Waukegan Main Street joined a long list of volunteers and volunteer organizations who are keeping our beautiful Waukegan Municipal Beach beautiful. With the hard work every weekday of Eco-Ambassadors and individuals hired through a DNR Grant awarded to the Waukegan Park District, the weekend clean-up efforts take less than two hours.
Our group on Saturday was small, but efficient. Two Board members, Sandy Petroshius and Nick Nicketakis, joined Michael May, Paul Ferry and a high schooler putting in two hours of community service. The group “divided and conquered” the beach, ending up with only two mostly full liner bags of trash. This is a vast improvement from the last two years of volunteer clean up where often each individual ended up with a full bag. Congratulations to Friends of Waukegan Beach and alderman Lisa May for coordinating the volunteer efforts!
Waukegan Main Street has volunteered for two more Saturdays – August 30th and September 6th. If you would like to join us, call the office at (847) 623-6650. Many hands make light the work.
Two poets rode 1,400 miles on a tandem bicycle through America’s heartland, writing free poems & building Little Free Libraries. How cool is that? Really cool, when a brand new Little Free Libraries is located outside the Jack Benny Center at Bowen Park!
Maya Stein and Amy Tingle, poets who rode a tandem bicycle and towed two typewriters 1,400 miles from Boulder, Colorado to Beloit, Wisconsin, swung by Bowen Park to open the latest Little Free Library, write poems from a word given to them, share their stories, and open up the Tiny Traveling Library. (Feel free to contribute to the Tiny Traveling Library.)
Stein came to Waukegan two years ago after a 40-day, 1,200-mile trip from Amherst, Massachusetts to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During that trip, she towed her typewriter and invited people at each stop to contribute to a collaborative collection of writing. According to their Kickstarter page, “Her journey was documented by several publications, including The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, Rails-to-Trails Magazine, and The Writer. ”
Currently 11,000 US towns do not have public libraries and this poetic pair is out to change that by building new libraries in communities they visit. Waukegan is lucky enough to have an award-winning library, so that is not an issue. The issue is, many parents and family members wait for the children/siblings who are taking lessons at Jack Benny Center and they often are looking for something to do. The Little Free Library has books for adults and kids to read while they wait, or take with them. Claudia Freeman, Superintendent of Cultural Arts for the Waukegan Park District put out a call to fill the new Little Free Library and, as of yesterday afternoon, had a box and a few bags of books. Freeman promised to put out the call when more books are needed.
Finally, the poets also created personalized poetry “for the people we meet, a keepsake of our trip and – we hope – an inspiration for others to tap into their own creativity.” They asked for a word, individually typed poems based on that word, read the poems aloud, and took a photo of the completed works for a final book about the project.
Per Stein, “Type Rider II: The Tandem Poetry Tour is about creativity, collaboration, and community. We hope to promote literacy and the love of reading for children and adults everywhere. And by writing poems for the people we meet along the way, we hope to spark the spirit of connection through creativity and inspire young writers to keep pursuing their passion.”
Our last big event of the summer was Saturday July 26th in Downtown Waukegan! Our Promotions Committee and staff worked diligently to secure participating locations, volunteers , a band to perform at the College of Lake County Lakeshore Campus Courtyard on Genesee and Madison, and sponsors. Many thanks to North Shore Gas, Vista Health System and Consumers Credit Union for sponsoring our seventh annual Wine and Art Stroll.
Nearly 250 people enjoyed the warm summer evening and walking to and through the galleries, shops and restaurants. “What a nice success, topping off a month of events in our downtown,” said Jane Ferry, Executive Director of Waukegan Main Street. “We had different crowds for each event, although it was fun to see the familiar faces from one event to the next. We’ve also been very lucky with the weather from fireworks on the 4th through to Wine and Art Stroll on the 26th.”
In addition to showcasing artwork by dozens of local artists, the festival this year took on new dimensions with an exciting performance by an up-and-coming Afro-Latin musical group plus al fresco dining. Visitors equipped with souvenir wine glasses strolled through the Waukegan Arts & Entertainment District, and sampled a variety of wines at more than 20 participating specialty shops, galleries and restaurants including new businesses. As they strolled, art aficionados met featured artists, perused popup art exhibits, enjoedy live music and purchased unique treasures to take home.
“Wine & Art Stroll brings an eclectic crowd to downtown Waukegan—from college students to retirees, people who treasure traditional art and those who appreciate the avant garde,” said Ferry. “Whether people were looking for a date night or a girls’ night out, they really enjoyed getting to know the artists and our downtown merchants in a relaxed way.”
Not to be missed was the dynamic concert by CALJE (Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble) in the College of Lake County courtyard. The ensemble blends Afro-Cuban jazz, traditional Cuban rhythms, Jamaican reggae, Spanish flamenco and more with a modern jazz flair. CALJE’s critically acclaimed debut album, “Blueprints,” received 3½ stars from Downbeat Magazine.
“We already have ideas to make next year even more enticing!”