Mardi Gras 2018 Wrap up

What a wonderful and entertaining evening at our Annual Mardi Gras Casino Night Fundraiser! We raffled away gifts, enjoyed live music from the David Givens Band and gambled a little! On behalf of Waukegan Main Street we truly thank all of our table sponsors, donations and more importantly YOU the community for continuing to support our organization! We also would like to thank our Event Sponsor Tap Room Gaming and the entire team at the Glen Flora Country Club for outstanding service and food! Special thanks to Ace Rodriguez for our 2018 Mardi Gras video and Laura Rodriguez for great photos!! Photos can be found on our Facebook page! Thanks Waukegan and we’ll see you soon for Lunch With The Mayor

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

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!

WMS workshop 5
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

Natl Main St Workshop 11 16


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!


Join us for our Annual Meeting!

WMS Annual Meeting 2017_trimmedJoin us for our annual meeting on Wednesday, September 27th in the Council Chambers at City Hall!

Along with a buffet lunch, networking time and Board elections, we are hosting keynote speaker Dionne Baux who is the Director of Urban Programs.

Interior-Picture----Dionne-FULLAs Director of Urban Programs, Dionne leads the initiative to broaden the Center’s offerings and engagement in urban neighborhood commercial districts. Dionne has over a decade of experience in project coordination in the fields of urban economic development and commercial district revitalization. She has extensive expertise engaging community stakeholders, identifying and implementing projects in conjunction with community based organizations, government institutions, and real estate development, as well as supporting capacity building opportunities.

Previously, Dionne served as Senior Program Officer for Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Chicago where she managed economic development initiatives for the Chicago office, developed and led the award winning Business District Leadership program and the nationally recognized Smart Communities demonstration. Dionne also served as a Financial Planning Analyst for the City of Chicago’s Department of Community Development. Dionne holds a master’s degree in public administration from Roosevelt University and a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The annual meeting is $17 for Main Street members and $20 for non-members.  Registration starts at 11am, buffet lunch at 11:15, and presentations at 11:45.

City Hall is located at 100 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.  Metered street parking is available or you may use the parking structure at County and Clayton Streets.

We look forward to having you join us at the meeting and in all our future projects!

September ArtWauk Sizzles in the Main Street District

Downtown Waukegan will be BUSY during September ArtWauk on Saturday, September 16th from 5pm – 10pm!  Along with fantastic art displays in the galleries and shops, four special events are taking place.

First, Mayor Sam Cunningham invites everyone to the first Mayor’s Blues Night, a free Blues show with two stages and six bands from Chicago, the home of the Blues.  The main stage for the event is Stern’s Plaza, 37 S. Genesee Street and the secondary stage is Madison Street Courtyard, 111 N. Genesee Street.  Bring a lawn chair to sit and watch – or get up and move to the groove!

blues night poster 2017


The next special event is Cafe Cultura Arte Summer Nights, a food truck festival with a twist.  Brought to ArtWauk by the hard work of The Chunky Scones, the fest includes music, dancing, food, and art.  Music by (((SONORAMA))).  Food vendors include:  The Chunky SconesSte MartaenBravo Vegan TamalesSimon Brews & Bake, The Tiny Vegan , and  The Bird and the Bear.  Art vendors include:  JAQUI ARTEMosaicoArteMojoOwlBodega 18, and La Carnalita.  Eat, dance, enjoy art, eat, dance, buy art, eat, dance, enjoy!

food truck fest 2017

And, since you’re eating good, think about bringing non-perishable food items for Catholic Charities’ Hunger Auction Food Drive.  The food pantry needs to be stocked and you can help.  Non-perishables and financial donations are greatly appreciated.

hunger action food drive for catholic charities copy


Topping off the “above the bluff” fun is Shredfest 2017, in and around The Burgundy Room at 215 Washington Street.  Shredfest is a 100% DIY celebration of skateboarding art, music, and culture. It is open to skateboarders of all ages, genders, and abilities-EVERYONE is welcome.  If you want to set up a table to sell your crafts, photos, records, skateboards, or whatever DIY stuff you’re into-bring it on! BYO table. This is NOT the kind of event you go to and WATCH – it’s the kind of event you go to to PARTICIPATE! Some come out and skate, cook, rock out, sell stuff, take pictures, show your videos, make new friends, see old ones, and be a part of a truly unique night! The fun kicks off at 5-9pm with Free Skate; Jazz Alley Art Show; BBQ; DJ’s; and PHOTO CONTEST!  It continues with LIVE ROCK from 9pm-2am inside The Burgundy Room for those 21+.   

Shredfest 9 16 17


Now, if all of those activities are not enough to tingle your senses, The Harbor’s Edge and Greater Waukegan Development Coalition are hosting Fiestas at the Harbor at 175 N. Harbor Place directly east of downtown.  Fiestas at the Harbor will feature bands from Mexico, ballet folklorico, and Grito, a re-enactment of the battle for Mexican independence which will take place at 7:45 on Friday, September 15th.  Fiestas at the Harbor runs Friday, September 15th through Sunday, September 17th.

Fiestas at Harbors Edge 9 15 16 17

We would love your feedback on these events as well as any suggestions you may have for new events in our Main Street District.

It’s Our 10th Wine & Art Stroll!

Wine and Art Stroll is one of Waukegan Main Street’s premiere annual events in the downtown Main Street District.  This year’s event is Saturday, August 26th from 5 to 9pm, with registration starting at 4:45 pm in Jack Benny Plaza.  Jack Benny Plaza is located at the southwest corner of Clayton and Genesee Streets, with easy parking on the street (free after 5pm!) and in Parking Lot B to the west of the Plaza.

David Givens and his talented friends return this year to set the mood for the evening and will provide a musical backdrop to the event.

David Givens at WAS

WMS WAS 8 26 17

Ticket prices are $22 for Waukegan Main Street members and $25 for the general public – and you may either buy in advance or walk-up on the day of the event.  You will be required to show an ID at the check-in tables, so be prepared.  What do you get for that ticket price?  You’ll receive a Wine and Art Stroll souvenir glass, a $10 gift certificate to use at any merchant in our Main Street District, a wrist band indicating you’re old enough to legally drink, and a program of participating locations with map.

All participating locations will have tasting beverages  and many supply snacks to complement their wine offerings.  Some stops will may also have beer or non-alcoholic choices and others supply activities for kids … or kids at heart.

The weather forecast says mostly sunny with a high of 75 degrees, perfect for strolling in and out of shops, galleries and restaurants on Genesee Street.

Come out and celebrate 10 years with us!

Three Brothers Theatre Expands

Three Brothers Theatre is busy and booming!  In addition to their original storefront theatre space at 115 N. Genesee Street, they have taken over the former Clockwise Theatre space at 221 N. Genesee Street, about one block north.  The bigger space will allow for more extravagant sets and a larger audience.  Their formula is to stage a production in the original Three Brothers Theatre space one month and the new Three Brothers Theatre Upstage space the next month.

Coming up in August is “Betty’s Summer Vacation”,  an absurd comedy dealing with a lot of serious subjects, according to the Lake County News-Sun’s recent write up.  The play premieres at Three Brothers Theatre Upstage on Friday, August 4th at 8pm.  The show runs Fridays and Saturdays through August 26th.



Three Brothers Theatre is a theatre community founded on inclusion, opportunity, and growth and we will carry that mission throughout all of our theaters or venues.

Waukegan Band is a “Community Treasure”!

WBF from the back

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.