Vista Health System Waukegan Criterium Hits the Streets Friday!


The inaugural Vista Health System Waukegan Criterium hits the streets of downtown Waukegan Friday, July 18th with multiple amateur bicycle racing categories followed by professional men’s and women’s racing and a popular kids’ race in the early evening.  The pace car leading the racers on the course will be provided by Classic Scion of Waukegan. Vista Health System is both the title sponsor and health care partner for the event.

“The Criterium and Block Party are a great way for the City to bring together residents, businesses, visitors and the bicycle racing community in a summer festival setting,” said Ron Oesterlein, Executive Director of City of Waukegan Chamber of Commerce.
The Criterium is a short course bike race with the planned route of Genesee Street north to Clayton Street, east to Sheridan Road, south to Water Street and back north on Genesee.  Men’s  and women’s categories ranging from amateur and professional to masters will take place all day, from 10:50am to 8:00pm. One afternoon highlight will be informal children’s races that Oesterlein called “almost the best part of the whole event,” with features like 4- and 5-year-olds doing a 200-yard sprint and 10- and 11-year-olds completing a single circuit.

The Downtown Summer Block Party will take place at the southwest corner of Sheridan Road and Clayton Street from 3:00pm to 11:00pm. “The Block Party is located inside the race course so people can easily watch the fast-paced race while enjoying the festivities,” said Jane Ferry, Executive Director of Waukegan Main Street.  “The Block Party will have family-friendly activities, food, and vendors, with local band, Angry Squirrels, taking the stage at 7:00pm.”

All related fun aside organizers say the big draw will be the sight of professional athletes whipping through the downtown area at speeds that would be illegal for a four-wheeled vehicle.

“It’s very explosive, very exciting,” Oesterlein said. “People are always amazed when they come and watch it for the first time. It’s a really high-energy experience, and really one of the most spectator-friendly sports there is, partly because the racers keep coming by every minute.”

For more information on the Vista Health System Waukegan Criterium, visit

Media Contact: Ron Oesterlein, (847) 623-6800,

Related links:,,

Eye Menagerie at ArtWauk


“Eye Menagerie”, a photographic art show by Nicole Romany, will open at Sidecar Studios on Saturday, June 21, 2014. The opening reception will be from 5-9 PM. Sidecar Studios is one of the new galleries at the historic Karcher Lofts, 405 Washington Street, Waukegan. Nicole is the featured artist at Sidecar for this month’s ArtWauk in downtown Waukegan.

Nicole Romany has a unique perspective on her approach to photography. “ I see every picture as a forgotten object.  It is something that we may see every day but because we are so accustomed to it, we take it for granted, thus it becomes ‘forgotten’. My work is a way to rediscover the world around us.”

Nicole’s work will be on exhibit at Sidecar Studios until July 11th.

Check out more ArtWauk information here!  And check out the show’s coverage in the Lake County News-Sun here!.

Video Waukegan!


Waukegan is enjoying being highlighted through the video creativity of both Visit Lake County, one of the talented artists at Karcher Artspace in our downtown and our own executive assistant.

Have you taken your own video highlighting the good, evolving, on-the-upswing Waukegan?  If so, post it on our Facebook page or send us a link.  We’re enjoy sharing good news about our downtown and the community.

Visit Lake County video – while the video is highlighting all of Lake County, check out the stops in Waukegan!

Artist David Carter’s video – one beautiful Saturday in Waukegan.

WMS staffer Juan Garcia’s video – one chilly ArtWauk (in Spanish).

Waukegan Public Library Summer Reading Club


Our award-winning Waukegan Public Library has Summer Reading Club to keep you in books all summer.  The Clubs are for kids and adults and run from June 7th through August 15th.

Kids: keep track of the number of hours you read at your reading level and you can choose a prize after you read 10 hours!  Sign up is in the Children’s Department.

Adults: after each book you read, you will be entered into a raffle for prizes.  Read five books and receive a USB flash drive – and be entered to win a grand prize!  Sign up at the Reference Desk.


Volunteer Here! Volunteer Now!


