Chicago Loop holiday shopping – part 2, Christkindlemarket

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“Oh the weather outside is frightful…” but Christkindlmarket is oh-so delightful!

It seems to happen almost every year without fail: Come December, Chicago seems to get hit with sudden winter comprised of temperature dips plus snow. One thing we can depend on here in the Chicago area is that no matter how pleasant autumn may be, it’s a short season, and winter usually bears down in December, just in time to make holiday shopping all the more tricky.

But we’re Chicagoans; we expect it, we’re used to it and we’re tough enough to handle it! So pull on your heavy hooded coats and water-proof boots, big scarves and serious gloves and head over to Christkindlmarket at the Daley Plaza for some holiday cheer along with your holiday shopping! Also, to duck out of the cold and slush, you can take the pedway and come right up into it.

If you work nearby in the Loop, how ideal to pop over on your lunch break, when the sun is warm and high in the sky, for a hearty sausage sandwich with a side of potato pancakes, a hot chocolate to wash it down and one of the several wonderful old world bakery treats to end your meal on the perfect note.

For those who can take it, there are spots to stand around outdoors and eat, though your food will stay warmer if you head indoors for a more comfortable meal in a tent set up for indoor dining. Your co-workers will adore you for bringing back some of the baked goods or the interesting candy sold at Christkindlmarket. Stock up on baked goods while you can here, for holiday parties or your own pleasure. Traditional old world bakeries are scarce downtown.

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But let’s not forget why we stopped by: To shop for holiday gifts! Christkindlmarket abounds with everything from delightful trinkets to toys to fine jewelry. Here you can find unique tree ornaments, quaint holiday decorations, old-fashioned toys for the kids, one-of-a-kind jewelry for someone special and much more!

If you stop by in the afternoon or evening, you may experience the pleasure of live entertainment. And if pass through after work, there’s beer and a potent and tasty hot spiced wine (glug) very popular during the colder months in parts of Europe. Be sure to try it at least once (if you’re of age); you’ll find you start to forget about the cold, plus you can take the festive mug home as a souvenir. Drink up, though, because no alcoholic beverages are allowed outside the perimeter of the marketplace.

Cops stand guard watching, and of course security is extra vigilant – you have to get past cops in both directions, on your way in and on your way out and be subject to search — so don’t worry about safety issues.

If you come downtown with the family for some festive winter events and shopping, be sure to bring the children by Christkindlmarket to meet with Santa in the traditional manner.

This charming village, that seems to be transported straight from the scenic hills of Germany and plunked right down in the midst of the city, only comes once a year and only lasts about a month (from mid-November till Christmas Eve). Be sure to come and enjoy it and gather up some unusual gifts!

Happy shopping, and happy holidays to my readers near and far!

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Chicago: Where the holiday action is, part 2

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Part 1 in this two-part series announced the kick-off of the holiday season in downtown Chicago. Here is more of what’s happening during this jolly month ahead across Chicago:

Through January 8 – Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier. Navy Pier boasts one-of-a-kind shops, famous food spots, carnival rides and entertainment of almost every type and truly is a wonder to behold and enjoy during every season. But at this time of year, the decorations are larger than life. Plus Navy Pier hosts its annual Winter Wonderfest, including ice skating, which is like a holiday paradise for all ages.

December 8 and 15 – Fairly recently, I discovered the famous Cloud Gate in Millennium Park talks and tells its story. Now there’s singing there too through mid-December. On Friday evenings at 7:00 p.m., there will be choral performances and gigantic sing-alongs around “the Bean.”

December 8, 15 and 22 – Andersonville Late Nights 2017. Late night shopping, especially at holiday-time, while common in the suburbs, is rare in the city. Get some late night shopping in at the fascinating neighborhood of Andersonville. Seasonal fun and specials go on all around you to brighten these very special nights. Andersonville is a very vibrant neighborhood that really shines at this time of year. Click here for a list of deals and events. A special event that takes place in Andersonville (originally an area where many Swedes settled) is the Swedish tradition the Festival of Lights on Wednesday, December 13.

