Official Tree Lighting-Music to Our Ears

Lee England, Jr. Plays for Hometown Crowd

First, a big THANK YOU to everyone who participated in our Official Tree Lighting in Jack Benny Plaza in downtown Waukegan on December 2nd!  Wow!  What a night, what a turnout, what a good time.

If you missed it, here are some the highlights:

The Waukegan Park District kicked off the fun with a Winter Wonder Walk around downtown.  The Walk was part of their Go Waukegan initiative to get Waukeganites up, moving and healthier!

 

 

Judith Garcia – Realtor supplied hot chocolate to the crowd from her table in Urban Edge.  She was incredibly busy. We were glad to have caught this picture before the mad rush!

 

 

 

 

Dawn Simerly, City of Waukegan Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, helped people decorate ornaments in Urban Edge.  She then wrapped the ornaments beautifully so they could be given as gifts.  People, especially children, enjoyed displaying their creativity.

Holiday coloring pages were also available to children.  The kids could hang their completed works in the windows or take them home.

 

 

Santa Claus sat at the Genesee Theatre for pictures  during the late afternoon and evening.  Earlier in the day, Santa walked around downtown, waving at cars and taking selfies with families going to the “Garfield Christmas”, also at the Genesee.

Outside, the crowd grew with anticipation as Mayor Sam Cunningham led the countdown to tree lighting then ceremoniously flipped the switch!

 

 

 

 

And finally, internationally acclaimed, Waukegan born and raised Lee England Jr. entertained the crowd of over 300 with holiday tunes, including “Jingle Bells‘ where he invited everyone to singalong. 

 

We already have ideas for next year!  Join us on Saturday, December 1st, 2018.  Explore Waukegan.  Join the fun in downtown Waukegan. #ExploreWaukegan

<span style="font-family: georgia, palatino, serif; font-size: 8pt;">Left to Right: Waukegan Main Street: Board Member and Promotions Chair Anton Mathews, Board President Tamika Jones, Executive Director Arthur Cobb, Jr.</span>
Left to Right: Waukegan Main Street: Board Member and Promotions Chair Anton Mathews, Board President Tamika Jones, Executive Director Arthur Cobb, Jr.

Community Transformation Workshop a Success!

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Photo credit: Jamie O’Meara

Nearly 50 Main Street American professionals from city across the United States participated in a hands-on workshop in Waukegan last week, as day two of a three day intensive workshop. The day spent in town concentrated on the economic impact of real estate development in revitalization. Donovan Rypkema of PlaceEconomics, an internationally renowned expert in real estate and economic development, led the instructional sessions focused on various modeling, analyses and tools used to evaluate and predict the results of new incentives in specific conditions, determine feasibility of real estate acquisition and development of historic properties, and drive strategic decisions for vacant property.

WMS workshop 2
Photo credit: Jamie O’Meara

The group toured the downtown, calculated the cost of an empty building and participants were given advanced tools and strategies to address complex revitalization projects and initiatives with a strong emphasis on Economic Vitality.  Emphasizing the importance of partnerships and collaboration, this format provides a learning environment that draws upon the experience and expertise of both the instructors and the participants.

The group enjoyed lunch and a post-workshop networking session at 17 North.

 

Waukegan is a longtime Main Street community.  Main Street America has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts for more than 35 years. Today it is a network of more than 1,600 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, Inc., a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Community Transformation Workshop

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Waukegan Main Street will be the host of a Day 2 of the Community Transformation Workshop offered by the Main Street America Institute.  The Community Transformation Workshop is an intensive, interactive three-day experience,  filled with educational sessions and exercises aimed to provide participants with advanced tools and strategies to address complex revitalization projects and initiatives through the lens of the refreshed Main Street Approach, with a strong emphasis on Economic Vitality.

Day 2 will concentrate on the economic impact of real estate development in revitalization.  Donovan Rypkema, Principal, PlaceEconomics  and an internationally renowned expert in real estate and economic development, will lead the instructional sessions focused on various modeling, analyses and tools.  These tools are used to evaluate and predict the results of new incentives in specific conditions, determine feasibility of real estate acquisition and development of historic properties, and drive strategic decisions for vacant property. Waukegan is a longtime Main Street community and the instructor and participants will take on a hands-on assignment in which they will apply concepts learned during the morning session.

Join us in welcoming the group to the City of Waukegan!

 

Waukegan Band is a “Community Treasure”!

