Chicago’s Navy Pier

My childhood memories of Navy Pier were just that, a pier that was cold, dark and gloomy. A pier that was falling apart, in transition, and far from the dazzle we have today. In fact, the last of the World War II generation remembers it as a training ground to fight. Over the decades, Navy Pier has demonstrated a variety of purpose.

Navy Pier was designed as a municipal pier in 1916 and host to a prison for draft dodgers during World War I. It was named Navy Pier in 1927 as a tribute to navy veterans who served in the first World War. In World War II, the pier was used a center to train pilots and according to Navy Pier’s current website, over 200 planes can still be found at the bottom of Lake Michigan. During these training years, tens of thousands of boys that were drafted used the facility and could also exercise in a huge gym, cafeteria and theater for entertainment.

After the war in 1946, Navy Pier hosted students from the University of Illinois for a two year program though they did have to finish their four year degree at the home campus in Champaign/Urbana. Finally to complete a degree at one campus, Chicago’s Circle Campus ( an new annex of the University of Illinois) was born in 1965. At that time, Navy Pier needed a new face lift.

Since the 20th Century, Navy Pier has been transformed into acres of parks, fine dining, fabulous cruises, a ferris wheel that holds 300 people, and much more. As a result of much to do at the Pier and year round events, Navy Pier proudly holds the number one tourist attraction position in the Midwest. Cruises on the Odyssey, Spirit of Chicago and Mystic Blue offer special holiday festivities and great ideas to spend New Years Eve with your loved ones.

Besides taking a cruise, some of the restaurants can provide a great eating experience and waterfront views. Some of the favorites are Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, Big City Chicken, Frankie’s Pizza, and Tiny Tavern where you can stop for a cocktail.

Presently, the Fifth Third Bank is sponsoring Winter Wonderfest at the pier Friday, November 30, 2018 – Sunday, January 6, 2019. featuring 170,000 square feet of carnival rides, giant slides, holiday-themed activities, and Indoor Ice Skating Rink, and more.

Celebrate your Chicago New Year’s Eve. Book your tickets to the 7th Annual Chicago Resolution Gala. The Resolution Gala is the top Chicago New Year’s Eve party going down this year. Every year up to 3,000 guests gather inside of the Grand Ballroom to ring in their New Year. Celebrate your night with food, drinks, a top live DJ, and the perfect intro to 2018 in Chicago!

 

July Fireworks

By CARYL CLEM:

Freedom flashes in blazing red, white, blue fireworks

Celebrating love of family and country

Just as important today as yesterday

Honoring our forefather’s efforts

Produces reverence, acceptance of citizen diversity.

 

All shades of spectators sharing this night in unity

Bound by the values of equality and opportunity.

 

The United States of America, a democratic endeavor

A promise of freedom to endure forever.

 

Star Spangled Banner, waving over the brave and the free

Fanning the desire to maintain our hard won liberty

Gives proof this July 4th night

How future hopes, are unleashed by a fireworks light.

 

Celebrating your independence

Looking back on my Fourth of July’s, the holiday was always consumed with fireworks of some kind and not the emotional ones either.

Fireworks that snapped, crackled, and popped from all locations, just like the famous cereal, and decorated the sky while everyone awed over the commotion each year.

There were celebrations on boats overlooking the Chicago skyline, there were celebrations at the racetrack that delivered piped in music, and there were local small town displays gathered with neighbors on the closest porch or nearest park.

But, wherever the fireworks were presented, it was the ultimate salute to our country’s accomplishment for becoming independent many years ago.

Probably the best memories of the Fourth of July were as children when we couldn’t wait to have Dad light those sparklers that we would carefully parade around the backyard with our family and friends. Dad’s eyes were as bright as the sparklers and we never tired of lighting one after another. We were young and the meaning of the 4th of July was not really about the country, but about us.

Somehow, we were celebrating our own independence, our own accomplishments for that day, month or year. Maybe we had received high marks at the end of the school year or maybe we spent a vacation with our family, not causing an argument with our siblings. Maybe the lilacs we had brought to our teacher in spring lasted longer than a day. Maybe we were just excited that our firefly collection was better than ever before.

Though I would skip the sparklers since they can cause pain and suffering if not properly handled, don’t skip this day to recognize yourself, the measures you have taken to shine, the skyrocketing moments in your life when because of your independent nature, you made a difference.

Maybe you took the first step to resolving a conflict with a co-worker and you developed a new level of respect from others as a result. Maybe you received 100% on your paper in class while working full-time, being a single parent and saying no when you would rather be going to lunch with your friends. Maybe you are still unemployed but sent out 100 resumes last week, courageously called one company after another while avoiding the temptation of the sofa.

The Fourth of July does not have to be just for the patriotic but a day to celebrate your own liberty; moving forward with pride and dignity in who you have become.