December 8-23, 26-31 and January 1-7 – Lincoln Park Zoo Lights. In my article about Lincoln Park Zoo, I pointed out the fun never stops at this zoo. Driving along Lake Shore Drive at night, the zoo looks like a magical place with its colorful lights – and it is. Don’t just be content to gawk at it from afar; join the Zoo Lights winter revelry which includes food, drink, a holiday market and live music – and it’s free!

December 9-24 – If you’ve not yet experienced the way the Music Box Theatre celebrates the season, I highly recommend it! Think you’ve seen all the classic Christmas movies too many times already? I guarantee you’ve never experienced them quite like this. Many attendees really get in the spirit by dressing up, bringing props including noise makers, reciting famous lines and best of all, singing along to these old-time movies. The Music Box Christmas Double Feature & Sing-A-Long will put you in the Christmas spirit! You can catch a single feature too if you’d rather. Check the website to see the schedule and order your tickets – get them while you can, because this is a very popular event. Devotees to this event go faithfully year after year.

December 12 & 19 – The Do It Yourself Messiah at Millennium Park. George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” is one of the most glorious oratorios in history – and one of the most popular especially at Christmas time and Easter. The music is so elevating, it’s natural to want to sing along. Here’s your chance, under the guidance of conductor Stanley Sperber and along with famous singers and musicians. Not much into singing? Maybe you should be! Several studies have concluded that singing is good for you: for your heart, lungs, circulation, sinuses and brain, immunity…as well as being emotionally uplifting and, ultimately, relaxing.

Add to all the great shopping and entertainment and sights to take in downtown, there are also great places to dine and drink. Whether grabbing lunch or enjoying a meal before the trek homeward, these are fascinating places to dive into the mix of regular locals, local tourists and people from around the world.

If you live downtown, there’s no excuse to miss all Chicago has to offer at this time of year, whether to join in an event, or simply enjoy this beautiful, colorful and classy city.

I advise you get up and out; take a revitalizing walk (perhaps at least partially by pedway if it’s frightfully cold) enjoy all that Chicago has to offer, from it’s gigantic events to the green and red-lit buildings to the planters bursting with fragrant evergreens and all the touches of beauty that Maggie Daley added to this town that transformed it from an old grey city to one of the world’s most beautiful.

If you don’t live downtown, Chicago during the holiday season is definitely worth at least one if not several trips downtown to make a day or a weekend of it; bring the whole family!

Happy Holidays! Shop, eat, drink, be merry, stay safe (be vigilant) and have fun!

Chicago: Where the holiday action is, part 1

yes2‘Tis the season to stop lamenting those bygone hot summer days, leave Halloween behind, and start enjoying all the fun Chicago has to offer during the holiday season! Whether you live downtown or commute into the city, Chicago has good times for everyone now — so bundle up, come on out and let’s have some fun!

The Chicago Lights Festival is this weekend through Saturday, November 18. Festive lights lining the Mag Mile get turned on to brighten up the winter in conjunction with a parade. Get over to Pioneer Court to revel in all sorts of entertainment including live bands. Bring the kids, because Santa has arrived in town! Many shops and restaurants in the area offer special deals at this time. The only ones who may not be pleased about all this are residents of the area trying to commute in vehicles, as there are street closures necessitating detours.

Macy’s on State Street now has its Christmas windows on display through January 7. Their theme this year is “Reasons to Believe,” promoting their Believe campaign (in conjunction with the Make-A-Wish Foundation that grants wishes to children with serious illnesses). How can you help? Write a letter to Santa – even if you’re an adult – and money will be donated to this wonderful cause. Instructions are here.