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The Waukegan Band is back for its 82nd season of providing free, quality music to Waukegan and the surrounding area.  This season is entitled “Community Treasure” and will feature at least two concerts with special guests.  The first concert of the season featured the Milwaukee Festival Brass, an award-winning brass ensemble using traditional British Brass Band instruments, and had an audience of over 350 people.

The Waukegan Band announced that the US Navy Band Great Lakes will perform in a joint concert with the Waukegan Band on Tuesday, June 27th at 7:30pm at the Stiner Pavilion at Waukegan Beach  The US Navy Band Great Lakes will be directed by Senior Chief Daniel Bethel, US Navy Director while the Waukegan Band will be directed by Dr. Mark A. Taylor. The combined concert will foster relationships between the US Navy Band Great Lakes and the local community.

US Navy Band Great Lakes

The concert theme is “American Masterworks” and will feature music selections by American composers and will include patriotic themes by each band as well as joint selections by both combined bands. Joint selections will include a unique medley of service songs from the various branches of the military, as well as Carmen Dragon’s arrangement of “America the Beautiful” and John Philip Sousa’s “The Glory of the Yankee Navy.”

US Navy Band Great Lakes celebrated 100 years of “Pride in Service” in 2011. From its first performance in July 1911, to Lieutenant Commander John Philip Sousa’s 300-piece Bluejacket Band, to today’s continuing mission of representing Commander, Naval Service Training Command, the band enjoys a rich history of serving the Sailors and citizens of the Midwest with pride and distinction.

With the exception of July 4th, the Waukegan Band presents a FREE outdoor concert every Tuesday at 7:30pm from June 13th through August 8th. All performances are at Stiner Pavilion overlooking the harbor and beach. Many of the concert goers have mentioned the beauty of the site, great music and free parking.

Bring a lawn chair, picnic, friends and family – and relax in comfort on the beautiful lakefront while listening to the music of local Lake County musicians.

 

Volunteer Workshop “Totally Worth It”

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Anthony Rubano from Illinois Historic Preservation Agency addresses the Volunteer Workshop attendees.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and Illinois Main Street, along with the Waukegan Main Street and Donna Ann Harris the principal of Heritage Consulting Inc., hosted aVolunteer Recruitment and Retention Strategies” Workshop at Urban Edge in May.

The workshop attracted managers, executive directors and volunteer coordinators from non-profits throughout Lake County, northern Cook County and Kenosha County.  Organizations represented included Waukegan Park District, Habitat for Humanity Lake County, Downtown Kenosha, United Way of Lake County, Lake County Bike Project, GWDC, Words on Wheels, Waukegan Township, Waukegan Arts Council, HACES, City of Evanston, Kenosha Chamber, Waukegan Port District, and several Illinois Main Streets.

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Waukegan Mayor Wayne Motley and Volunteer Workshop leader Donna Harris address workshop attendees. The Mayor also participated in the program.

The lively five-hour workshop focused on the basics of working with volunteers, including the “Three R’s of Volunteers” – recruiting, retaining and recognizing them. After an examination of useful techniques for volunteer recruitment, the 40 participants discussed the importance of volunteer orientation, training, and leadership opportunities for any nonprofit organization. “The workshop gave me additional tools and ideas around volunteering and that made coming to the event totally worth it,” said one participant. The day wrapped up with a discussion of volunteer alternatives, including using small task forces to engage more people in an organization’s work.

Workshop highlights included:

  • Learning how to plan the organization’s work using volunteers
  • Discussing recent research about why people volunteer, and the three basic recruitment techniques that can be used in any nonprofit organization
  • Training techniques to assure that you retain your volunteer(s) and manage them well
  • Learning how to emphasize the need for a work plan, volunteer descriptions and high quality supervision to ensure success.

“I am honored to be the ambassador for the Illinois Main Street program,” Lieutenant Governor Sanguinetti said. “This workshop provided valuable information that will help nonprofits grow and succeed while also expanding the Illinois economy. A thriving and innovative nonprofit sector is critical to fulfilling the potential of our great state.”

Background

The State of Illinois has participated in the Main Street program for more than 20 years and currently has 37 designated communities with 1 new community scheduled to be designated in June.  A recent sample of participating organizations disclosed that Illinois Main Street downtowns completed more than 396 construction projects, opened over 149 new businesses and created more than 843 jobs during 2014.

