The Splendid Rites of Summer

Vol. I No. 4 - SUMMER 1989

By: Gloria L. Evenson

Anyone interested in inexpensive, old-fashioned summer fun right here in the city? Look what we have in Edgewater!

Carnivals are always a big part of summer. So, step right up, my friend, and see what’s happening at St. Gregory’s Church and School, Ashland and Bryn Mawr, on June 14-18.

Everything for old-time carnival excitement will be there - swirling rides (Ferris Wheel, Merry-Go-Round, and a few wilder ones), fluffy cotton candy and popcorn, Milwaukee bratwurst simmered in beer (a St. Gregory specialty) and rows of colorful booths crammed with gadgets and trinkets to buy. One can try his hand at games of chance and skill or a raffle with cash prizes up to $1,000.

Summer festivals have been part of St. Gregory’s since the church’s inception in 1904, when a grand lawn party was held by founding father, Peter Reinberg, who was also 26th Ward Alderman, to raise money for the new parish. Carnival information: 561-3456.

A Swedish theme with something for everyone can be found at Andersonville Midsommarfest over on Clark between Foster and Catalpa. The weekend extravaganza, this year June 24 and 25, is based on the Swedish tradition of celebrating the longest day of the year, June 21.

It includes a Maypole-raising in front of the Swedish American Museum, 5211 N. Clark, entertainment by Swedish cultural groups, and a Miss Andersonville contest. Two stages of continuous entertainment have featured multi-ethnic, rock, Dixie, jazz and gospel music. Sidewalk cafes from restaurants along Clark offer a luscious sampling of everything from Swedish pancakes to Middle Eastern falfal to good old-fashioned American ribs.

Arts and crafts, hayrides, a petting zoo, and “specials” in Clark Street stores add to the festivities, which are sponsored by the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor’s Office of Special Events. Midsommarfest info: 728-2995.

Anyone into Greek culture? Then by all means move on to St. Andrews Greek Orthodox Church, 5649 N. Sheridan, for their all-Greek Fest on Sunday, July 9. Here you can feast on traditional Greek shishkabob called souvlaki, red and white wines known as Roditis and Retsina, as well as a Greek-style chicken dinner… not to mention the appetizers, like flaming goat cheese (saganaki) and olives, salads, sausage and meatballs or ambrosial sweets to tempt the gods.

There are Greek and American dances to try, rides and games, music by the Linardakis Brothers band and a special performance by Greek dancers from Rockford. Greekfest Info: 334-4515.

Nature lovers can discover the secluded treasures of Edgewater yards at any of three garden walks: Lakewood Balmoral Residents’ Council (LBRC) on Sunday, June 25; Edgewater Glen Association on Sunday, June 25; and East Andersonville Residents’ Council (EARC) on Saturday, July 15. With program booklet in hand, one can leisurely stroll among multi-colored rows, clusters, baskets and vines, and see what wonders can be done with a patch of yard or even a back porch.

EARC’s garden walk has featured a building on Glenwood with three porches tastefully draped in flower boxes and hanging baskets and a yard on Summerdale with every inch planted in oriental vegetables. Once known as choice vegetable farmland, Edgewater today still boasts some fine, though considerably smaller crops.

Cool drinks are provided at some gardens (one has even offered fine wine) and a chance to relax in a quiet sweet-scented oasis surprisingly remote from bustling city chaos.

And, of course, summertime means block parties. A whopper is put on by the TAHBS (Thorndale, Ardmore, Hollywood, Broadway, Sheridan) Citizen’s Council. One of Chicago’s largest neighborhood fests with an estimated attendance of 2,000 last year, this event will take place Saturday, August 5.

After opening ceremonies by the 48th Ward alderman’s office, traditional block partying begins - summer foods (hamburgers, pizza, ice cream), music, a flea market, art exhibits, dancing, games and a raffle with prizes donated by local residents. Proceeds from this event go to various neighborhood improvement projects.

Now, how about a nice big flea market to wind up the summer? Up to 200 dealers, some from as far away as Wisconsin and Iowa, display their wares on Paulina between Foster and Balmoral each year on the last Saturday in August (the 26th this year). Anything under the sun might be found, according to Ron Massengill, President of West Andersonville Neighbors Together (WANT) who sponsors the “gala junkfest.”

Food, of course, is not far away at Ebenezer Lutheran Church (Foster and Paulina) and Summerdale Community Church (Paulina and Farragut). Background music is provided by local groups while customers dig for bargains and treasures.

When asked of any outstanding memories in the event’s 10-year history, Massengill replied that Gov. James Thompson and other dignitaries have been known to attend. Other guests not as welcome were an epidemic of bees two years ago and the event was once demolished by a 15-minute flash flood just after closing. Enthusiasm, however, was not dampened. Flea Market info: 561-9097.

Carnivals to flea markets and more. Sights, smells, sounds, tastes, Fourth of July fireworks and strolls in the park. The gritty feel of beach sand underfoot and that first cold dip in Lake Michigan on a hot day.

Summer in Edgewater - ain’t it grand?!