Crowds gather to view these, and it’s hard to get up front and see. If the kid in you wants to get close to the windows, the best times to do this are before schools let out for winter break and before or after shopping hours, which are extended during the holidays.

yes3No matter the weather, huddle with the crowds at Christkindlemarket at Daley Plaza in Chicago, open now through December 24. It will probably put your mind at ease to know the City of Chicago has beefed up security for this and holiday events in general throughout Chicago. So come gawk at the gorgeous tree and the charming shops. The food and drink will warm you and the shops will dazzle you with unique items, plus there is live entertainment.

Also during this exciting mid-November weekend, the ice skating rinks have just opened: You can now ice skate at the Millennium Park ice rink and the Maggie Daley Park ice skating ribbon. Skates are available for rent. Don’t miss your chance this year to do this! These skating rinks are like no place else anywhere; you’ll be surrounded by sparkling skyscrapers.

Thanksgiving weekend is coming right up. This includes the annual Thanksgiving Day parade. If you live right on State Street and plan to stay out partying the night before (“Black Wednesday”), be aware the parade preparations start in the wee hours of the morning on and around State Street. New residents in the area will no doubt be completely caught off guard by this.

Ear plugs could come in handy if you’re trying to get your sleep, because there’s always some guy with a bullhorn bellowing out instructions; this starts well before the parade and continues throughout. Bands line up and practice before the parade starts too. It gets very noisy. In the past, we simply gave in when the parade started, no matter how little sleep: Got up and sat in our pj’s by the window, coffee in hand, watched the parade, and then went back to bed for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner nap.

The annual Turkey Trot takes place the day after Thanksgiving in Lincoln Park. The cool thing about this is it’s  for walkers as well as runners and people of all ages. There’s a Turkey Day Run 5K/8K and a Plymouth Rock Ramble kids race. These are followed by yet more fun activities including Corn Hole, Football Toss and Turkey Bowling. Thanksgiving costumes are encouraged. Dress as a turkey — but don’t be one: Sign up now or sponsor a participant, because proceeds go to feed Chicago’s hungry via the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

yes, smallAdditionally, for those who don’t wish to cook and have no place to go for Thanksgiving or just want to do your own thing, there are loads of Chicago restaurants serving tasty Thanksgiving dinners. Click here for a list of just some of the excellent restaurants offering Thanksgiving feasts.

Check back soon for part 2 and learn about more Chicago seasonal events hosted with your delight and enjoyment in mind! If you subscribe to my blog (a free and easy process, right from this page), I will keep you informed so you can experience loads of holiday fun this year in downtown Chicago.

Find your voice…and use it!

Chicago Ideas Week’s 2017 “Finding Your Voice with VOXX and Queens Brunch” lab was geared toward women, but men can use these techniques too, because we all need to find our voice and speak up. To not do so is stifling.

Every women has a voice, but women aren’t always encouraged to use their voices (and are sometimes even discouraged from speaking), so not all women are used to sharing their voices. And it’s hard to use your voice if you don’t even know your voice. This workshop and what I will share with you here will assist you in finding and utilizing your voice. Once you do, things should start to look up in your life.

The workshop started out when we were asked to do a couple of small exercises. The first, although so quick and simple, felt extremely liberating: We wrote down on a piece of paper something we wanted to expel. Then we crumpled it up and threw it away. Next, we were asked to stand up and shake various body parts to loosen up, something we should do any time we feel tight/stressed. That of course felt good too.

The organizations VOXX and Queens Brunch were described and a bit about each group’s founders (Lisa Sorich and Rosetta Lane of VOXX and Shayna Atkins of Queens Brunch).  VOXX is about bringing women together to give them the chance to share their voices. Queens Brunch is an organization that brings women together to find their voices over brunch. A practice at VOXX is two women sitting on a couch sharing what they have learned.

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Kari McGrath and Torri Shaaron were invited to come up to the stage and make themselves comfortable on the couch. What followed was a conversation between them that was very frank and open, thought-provoking, inspirationally stimulating and potentially life-altering to those in the audience who needed to hear these women’s stories so we too could find our voices.