Illinois Main Street is an historic preservation-based economic development program that applies the comprehensive Main Street Four Point Approach® to the revitalization of Illinois’ downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts. Developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Main Street approach focuses on four key tenets: Organization, Design, Promotion, and Economic Restructuring.

Nationally, Main Street communities and their local programs have created nearly 915,000 jobs and represent public and private reinvestment of over $48 billion.

F.I.S.T. Turns Six!

Former Inmates Striving Together (F.I.S.T.) celebrates six years of assisting ex-offenders successfully reintegrate into society.  F.I.S.T. is an organization of formerly incarcerated men and women drawing on experiences and focusing their energy on this task.  Early on, F.I.S.T. worked diligently to secure volunteer positions for their group; now, they are booked well in advance by the organizations and entities such as City of Waukegan, Waukegan Main Street, PADS, and Waukegan Park District.

This year’s celebration, slated for May 3rd, will include comedian Mike Preston and the annual food tasting competition.  The competition allows restaurants to present samples of their menu.  Some of the participating restaurants include Spice, Key Lime Cove, Momcorn, Fong’s, The Lasagna Shop, The Hass Bakery and El Famous Burrito, while others are finalizing their plans.

This year’s Keynote Address will be presented by Chief Jennifer Witherspoon, President of Lake County NAACP.  Featured Speaker, Richard Van Arsdale III, will give his testimony regarding his struggles with re-entry.  State Representative Rita Mayfield is also on the program.  Awards will be presented by Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim and the F.I.S.T. Annual scholarship, sponsored by First Light Bible Study Group at Joy! Lutheran Church, will be presented by Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Allen J. Lynch.

F.I.S.T. has steadily worked to provide what ex-offenders need to support their re-entry. Over the past three years, F.I.S.T. has: opened a Resource Center; provided over 200 winter coats to newly released inmates; mentored its members on life skills and employment; created a 12-step program for ex-offenders; set up S.T.E.E.P. entrepreneur program; established independent housing for men/women; started a thrift store; re-opened the Waukegan Beach Concession stand; and overseen many community service projects. These community service projects have included rehabbing of churches and a parsonage;, building a elementary school recreation site; Waukegan parade and event clean-up; helping to tend the City’s planters in the downtown area with Waukegan Main Street; and assisting PADS.

The celebration will be held at Gurnee Holiday Inn and Conference Center on May 3rd from 2:00 to 5:00 PM and is FREE and open to the public.


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“Constant State of Panic” Midwest Premiere

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PATRICK GABRIDGE’S  CONSTANT STATE OF PANIC 
MIDWESTERN PREMIERE AT CLOCKWISE THEATRE

Constant State of Panic, Patrick Gabridge’s darkly comic love story on the challenges of holding a marriage together amidst the uncertainties of the New Millennium, is receiving its Midwestern premiere, Friday, April 17th at Waukegan’s Clockwise Theatre. The production runs through Sunday, May 10th.

An edgy funhouse ride blurring the lines between reality and fantasy and boasting exciting stage special effects, Constant State of Panic  follows David and Sonia Tamzeh as they confront fear-mongering reporters, menacing Bible ladies, invasive government agents, circling helicopters, advancing armies and more!

Jeff Award-winning Richard Shavzin directs, with a cast featuring Michael Wollner (Lake Villa) and Nicholia Aguirre (Evanston), Megan Skord Campbell (Lake Zurich), and Clockwise company member Christopher Davis (Chicago).

Patrick Gabridge is the author of the plays  Pieces of Whitey, Distant Neighbors, Reading the Mind of God, and Hearing Voices. His work has been broadcast on NPR and other stations across the U.S. Mr. Gabridge co-founded the Chameleon Stage Theatre Company in Denver, the Rhombus Playwrights’ Group in Boston, the online Playwright Marketing Binge, as well as the publication,  Market InSight for Playwrights. Mr. Gabridge’s published novels include  Moving: A Life in Boxes and Tornado Siren.

Richard Shavzin directed the world premieres of Defamation, Tops or Bottoms, Persistence of Vision and  Fallout.  He won a Jeff for his Strawdog Theatre direction of Burn This, and directed the Jeff-nominated productions of Criminal Hearts, Cat’s-Paw, The Big Funk, A Mother, A Daughter and A Gun, Skeletons, and  Hurlyburly. Mr. Shavzin serves on the Council of Actors Equity and on the National Board of Directors of SAG-AFTRA, and is a member of Clockwise Theatre’s artistic advisory board.

