sheffield-garden-walkI just love Chicago in the summer. There are so many great events in the neighborhoods, not least of which is Chicago’s Sheffield Garden Walk. I’ve written here before about the joy of gardening in the city, so it should come as no surprise that this weekend-long event ranks high on my list of recommended things to do.

Located in the heart of Lincoln Park, the walk includes gardens within the Sheffield neighborhood, which extends from Halsted west to the Chicago River and from Armitage north to Fullerton.

Taking place on July 17th and 18th, this year’s garden walk offers the chance to visit more than 100 exquisite residential gardens on a self-guided tour. Other activities include guided garden tours given by a landscape professional; live music from national/regional headline groups; a kids’ corner with a petting zoo, pony rides, hands-on activities and food service; and several wonderful dining options.

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It’s almost March 13, the deceptively early date for many of Chicago’s 2010 St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. If you’re looking to get out and enjoy some of the festivities, here are some options to consider.

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FlowersValentine’s Day is almost here, and the City of Big Shoulders shows even bigger heart when it comes to offering up ways to make your February 14th a memorable one. Here are some romantic ideas to consider as you plan your Chicago Valentine’s Day date with your special someone.

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Summer Camp ChicagoWhile winter in Chicago doesn’t inspire thoughts of summer camp for most people, if you want to get your child signed up for some of the city’s many exciting camp programs this coming summer, now is the time to act. Whether you’re looking for a multi-day diversion or a month-long experience, there is something for everyone available. Registration is or soon will be open for most camp programs, and if past years are any indication, most of them will fill up fast. Below is an outline of some of Chicago’s most popular summer camps (though as always, consult the included links for the most up-to-date information).

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Play it Safe at Navy PierI have blogged twice before about fire safety, first after I witnessed a friend’s home sustain significant damage after an electrical appliance caught fire and again after I took my children to a fire station for a tour and safety lesson. Now, I want to follow up to let you know about an important new exhibit about fire safety at the Chicago Children’s Museum on Navy Pier.

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Halloween is almost here again, and as I wrote last year, the holiday’s parades, haunted houses, pumpkin carvings, fun runs, spooky mazes, and other events span more than a single day. Many of these events are cheap (or free), are geared towards children, and don’t involve the ingestion of mass amounts of candy. In others words, they make for good, wholesome family outings.

The Chicago Parks District has a list of all their Halloween offerings, and has a good general summary of city-wide events (though many of the dates still read “TBD”).

For simplicity’s sake, I’ve once again created a Google map made up of all the North Side Halloween events. Use it to find the upcoming events near where you live. Blue markers are Parks District events, red markers are parades, and yellow markers are all other events.

Please click through to the website for each marker to get the most up-to-date information for each event.

View 2009 Chicago North Side Halloween Events in a larger map

If you know of any North Side events I missed, let me know with a comment or email and I’ll add them.

Chicago MarathonThis Sunday, approximately 45,000 runners will fill the streets of our city for the 32nd Chicago Marathon. The runners will travel as far north as Addison Street in Lakeview on a course that will take them through much of the city.

If you’re hoping to watch the race in person, the marathon website has a downloadable Spectator’s Guide (6.84 MB) with detailed information on the course and race.

If you plan on parking overnight near the race’s route, check for signs indicating the no parking zones for the race which will be enforced beginning at 1:00 a.m. on Sunday. Streets along the route will also be closed from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. the day of the race. More detailed street closure information can be found here.

Lastly, I’d like to wish the best of luck to my residential real estate sale team’s very own Client Care manager, Eleanor Olson, who will be competing in the race after a rigorous summer training schedule. In light of the relief work she has done in Zambia, Eleanor is also collecting pledges for the World Vision organization. Go Eleanor!

Photo by rbackowski

Fire safetyI wrote about home fire safety in a post back in September, but a family trip to a neighborhood fire station reminded me of a specific safety topic that needs emphasis – children.

This weekend, the firefighters of Chicago Fire Department Engine 55 welcomed my family and another (including six children aged two to eleven) into their station house for a guided tour. You can imagine the thrill the kids shared as they tried on real firefighter helmets and coats, sat behind the wheel of a massive fire truck, and slid down the bottom section of a life-sized fireman’s pole. For my son Max, who dressed up as a firefighter at age two for Halloween, it was a highlight of his summer!

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Chicago Air and Water ShowDon’t plan on any peaceful afternoon naps this weekend if you live anywhere near Chicago’s lakefront! High performance civilian and military aircraft will once again fill the skies over Lake Michigan for the nation’s biggest free air show, the 51st annual Chicago Air and Water Show.

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Sad doggyWhile much attention has been paid to the human side of the foreclosure crisis – and justifiably so – pets are being left behind both figuratively and literally. As families have been foreclosed on or have abandoned homes with underwater mortgages, some, for whatever reasons, have chosen to leave their pets to fend for themselves.

Thankfully, many struggling pet owners in Chicago have done the humane thing by taking their pets to shelters. Even though some people are only turning over their pets until they get back on their feet (such as through the PAWS Chicago foster program), Chicagoland shelters are feeling the strain.

If you want to help with the rising needs of Chicago shelters and animals, consider volunteering at a shelter, adopting a pet or donating to a related cause. You can find resources on all of this at the PAWS Chicago website. There’s even a REALTORS®-based pet outreach program in Chicago: REALTORS® to the Rescue!

And should you need a nice, big backyard for a new four-legged friend, I’m always available to help with that.

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