McGrath said she had been feeling “like a bird in a cage” who couldn’t find her song. She described this feeling as energy-draining, especially as she was the type of person who really invested herself and “gave 110 percent.” When she was let go from her job, it felt like she was set free out of the cage. She described this as a beautiful shift. Subsequently she got into coaching and built a business helping others to “show up.“

Tidbits of McGrath’s wise advice:
We each have a story. Write your story the way you want it to be.
Follow other story tellers because it’s helpful to learn that somebody else has a similar story.
We have several characters living within us. For instance, there can be chatter in our heads that tries to discourage us, makes us doubting whether we are good enough, whether we should even try to do something amazing. Ignore all that; hear a different voice!
Get rid of preconceived notions; let go of what you think it should be like. Throw all that away. One concept to throw away, for instance, is that of “perfect timing.” Don’t wait for that!
When what you are doing comes from your passion, it makes sense and it all falls into place.

Shaaron quit her job in engineering, and although still not employed, she now has her voice. She believes in disruption: Speaking up and challenging the norm, throwing away the rule book. When she does re-enter the workforce, she knows she “wants to work only with nice people.”

Some of Shaaron’s words of wisdom:
Sometimes you don’t know what “there” looks like much less how to get from here to there…but you know you have got to get there. Her motto is “Just start.”
Sometimes you voice is challenged and you have to stretch our of your comfort zone. The biggest challenge can be you own self-doubt. We all want to be liked and respected. Sometimes you need to stand up and speak out.
Important values: Respectful honesty, being kind, staying true to the mission.

Kari mentioned that our center is where our voice lives. So she had us get quite, comfortable  and close our eyes while she led us on three visualization journeys. Readers, try these feel-good confidence-boosters yourself:

  1. Think back to when you were at your best, the top of your game, confident, you were in the right place at the right time and things were going your way. How did that feel?
  2. If you had your own billboard, what would it say?
  3. Imagine yourself about to go on stage to make a presentation and a voice addresses you by name and says, “In the next few moments, when you get on stage, you will make an impact that affects everyone in the audience for the rest of their lives” What would you want that impact to be?

Next, we were given brief questionnaires to fill out. Readers, fill in the blanks for a better understanding of when your voice gets locked and how to unlock it:

  • When I am passionate, I sound like:
  • My voice gets small when:
  • What I want to say more of, more often is:
  • My voice is unlocked when:

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After another similar fill-in-the-blanks exercise, a request was made that two folks from the audience volunteer to go to the couch and talk about how these exercises helped them. Here are some of the highlights of two one-on-one couch conversations that followed:

A strongly patriarchal upbringing can lead to an ongoing fear of authority.
Many of us have lost jobs; this led to the discovery that often it takes losing a job in order to find our voice. This is not unusual.
You can say you were “fired” or “let go.” The second way of looking at it is obviously more positive and, in fact, freeing.
We are all making it up as we go. So it’s okay to say, “I don’t know. I have to think about it.” And also to call on others for help or advice.
First things first: You have to “be there.” Being more present to one’s own heart, soul, gut will enable you to know exactly how you feel about a situation before you speak.
No matter what you’re going through, “You’re going to get through it.” Keep going.
Let your light shine — but also let the light in!

Atkins of Queens Brunch wrapped up by imparting some gems of wisdom:
When people network, most people seek to network up. But what is often overlooked: It’s very important to network across as well.
She feels most fervent when she knows she has a tribe at the end of her journey. Women, find your tribe or collect a tribe around you.
“You can start over. You can do anything!”

If statues could talk – Yo, they can!

When you are in Chicago and you come upon a monument, don’t you wish you could know more about the person being represented other than the brief explanation, if any, on the plaque? I’ve often wished I had the inside scoop on what their lives were all about. And there are also non-monument statues sprinkled all over Chicago, too, which I’ve often wondered about: Who was the artist and what was his or her life about? Whom were they depicting when they created the statue – is there some message inherent in the statue or was it simply commissioned for decoration?

