Out and About

A dancer second to none
Someone to know

Inspired by Chicago’s own lord of the dance, Michael Flatley, and his Riverdance partner Jean Butler, 11-year-old Tara Stone has danced from the shores of Lake Michigan to the mountains of Ireland and many places in between.

Over Easter, the Elmhurst girl’s solitary goal is to become the world’s best Irish dancer in her age group when she represents the U.S. and her dance school, Mullane-Healy-O’Brien Academy of Irish Dance, at the 38th Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne, the world Irish Dance Championships in Belfast, Ireland.

Tara, who started dancing at age 4 following in the footsteps of her older sister Bridget (her youngest sister, Deirdra, 7, also dances), missed her goal by just a few judge’s points last year, which was also the first year she was old enough to compete at the Worlds. Since winning the North American national champion title at age 9, Tara has gone on to become the 2006 All-Scotland champion runner up, 2007 All-Scotland champion runner up and 2007 All-Ireland champion runner up.

“I love to dance,” says Tara, with a shrug of a shoulder and a smile. She is the daughter of Kelly and Patty Stone.

Tell us three things that define who you are:"I read a lot. I have about a million books. I go to dance a lot.” She attends dance class for about two hours every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday."I like social studies and religion.”

What is it about dance that you like the best?"I like going overseas, going to different places.” She especially liked the beach the family visited in Scotland, museums in Ireland and Killarney, Ireland."I like Ireland because they have really pretty mountains.”

Did you ever think when you started dancing you’d get to represent the U.S.?"I didn’t think I’d ever really do that. Well, maybe.”

Being Irish, what do you do on March 17?"On St. Patrick’s Day, we dance at a lot of shows. (At home) we have a lot of decorations, like for Christmas.”

Your secret to your success:"Practice, try your best and have fun.”

Tamara L. O’Shaughnessy

Time for fun

84 percent of people believe having fun can add years to your life—on average saying it adds 10 years.

79 percent say fun influences where they live (go Chicago!)

82 percent of people say they’re planning to have even more fun in 2008 than they had in 2007.

83 percent of people say they do something fun every day.

SOURCE: Ritz Cracker consumer survey

Spring break longings

“After the, what seems to be, long winter, we would like to head some place warm where we could enjoy the sun and outdoor activities, some place that our 5-year-old can talk as loud as he wants and run as much as he wants. For our 12-year-old girl, this destination would be perfect if it has crystal clear water with a beach and dolphin swims. But a place that my husband and I wouldn’t feel the restraints of an all-kid activity schedule, a time for us to have time to talk and be adults.”

Stacy Maffit

“My boys have been begging for a vacation destination with the following qualities:

A hotel with a water park inside

…that is next to a forest

…that is next to a zoo

…that has pizza room service

…and comfy beds.”

Jill Barth

“Our family will probably stay local this year for spring break. We have been talking about going to the CoCo Key at the Sheraton in Arlington Heights. We also will probably make a trip downtown for a"fun day” with eating at a restaurant and one of the museums or Navy Pier.”

Madonna Alexander

“We are a family who loves to travel. Our 4-year-old daughter has been to 27 states so far. Although, all 27 of those states are in the Midwest and the East Coast so we would like to travel west this year during spring break. We love to camp so we would travel via car and make it yet another adventurous road trip.”

Wendy Jauga

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