A family guide to Memorial Day in Chicago

A memorable morning

Star-Spangled Snacks

Patriot Cupcakes



  • 1 box strawberry cake mix
  • 1/8 cup red food coloring
  • 1 container prepared white frosting
  • Blueberries for garnish
  • Flag picks for garnish

Mix cake batter according to package instructions, substituting
1/8 cup of red food coloring for 1/8 cup of the water. Bake
into cupcakes. Cool to room temperature. Frost and decorate
cupcakes with blueberries and flag picks. For extra fun, we like to
bake these in flag- and star-decorated cupcake liners.

Dad’s Favorite Ribs



  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup paprika
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated onion
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • 2 pounds baby back ribs
  • 1 bottle prepared barbecue sauce

Tear off a piece of heavy duty foil that is 2¼ times as long as
each rack of ribs; coat with cooking spray. Place each rack of ribs
on a piece of foil; sprinkle the seasoning mixture all over both
sides of the ribs. Fold the foil to completely wrap the ribs. Place
on a baking sheet; refrigerate for four-eight hours. Place
foil-wrapped ribs on a baking sheet; bake in a 350 degree oven for
two hours. Remove from oven and carefully open foil pouch. Brush
both sides of the ribs with a generous amount of barbecue sauce.
Return to oven. Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until

Start at Daley Plaza (Dearborn and Washington streets in downtown Chicago) at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 24, 2014, for the solemn wreath laying ceremony at the eternal flame. The ceremony honors Illinois Gold Star Families who have lost a loved one to war-a reminder to all of us that local families have lost a father, brother, sister, son or daughter to the ongoing conflicts overseas.

The parade

Next it’s time to celebrate this great country at the Memorial Day Parade. Also on Saturday, kicking off at noon at State and Lake streets, the parade marches south on State to Van Buren. Considered one of the largest Memorial Day parades in the U.S., your kids will delight in the marching bands and drum and bugle corps that make their way through downtown.

Back at home

Now that you’re back home, grab the foil-wrapped ribs that have been marinating all day and throw them in the oven. While they’re cooking, let the kids help you make patriotic cupcakes for dessert.

A museum visit

To keep up the patriotic theme the rest of the weekend, visit the 1st Infantry Division Museum at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. Kids of all ages love climbing the military equipment in the Tank Park. Even better, no one will tell them to get off–these are real tanks that will stand up to all sizes of kids clambering all over them. Eleven tanks from World War I to Desert Storm dot the park, along with armored personnel carriers and artillery pieces. Kids can pretend to be in the middle of action when they’re seated atop an M1 Abrams Tank or shooting a howitzer. Make sure your kids wear sturdy gym shoes to climb as some of the tanks are really high off the ground.

Next, head indoors to the museum for an interactive look at America’s war history from the Revolutionary War to the Persian Gulf War. Boys in the midst of an obsession-with-war stage will love walking through the bunkers listening to the sounds of bombs exploding around them. And nothing beats watching the short movie about the landing at Normandy and then watching the wall open just like the ships so that you can walk out into an interactive war experience. When you’re ready for a break, Cantigny has plenty of places to put down a blanket for a picnic lunch or visit their on-site restaurant.

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