Statue Stories Chicago now provides answers on many of our monuments and statues! And this is why I had a keen interest in attending the Chicago Ideas Week lab “Bring History to Life with Statue Stories.” Fortunately, this happened last week while the weather was still very pleasant, since part of this lab involved a walk to a nearby work of art (which happened to be the Cloud Gate a/k/a “the bean” in Millennium Park) for a listen.

Julia Bachrach introduced herself as a historian, preservationist and author who has written several books for the Chicago Park District for whom she is the historian and planning supervisor. She mentioned that for anyone who is interested, there is an archive of about 70,000 statues available at the Harold Washington Chicago Public Library.

Statue Stories took about four years to put into play and has been in place for three years, with more statue recordings coming; some of them are contests one can enter, even children – not just for statues, but for some of the dinosaurs and cows on display. Bachrach gave us a history of how Statue Stories came about and how it works. It’s very easy. You need a smart phone with the swipe (a/k/a scan) app on your phone. When you find a participating monument or statue (see Who’s Talking Where for an online index), you look for the tag code. Shortly after you swipe, your phone will ring. It will be the statue calling you to tell you about him/herself! There’s no charge for this, other than what you would normally be charged by your provider for a call.

Local writers, actors and celebrities wrote and recorded the statue monologues. One original requirement for a qualifying monument is that it have a face. But after it was discovered there’s a dearth of women’s monuments, some exceptions were made so there could be more female statues in the project. Some statues, like Bob Newhart at the tip of Navy Pier, are in popular locations and tell their stories often. Others are more far-flung.

Bachrach herself wrote the monologue for the Alexander von Humboldt monument in Humboldt Park to be recited not by von Humboldt himself, but by the lizard toward the base of the statue. She did this to represent his worldwide travels, and then it was recorded by Colombian-American actress Sandra Delgado; Bachrach felt the casting was perfect and that Delgado had done her monologue justice.

After Bachrach introduced Statue Stores, we watched a “Chicago at Play” video which started out, “One day, 30 statues came alive and started speaking.” Because of my love of Chicago and the monuments and statues I’ve happened upon over the years, I found this moving: Finally we could learn about these statues! As Chicago has one of the world’s most important collections of public art, this project gives even more of a sense of pride in Chicago, its history and the fascinating personalities who have been a part of that history.

After we all took a jaunt over to Cloud Gate and back, we got to create our own Cloud Gate compositions. Lead by MT Cozzola in coming up with our own monologues, Quraysh Ali Lansana in creating poems and social media guru Jessie Jury who taught us how to share effectively online,  it was another wonderful Chicago Ideas Week lab that was full of learning, first-hand experiences and creating,

As class wound down, we were asked if anyone wanted to read their piece aloud. One of the exercises was to write what the Cloud Gate might say if it recorded a voice mail message. Somehow I found my hand in the air volunteering to read mine: “Hi. This is Cloud Gate. I am always here, so come on by. I will welcome you in any season at any time of day or night. Let’s be friends.” Why did I add “Let’s be friends”? Because, Cloud Gate’s monologue sounds open and friendly — but you’ll just have to go and listen for yourself.

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Make a difference: Raise your voice

The Chicago Ideas Week topic was “Journalism + You = Power,” a timely topic  in the current media environment where the term “fake news” is used a lot, yet this Chicago Ideas Week presentation went far beyond that trend, to where each individual can make a difference. In attendance were mostly writers and those in marketing and public relations, although this class would have been valuable to anyone who wonders what news they can believe anymore and what, if anything, they can do about it.

Although this Chicago Ideas Week lab was interactive, we soaked up much knowledge, wisdom and inspiration by listening attentively to our class instructor, Public Narrative’s president. I’ll admit when I volunteered for this writing assignment, I didn’t realize how deeply compelling the presentation would be.