Waukegan Main Street is looking for a lot of volunteers this summer for a variety of events. A smattering of those events are …

CLC Lakeshore Campus Courtyard Activities, Saturdays 10am – 2pm: this is a good volunteer opportunity for families, teens and adults

ArtWauk ambassador, third Saturday of every month 5 – 7:30pm: this is a good volunteer opportunity for teens and adults

Genesee ambassador, show nights only, one hour before the show starts: this is a good volunteer opportunity for older teens and adults who enjoy socializing

Scoop Genesee, Friday July 11th and Saturday July 12th, two hour shifts throughout the event: this is a good volunteer opportunity for adults 21 and older

Criterium Bike Race and Block Party, Friday July 18th 11am – 11pm, two hour shifts throughout the event: this is a good volunteer opportunity for older teens and adults

Wine and Art Stroll, Saturday July 26th 5 – 8pm: this is a good volunteer opportunity for adults

Click here to fill out our volunteer application.

Do you have contact with Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops? Are you in charge of coordinating group volunteer activities? Call the office at (847) 623-6650 and talk to Juan or Jane! We’re looking for you!


Waukegan Park District Wants You!


The Waukegan Park District has a part-time position available called a Communications Coordinator. It is essentially a writing and communications role and will pay up to $15 per hour depending on education and experience.

The Community Relations Communications Coordinator will:

  • Promote Waukegan Park District programs, facilities and services and communicate their value and benefits to the public through print and electronic media. Communicate with residents to attract and engage their use and participation in programs, facilities, and services.
  • Create written materials to inform the public and promote Waukegan Park District activities and programs including but not limited to press releases, quarterly magazine articles, newsletters, brochures, social media postings.
  • Research and write articles and stories; assemble and/or coordinate information; and assist other staff to develop articles, stories, and other written materials.
  • Manage the creation and distribution of a District bimonthly electronic newsletter.
  • Oversee the placement of newspaper ads.
  • Create and send Constant Contact emails to promote programs, facilities, and events using Constant Contact.
  • Update and maintain the District’s website including the quarterly calendar. Coordinate with others to keep information current and up to date.
  • Share information to public promotional sites and news media.


  • Bachelor’s degree in creative writing, journalism, communication preferred


  • Minimum two (2) year work experience in communication, journalism, electronic media
  • Demonstrated skills in journalistic-style & ad copy writing, digital photography, social media and web design/maintenance.

Contact Theodora (Teddy) Anderson, Manager, Community Relations at 847-360-4726 or

Waukegan Park District Annual Fishing Derby Set For June 7th



WAUKEGAN, IL – The Waukegan Park District Annual Fishing Derby will be held on Saturday, June 7, 2014 at the pond in Bevier Park. This annual event is always scheduled on a “free fishing day” as declared by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, a day when state fishing licenses are not required. Prior to the Derby, Bevier is stocked with several hundred pounds of catfish.

Great prizes are awarded according to age categories for the largest fish caught.  Pre-registration is encouraged and day of event registration begins at 7:30am.  The cost varies based on age. Check in for pre-registered participants begin at 7:00 am. For more information, please call 847-360-4700.

About the Waukegan Park District
Established on December 26, 1916, the district has 47 properties and 720 acres of land, including the 18-hole Bonnie Brook and 9-hole Greenshire Golf Courses. Properties are managed to the highest environmental and conservation standards. Facilities operated by the district include the Field House Sports and Fitness Center, the Jack Benny Center for the Arts, the Waukegan SportsPark, the Waukegan Skate Park, the Waukegan BMX Track, recreational centers, an outdoor swimming pool, disc golf course, dog exercise area, outdoor sports fields, picnic areas, playgrounds, and sports courts including basketball and tennis. A full range of programs and services are offered year round for all ages, from infants to seniors as well as special needs populations. Healthy lifestyles, wellness initiatives, and a connection with the outdoors and nature are integrated throughout programs, services, and special events. Cultural events are provided by the Waukegan Symphony Orchestra and Concert Chorus, the Bowen Park Theatre Company, and the Waukegan History Museum. There is something for everyone! The award-winning District employs 57 full-time and over 250 part-time, year round, seasonal, and temporary employees. The District is a member of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD), and Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA). The district maintains national accreditation from the NRPA Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA), the Illinois Association of Park Districts’ (IAPD) Distinguished Agency accreditation and the Park District Risk Management Agency (PDRMA) accreditation and sustains a Level A Loss Control Program. The district was a NRPA Gold Medal Finalist in 2012 and 2013, and awarded the NRPA National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management in 2013.