Constant State of Panic runs April 17th through May 10th, Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 3PM. Tickets are $20 and may be purchased here, by calling Brown Paper Tickets at 1-800-838-3006, or at the door. Group rates (10 or more, pre-paid) are available.

Clockwise Theatre is located at 221 N. Genesee Street in downtown Waukegan. Ample, free on-street parking is available. For more information, visit Clockwise Theatre.

Winners of First Dandelion Gallery Juried Show Announced

Immediate Release         

Dandelion Gallery is pleased to announce the winners of its First Juried Show. Twenty eight artists were accepted to this inaugural event which opened last Saturday March 21 during the fourth anniversary of ArtWauk in downtown Waukegan’s arts and entertainment district.  The juried show also celebrated the fourth anniversary of Dandelion Gallery.

First place was awarded to Erick Anderson. He will be the featured artist at Dandelion Gallery at a future ArtWauk and received a one year membership to the gallery.  Second place was awarded to Lorinda Murphy. She received a three month membership to the gallery.  Third place was awarded to Darlene Bock with a one month gallery membership.  Honorable mentions were given to Mike Litewski, Gary G, Sue Thomson and Tom Biegalski.

The winning artists were announced during the opening reception. The juried show exhibit will continue through the April ArtWauk on April 18 and close on May 9.

Dandelion Gallery is located at 109 S. Genesee Street, Waukegan, and is open each ArtWauk, the third Saturday of each month from 5-9 PM.  It is also open by appointment.  For more information, go to www.dandeliongallery.org.

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First Place – Erick Anderson: “Dilapidated Structure”

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Second Place – Lorinda Murphy

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Third Place – Darlene Bock: “Ants”

Are Volunteers Your Lifeblood?

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Then the Volunteer Recruitment and Retention Workshop May 6th in Waukegan is for you!

This lively five-hour workshop will focus on the basics of working with volunteers: how to recruit, retain and recognize them for their hard work for your nonprofit organization. After an examination of three useful techniques for volunteer recruitment, we’ll discuss the importance of volunteer orientation, training, and leadership opportunities. We will wrap up with a discussion of volunteer alternatives, including using small task forces to engage more people in your organization’s work.

This workshop is presented by Illinois Main Street, The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Heritage Consulting, Inc.

For an agenda, workshop leader bio and to register, click here!

Mardi Gras Success!

 

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Waukegan Main Street’s annual Mardi Gras fundraiser was Saturday, February 7th, at Glen Flora Country Club.  Thanks to the Mardi Gras committee and several volunteers who worked diligently on plans, silent auction items, and sponsors, this year was quite an extravaganza.  Returning this year is DJ at Large Christopher Thelen, who provided the music for the New Orleans-style night.

DJ at Large

Glen Flora’s executive chef worked up a Cajun-inspired menu to tantalize the taste buds.  And casino gaming, a $500-prize raffle, tarot card reading by the Divine Miss E, and silent auction were going on throughout the event.  “The casino gaming is always a big hit , especially since we have some local celebrities as dealers” said Jane Ferry, Executive Director of Waukegan Main Street.  “This year the top prizes include a 40″ television donated by Grand Appliance and Bears tickets donated by North Shore Printers.  We are continuously overwhelmed by the generosity of our donors and sponsors.”

SiVer Place

Silent auction items from a variety of donors in the downtown and lakefront – or “Main Street District” – and outside Waukegan started arriving at the Main Street office over the last month. “The silent auction items run the gamut from children’s activity baskets to great outerwear to original artwork to Bears tickets,” said Ferry.  This year’s items have been posted regularly on Main Street’s Facebook page and include  several  ‘experience items’, such as theatre tickets, a tattoo gift certificate, a wine and food pairing at The Terrace at SiVer Place.

“We are lucky enough to have three women who have run the silent auction preparation and day of activities for years return again this year.  It is amazing to watch them create baskets … and sometimes fight over what gift certificate or bottle of wine should go with something.”

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While most of the tickets are pre-sold for the event, walk-ins were welcome. Money raised at the event supports Waukegan Main Street continuing efforts to revitalize downtown Waukegan and the lakefront.  “It’s an entertaining evening, giving people a chance to get dressed on a cold February evening, socialize and enjoy.  As the French say, “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”  #MainStMardiGras