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Storytelling – News – Journalism
Storytelling: It’s a form of communication; we all do it. We tell stories for a reason; when a story is told, there’s an intent on the part of the storyteller. Journalists are the storytellers who tell the news. Journalists are accountable to very high standards, the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, and rightly so. Citizens have a right to news that is reported with the purest motives: To inform accurately.

A lot of what we read and hear now, although passed off as news on “news channels” and “news programs” is not really news. It’s often overlaid with the opinions and highly-charged emotions of the reporters. The expression “fake news” has been used a lot lately, yet it was pointed out the term doesn’t make sense and in fact is an oxymoron. In any case, it’s undesirable when the border between news and op-ed are blurred by those who report the news. It’s especially injurious when public alarm is caused — and we seem to be in a continuous state of this lately.

There are several different types of news. Basically, news is meant to tell something that happened, but it can also be informational, announcing something that is happening or is going to happen. How-to news is also informational.

An example of everyday observational was shown: A story of something that had happened, posted to Facebook, backed up by pictures and a video. Someone commented on the post explaining what had specifically happened on the train that caused the delay. The author of the story thanked her commenter and asked who she was and also looked her up on the internet. Turns out she was a spokesperson for the CTA, a trustworthy source. Now everyone who read this post knew what happened and why. That was news.

Credible Journalism
There are a few different types of news, and there’s non-news: Propaganda, opinion, advertising, entertainment (some of it true) and public relations – trying to pass themselves off as news. This includes infomercials that sometimes even look as if they’re on a legitimate news site, but most people now-a-days can spot marketing ploys that come disguised as news.

So how does one know if something they read or hear is actual news and not one of the above-mentioned foolers?  The first thing to ascertain is: What is the intent? Is it to inform, entertain, persuade? Beware of biases. Look at who the sponsors of the program are and who advertises on their show or site.

Also good to note is the news source. “News organizations that are more transparent are generally more credible.” In early times, newspapers were very slanted, depending on who owned them and their beliefs. It used to be that the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times were strictly conservative or liberal as were the dedicated readers of each. Now, not so much anymore. But even newspapers tend to have some native advertising, so stay aware. After all, news is a business; it takes money to produce the news, and in order to stay afloat, ads are part of the business that make that possible.

On social media, countless stories are passed along continuously, often as a knee-jerk reaction. Before you pass something along, consider your own credibility: Make sure what you’re sharing is true. First, do your research. While you read a piece, after perhaps a couple of introductory paragraphs, you should start seeing attribution, which denotes true news. Attribution can be in the form of sources cited (actual names and titles), context (this year’s budget versus last year’s), verifiable quotes and links that lead to respectable internet sites that can back up what is being said.

Don’t simply believe everything you read. Be a fact checker, do a little digging; reading the news isn’t a passive activity but a participatory one. Why is this important? So you get real news, so you share only what is true. By doing so, you are being a good citizen. Everybody needs to be able to rely on the news, which should be comprised solely of legitimate facts.

Good citizenship and the news
As citizens of this country and consumers of the news, we have a right and a responsibility, per the First Amendment to keep news honest. It was put forth that “We are the checks-and-balances of the news. We depend on the media to be our guardian; we in turn need to be guardians of the media. The democracy depends on us. The news organizations uphold democracy.” Does one individual have any power in this regard? Yes! How?

