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Welcoming Back Summertime Chi

Traditionally, Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer. As we begin the reopening process, this summer kickoff is especially significant.

Soon enough we’ll be getting back to normal, having barbecues in the park, going to day parties for brunch and even getting the thrill back of hanging out with friends and family at  amusement parks. Now with vaccinations taking place, the City of Chicago is starting to rethink the reopening of businesses and is considering letting events take place.

If you’re looking for resources to help plan your summer enjoyment in the city, look to social media because everyone is posting about somewhere they’ve been. Posts are circulating on Instagram about upcoming exhibits and summer events by such sources as Choose Chicago and Chicago Bucket Listers. Choose Chicago is home to some of the articles written by different teams that specialize in areas across the city. Topics on everything from outdoor dining recommendations, art exhibit details, and a guide for things to do around town for tourists and Chicagoans.  This site is a tool for planning a trip to Chicago and planning a weekend in local neighborhoods enjoying music and nightlife. 

There are a number of places that have closed and events that have been canceled recently, but many businesses remain hopeful they will be able to reopen soon. Based on the COVID-19 guideline updates, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is trying to fully reopen the state by July 4. Until then, you can check out places that have decided to open with the proper  precautions and the plans that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has for her new “Open Chicago” Initiative

Museums such as the Art Institute and the Museum of Science and Industry have opened back up with capacity limits and required reservations. Immersive experiences have popped up like the Van Gogh exhibit in Lincoln Park  and Artopia in the West Loop. Festivals are being planned as well as street art fairs and sporting events. 

Make sure to check out the 31 Free Things to Do in Chicago, on, where you can find ways to enjoy a day out on a budget. Between free museums days and cultural attractions, you’ll get more bang for your buck.

Chicago Bucket Listers, on the other hand, has found a way to create a guide for Chicagoans for local events, restaurants, and exhibits within neighborhoods in and outside of the city.  They also have written about the best places to dine outdoors, go see a drive-in movie, immersive exhibits to experience, and to find Black-owned businesses and restaurants. Find out what’s going on now by following them on Instagram and Facebook. 

The City of Chicago is investing money within the arts community throughout the 77 community areas. Arts 77 is a citywide arts recovery and reopening plan representing an initial investment of more than $60 million to support local artists and organizations. 

Programs are being expanded and new ones are being introduced. Neighborhood Access  Program, the Band Roster, and Chicago Presents are just a few of the city’s reopening projects. The purpose of the plan is to help support local artists and organizations as well as supply more jobs for those affected by job loss due to the pandemic. The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, DCASE for short, is heavily involved in this project and accepting ideas and suggestions the public has for new programs.

“We are excited to partner with our sister agencies to expand existing resources. Culture in My Neighborhood and the broader Arts 77 plan will celebrate Chicago’s vibrant culture while fueling public engagement in our communities,” said Michael Kelly, CEO and General Superintendent of the Chicago Park District. “From Austin to West Pullman, our 18 neighborhood cultural centers will continue to serve as important cultural assets for years to come.” 

As part of the Culture in My Neighborhood program, a new collaborative initiative that supports cultural programming at the Chicago Cultural Center plans to reopen to the public in early June. 

Through its 18 Chicago Park District neighborhood cultural centers, and the Chicago Public Library’s regional libraries, the city plans to expand access and participation in the South and West Side neighborhoods that have lacked traditional cultural infrastructure such as museums and theaters. Parents will appreciate the reopening of the park district facilities this summer, giving them a break from virtual school at home. 

“We’re hoping to have more information to share next week about summer events,” said Jamey Lundblad, DCASE’s chief marketing officer. From the sounds of things, anything can happen within the next couple of weeks before summer hits, so prepare for the best and the worst. 

The Taste of Chicago will be back in Grant Park for the summer where restaurants and families get together to enjoy great food. The Taste is among many summer events that are confirmed to take place alongside Pride at the Park, Lollapalooza and other events. The Chicago Tribune reports, some summer festivals have started to schedule plans to continue on while others have decided to cancel. “We’ll be announcing more details for our summer events in early June.” Lundblad said. 

“The arts will be on the leading edge of the city’s reopening as our music clubs, theaters, and festivals come back to life and energize Chicago,” Kelly said. Make sure to give yourself enough time to reserve tickets for future events and check out the lineup for upcoming festivals. 

As the city begins to reopen with more in-person activities for the summer, the City of Chicago urges residents to continue to be safe, social distance, wear their masks when required, and get vaccinated. 

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