Contact:         Theodora Anderson

Community Relations

Waukegan Park District

(847) 360-4726

2013 Fishing Derby Photos


Only two words convey the meaning of Memorial Day …

… and they are, “Thank you.”

memorial day 2

Memorial Day is a federal holiday set aside for remembering the men and women who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. Our thanks go out to the City of Waukegan and Lloyd Cunningham, Senior Vice Commander, American Legion Post 281 for the coordination of our parade and program.

This year the crowds lining Genesee and Washington Streets were bigger and more lively than in the past few years.  More people also stayed for the service in Veterans Memorial Plaza.  Speakers included Senator Dick Durbin, Congressman Brad Schneider, Dave Marion on behalf of Mayor Wayne Motley, and Colonel Troy L. Douglas, Commander 3rd BDE, USACC from Great Lake Naval Station.  To a person each talked about the ultimate sacrifice made for our freedom, but also that their families across the area and around the country made a sacrifice, too.  While we honor the service person, the family honors and misses their son, daughter, brother, sister, father, or mother.  Powerful.

Regimental Commander – Waukegan JROTC, Cadet Colonel Fernando Tovar gave the Gettysburg Address followed by the placing of the wreaths by American Legion Post 281 Auxiliary and Gold Star Parents Mr. and Mrs. Steve Martin.  After the rifle salute, Waukegan JROTC Cadet Antonio Torres played Taps as the solemn crowd stood almost perfectly still.  No one moved until after Benediction was given and then it seemed we were a humbled group.

memorial day 3

Enjoy your families, barbecues and parties, but never forget the reason for the holiday.  And the  tables around the country with an empty seat.

Great Lakes Water Safety Class


June 1-7 is National Beach Safety Week and Rip Current Awareness Week. The Illinois Coastal Management Program is partnering with the City of Waukegan and  Chicago Park District to raise awareness about dangerous currents to help prevent drownings.  When more people are educated on water safety, less people drown.

Great Lakes Water Safety Class: The class consists of a 1 to 1.5 hour PowerPoint presentation and 1 to 1.5 hour beach and water presentation.  The classes are designed for the average beach goers, surfers, lifeguards, police officers, fire fighters, paramedics, water rescue team members, dive team members, and the U.S. Coast Guard.  Class is Sunday, June 1st at 8:30 at Waukegan Yacht Club. Click here to register.  Or visit the Facebook Event to RSVP and invite your friends and family.


The Great Lakes have had 337 drownings occur in the last four years, many of them occurring in Lake Michigan.  Hazardous currents are a large contributor to this statistic.  In addition to wind patterns, structures in the water, such as a break wall or pier, can alter the normal flow to cause rip currents.  Many people who enjoy the beaches in Illinois don’t realize that these potentially life-threatening currents exist – even when the water looks relatively calm.  Drownings due to these hazardous currents can be prevented if people know what to do and don’t panic.


The Great Lakes Governors and the Premiers of Ontario and Québec today proclaimed June 1-7 “Beach Safety Awareness Week.”

Dangerous currents and other water hazards continue to pose a significant danger to swimmers, boaters and others enjoying the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. Lifeguards and others must save people from dangerous currents each year. Tragically, many lives continue to be lost despite these rescue efforts.

Governor Pat Quinn, co-chair of the Council of Great Lakes Governors, said, “People come from all over the world to take advantage of our beaches, fish in our lakes, and enjoy all that the lakes have to give.  Unfortunately, dangerous currents and other water hazards continue to needlessly claim lives each year. In 2013, at least 68 people died in the Great Lakes, most of them in Lake Michigan.”

In June 2013 the Great Lakes Governors and Premiers announced the region’s first-ever Beach Safety Awareness Week. Since that time, they have been individually and together leading aggressive efforts to improve water safety. The shared goal is to protect people from dangerous currents and other hazards associated with high winds and waves. Research, information and education campaigns, and hazard reduction are all parts of these efforts.

Mobile phone users are encouraged to use the “myBeachCast” app available at This app, developed by the Great Lakes Commission, integrates location, weather and beach hazard information for more than 1,800 beaches to help identify where there may be dangerous conditions. A beach safety information card is also available.