To Do:

  • Know who is reputable, someone without their own agenda whom you can believe. Our class instructor curated her own list of seven to eight people who are in the know and checks them first thing each morning. Some of these are, as she put it, “people on the ground” who sometimes report something before it even breaks in the regular news…Wouldn’t it be great to have your own list like this? Then you would be intelligently informed as to what’s really going on, minus any reporter’s slant or bias, minus fear-mongers. You can do this: Scout around for trust-worthy journalists. Now you know how. You can (and should) be in the know.
  • Next, if you are not subscribed to any news source, find a good one and buy a paid subscription. Many seem to be under the impression the news should be free, especially in this information era. When you become a paying subscriber, you are helping uphold the First Amendment. Still, the news service is a business and it needs funds to produce the news. Just as you would expect to pay your bill at the dentist, paying for news is no different. By subscribing, you can reward the hard work countless people in the media are doing for you.
  • When is the last time you interacted with a news outlet or journalist? Perhaps you don’t realize: You have more power than you think! News providers are beholden to us to get it right. Communicate with them, be it a strong disagreement with what you’ve read or if you feel they’ve done a particularly good job presenting coverage on a story. Our class instructor assured us that editors and journalists read their mail; they want to get it right; that is their duty. Your communication with them doesn’t have to be lengthy. A simple “Thank you for taking the time to write this” can be compliment enough to keep good news coming. The more you communicate with the media, they will start to recognize your name and the more influential you will become. We live in a democracy; let’s raise our voices…so we can ultimately live in a more ideal world.

 

The Bennett-Curtis House: A Halloween treat

1 YES FB-HostHalloween is approaching. One suggestion for a great Halloween experience: The Bennett-Curtis House in Grant Park, Illinois, which is transformed into a spectacular haunted mansion at this time of year and includes scrumptious food and delicious concoctions!

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One Friday evening, two downtown city gals, decked out in their Halloween costumes, set out on a trip to the country under the beacon of the Hunter Full Moon. It was a long drive from bustling downtown Chicago, past suburbs via the highway and a dark country road seemingly cutting through the middle of nowhere. Cook County was left behind for Kankakee County; tall buildings were replaced by far flung farmhouses.

2 YES FB-Untitled 0 00 10-08Eventually they pulled into the charming town of Grant Park, Illinois, past the small businesses, through the residential district and breathed a sigh of relief as they finally pulled up to the huge mansion that loomed before them. It had been a long trip, but all cares melted into ooh’s and ah’s as they stepped into Halloween fantasy land at The Bennett-Curtis House!

The foyer was a Halloween-lover’s delight. It was clear the decorators had gone all out to transform this beautiful Victorian home into a full-out haunted mansion. As they stood in the lobby waiting to be seated, a spooky character held them spellbound, a small ghoul strode by silently, loud rowdy folks in costumes scurried from one room to the next and a scream was heard. There was a murder mystery dinner going on in one room, and as the two summoned up the courage to delve back into the depths of the restaurant to find their hosts, people and assorted monsters dotted the tables in the dim. It was surreal for real!

3 YES FB-blue goolBack in the bar, an elegant buffet was set up, and there was a well-stocked bar with costumed folks sitting around that looked diabolical. Soon the gals were shown to a table in the “Bat Room” and greeted by a severed arm on their table.

Each enjoyed a unique pumpkin potion: One with tequila and the other with vodka. The menu was hilarious – it begged to be read aloud – and included such delicacies as “Wolfman’s Favorite,” “Swine Chops,” “Pile of Bloody Bones,” etc. Mmm! The two heroines of our story had hoped for a novel atmosphere, and this far surpassed their expectations in that even the food, every course, was perfect (and delicious).

4 YES FB-Untitled 0 00 27-05The night was topped off with a private tour through the haunted mansion – which was incredible, very creepy, by the way! – before driving off into the cool country evening, back through the Twilight Zone and once again returning safely to the big city. It was wholeheartedly agreed this had indeed been a perfect way to kick off the Halloween season!

The Bennett-Curtis House is pure class, with attention to every detail, wrapped in fantasy.

5 YES Leaving the Haunted House Restaurant 0 00 00-05Check out their newsletter for more Halloween events, including the “Spooky Booffet,” where kids eat free on Mondays with an adult purchase and a psychic luncheon. Browsing their website will wow you with the many fabulous events hosted year-round. They also serve holiday meals with all the trimmings.

Who knows: You might visit them for Halloween this year…and end up having your wedding there!