March 12, 2009

Get out there and play

Chicago loves St. Patrick’s Day and that means lots of fun for your family this weekend in the city and South Side. Dress your little leprechauns in green and celebrate all things Irish—there will be plenty of food, toe-tapping music, bagpipes and Irish dancing.

Don’t miss Chicago’s massive annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade along Columbus Drive, featuring more than 200 floats and marching bands and this year’s Parade Queen Julie Popp. The parade steps off at noon at Balbo Drive and ends at Monroe. The viewing stand is located in front of Buckingham Fountain.

The Chicago River, as always, will be colored a festive (and environmentally safe) green for the occasion. Arrive by 10:45 a.m. to see the dyeing in action. The best place to watch is the intersection of Michigan Avenue, Wacker Drive and the river. Like magic, the dye begins as a funky orange before—as the organizers claim—their special leprechaun transforms it into a beautiful Irish green. Kids will be astonished.

After the last float has driven off, crash the Irish American Heritage Center’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival and Celebration, 4626 N. Knox Ave., Chicago. From 1 p.m.-midnight, the family-oriented event offers food, dance, music and traditional and modern-day Irish activities. Tickets are , in advance, free kids 12 and under.

If Saturday doesn’t work for your family, check out the always fun South Side Irish Parade, celebrating faith, family and heritage. The parade begins at noon on Sunday and runs along Western Avenue from 104th to 115th streets.

For more information, visit, and

Get out there and play some more

Celebrate an American tradition this weekend at the Sugar Bush Fair. The event features maple sugaring, including a maple syrup boil-down, re-created Native American and pioneer-era sugar camps, a puppet show and a pancake breakfast. 9 a.m.-noon Saturday and Sunday. Free admission, breakfast costs for a full stack of pancakes, for a half-stack. Discounted advance sale tickets are .50 or .50. Spring Valley Nature Center& Heritage Farm, 1111 E. Schaumburg Road, Schaumburg. (847) 985-2100,

Piece of the prize

Barbie is out with a new DVD March 17, this time pairing with Thumbelina. This week, two lucky Chicago Parent readers will win a Barbie and Thumbelina prize pack, which includes the DVD, two dolls and a gardening set. The entire package is recyclable. For more information, visit To win, visit our discussion board.

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