ArtWauk: Art of Containment at Dinosaur Studio Tattoo



Some people would take a bad fall as the opportunity to slow down and recuperate, but award-winning artist Jeff Baenen researched and hand carved a multi-level box out of seven feet of black walnut.  “While out walking I noticed the beauty of a spine from remains of deer,” said Baenen, who had been doing anatomy studies since fracturing his sacrum. “All of this together inspired me to do the five tier box called “Vertebrae”.”  “Vertebrae” recently took first place in the Open Category and won the overall People’s Choice Award at the 2013-2014 Woodworking Show in Milwaukee.  The artist will bring this award-winning piece, along with a variety of his other hand-crafted boxes, to Dinosaur Studio Tattoo at 116 S. Genesee Street for ArtWauk on May 17th.

Baenen has been a featured artist at previous ArtWauks. “There is such a feeling of community and appreciation from fellow artists at ArtWauk that I was inspired to design a new box.  My “Aspire” boxes where a direct result of being involved with the ArtWauk,” said Baenen.  Even though he has been involved in exhibits and had other shows, the artist suggests ArtWauk is unique because “…I am able to interact with people in way I just can’t when my work is behind glass.”  The boxes are visual and tactile art and he appreciates knowing his boxes will become a family heirloom.  “I take great pride in how I finish the boxes and love for people to touch and hold them … just don’t drop them,” he added.

Before making boxes Baenen sketched, painted, and did pointillism.  “Anything I could do involving creating something.  When I purchased my house the creation process turned into a restoration process and I loved it.  Working with your hands gives one the greatest sense of accomplishment,” he said.  He started box making about nine years ago when a coworker and friend asked if he would make a box to hold a 100 year old family bible.  “I jumped at the chance and the wheels started turning.  I have been hooked ever since.”  Baenen set a goal for himself to become one of the top box makers in the United States.  “Those goals are what keeps me always wanting to learn something new,” Baenen said.  “The funny thing in box making is that “learning something new” usually means researching some method that was used 100+ years ago.”

As he works on his boxes, Baenen writes about the creation process, which usually starts with the story of how it began and where the idea came from.  “I have done boxes to celebrate family, love and death.  I can honestly say, for me, the most emotional triggering boxes I have created are the urns.  To sit down with a family and listen to how much they loved this person, the stories of their life, how they lived, how they loved.  To take all that and put it into a box is very moving,” he said.  One of the urns he created, called “Ashes to Ashes, Sawdust to Sawdust”, was for an uncle who shared the same passion toward the art of woodworking and would teach Baenen new methods he just learned.  “He had so much to offer me in knowledge, but was taken too early.  Knowing his love for woodworking I lined the urn with 220 sandpaper.”

Baenen is working on five new boxes for the May ArtWauk. “I’m thrilled to have Jeff return to ArtWauk,” said Mark Hoffmann, owner of Dinosaur Studio Tattoo.  “His work is unique.  People always want to touch his boxes or take them apart.  And Jeff is always willing to share the stories behind the boxes and his techniques.”  Hoffmann, who has a BFA in Illustration, often tattoos clients during ArtWauk.  “Like Jeff, I like to have the chance to demonstrate and explain my art to people.”

ArtWauk, on third Saturday of every month in downtown Waukegan’s Arts & Entertainment District, will be May 17th from 5:00 – 9:00pm.

About Dinosaur Studio Tattoo
Dinosaur Studio Tattoo has been open for three year in the burgeoning South Genesee corridor. Their philosophy is that tattoos are 50% illustrations and 50% Graphic design. Mark Hoffmann and his team of artists have degrees in art and illustration as well as being professional tattoo artists. Dinosaur Studio’s artists provide only custom dermagraphic illustrations designed specifically for an individual. In addition their art gallery has been the back-drop for numerous talented artists and book release celebrations.  They are located at 116 S. Genesee Street and open noon-8pm, Tuesday-Saturday.

About Jeff Baenen
Jeff Baenen fell in love with the fine art of box making over nine years ago. The beauty of a box can really only be limited by one’s imagination and he strives to push the boundaries of the art. This award-winning artist likes his pieces to challenge a person’s thought process and believes his boxes should be a functional sculptural piece at the same time. It is an object that will draw attention to itself and start conversations.

Media Contacts: Mark Hoffmann, 847-599-8286 and Jeff Baenen, 847-331-0756