Get out there and play
Although your kids might just see trees as nature’s jungle gyms, trees are vital to our environment. Celebrate the tall, leafy oxygenators during Arbor Day festivities this weekend. Arbor Day is traditionally celebrated on the last Friday in April. Check out more than just trees at the Arbor Day Celebration event at the Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens, 7402 Lake Katherine Drive, Palos Heights. Hosted in one of the nation’s Tree Cities, Palos Heights, your family will have a chance to explore exhibits and demonstrations from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday for free. Activities include dog agility and flyball demonstrations, pony and hay rides, a petting zoo, children’s activities and visits with gardening experts. For more information, call (708) 361-1873 or visit lakekatherine.org.Enjoy all things tree as you tour the woods and take in the oaks at the Heller Nature Center, 2821 Ridge Road, Highland Park, from 9 a.m.-noon on Friday. Admission is free. For more information, call (847) 433-6901 or visit hellernaturecenter.org.Make a more proactive move with the power of the pen at Morton Arboretum’s Treewhispers event from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Your kids can write poems, environmental messages and other thoughts appropriate for Arbor Day using materials such as recycled paper goods, leaves, grasses and pine needles. The arboretum will hang all of the resulting"cards” as leaves on a faux tree. Morton Arboretum, located at 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, was founded by Joy Morton, the proprietor of Morton Salt Company as well as the son of Julius Sterling Morton, who fathered Arbor Day. This event is free with arboretum admission of , seniors 65 and older, kids 2-17 and free kids under 2. Parking is included with admission. For more information, call (630) 968-0074 or visit mortonarb.org.Across the Indiana/Illinois state border, the Taltree Arboretum and Gardens, 450 W. 100 North, Valparaiso, hosts its Arbor Day Celebration from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday. The event includes tree, wetland and ephemeral woodland walks, a Garlic-Mustard Pull (bring your gardening gloves) and a heavy-equipment tree-planting demonstration throughout the day. Meet the local master gardeners, birding club, butterfly interest group and the photography club. Get your family involved in tree conservation by stopping by the tree-giveaway booth to take home a tree sapling. For a detailed list of activities, visit the Web site. Admission is free. For more information, call (219) 462-0025 or visit taltree.org.For more on Arbor Day, visit arborday.org. For more tree- and non-tree-related activities this weekend, visit our calendar.
Pictured, Cornelian-Cherry Dogwoods in bloom at the Morton Arboretum.
Get your tickets here
Grab your ruby slippers and join Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion when you win tickets to the 7:30 p.m. May 1 production of“The Wizard of Oz.” Two lucky Chicago Parent readers will win a family four-pack to the musical, playing at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., Chicago. Before you enter, please make sure you can make this show.“The Wizard of Oz” is playing from April 30-May 3. For more information, visit thechicagotheatre.com. To win, visit our discussion board.
Get out there and play some more
Discover new, or tried-and-true, ways to go greener 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday at the North Lake Shore Earth Day Celebration, held at Loyola’s Lakeshore campus’ Quinlan Life Sciences Building, 1050 W. Sheridan Road, Chicago. The event, in its second year, hosts North Side organizations and activists to hone in on this year’s theme to“act locally.” Some of the activities include learning about energy conservation and kitchen gardens while the kids take in worm composting, yoga and environmentally themed arts and crafts. It is recommended that families walk, ride a bike or take public transportation via the CTA Red Line and the 147 bus; however, free parking is available at the campus main structure. For more information, visit luc.edu/earthday.
The arrival of large schools of smelt, a small fish common in the northern Great Lakes, is considered a sign that spring has finally sprung. This Friday, head over to Highland Park for its annual Smelt Fest, where your family can catch Smelt using drop- or dip-netting—which uses a pulley system to drop nets in and out of the water—and taste a fried smelt. Did we mention that you eat the 4-inch-long fish whole? A limited number of nets will be provided and families are encouraged to bring their own. Because smelt run in schools, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll catch one, but that’s half the fun of fishing. Live entertainment will also be on site and food (minus your taste of smelt) is available for purchase. Don’t forget to dress warmly as it’s still pretty chilly by the water. Smelt Fest is from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at Park Avenue Beach, 31 Park Ave., Highland Park. Admission is per car or per person. For more information, call (847) 831-3810 or visit pdhp.org.
Piece of the prize