Story" at Black Ensemble Theatres' beautiful new space on Clark.  However, if you are looking for something with a Memorial Day theme, head to Steppenwolf Theater for "The March" and you won't be sorry. The show depicts the march of 62,000 Union soldiers traveling through Georgia as both black and white refugees destroy everything in their path.

Piano Day.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) has proclaimed Sunday, May 27, 2012 as Chicago Piano Day. Piano Day--the highlight of the three-week, Keys to the City Piano Festival, will feature a roster of FREE events including recitals, films, demonstrations, lectures and piano lessons at Symphony Center.


Outdoor dining from the rooftops and patios to the streetside and backyards hits its full stride this weekend. Here are a couple of picks to get you started.

Castaways Bar and Grill.

This seasonal sensation overlooking North Avenue beach opened for the summer on May 20. Castaways serves lunch and dinner every day from 11a.m. to 11p.m. and drinks from noon to 11p.m.  Menu items include fresh salads, wraps, sandwiches, and quesadillas accompanied by frozen cocktails and Corona in a can (no bottles on the beach).  All weekend Castaways offers live music from noon to 6p.m. 1603 N. Lake Shore Drive, North Avenue Beach.  773 281 1200.

On Monday, May 28 Chicago q celebrates Memorial Day and National Brisket Day inviting guests to sample their upscale barbecue outdoors on their inviting patio.  This attractive outdoor space offers a custom-built white picket fence with lush flowers surrounding plush seating for 40 guests. 1160 N. Dearborn St.  312 642 1160.

Downtown Sound.
Downtown Sound returns to Millennium Park for a fourth season this Memorial Day.  The free Monday evening series will include ten double-bill concerts on Mondays May 28 through July 30, 2012.  The Memorial Day concert will feature the dynamic Kelly Hogan and her versatile voice and transformative style. A Chicagoan by way of Atlanta, this singer-songwriter mixes her southern roots with Chicago charm.  Scott Lucas and the Married Men open the night with their introspective brand of alternative rock. All concerts begin at 6:30 p.m. at Jay Pritzker Pavillion.

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