ABC7 On Your Side: Free Chicago

May 24, 2010 9:12:57 PM PDT
Ready to break free of Chicago and get away? Well, hang on. Chicago might be your destination.

After all, more than 15 million visitors are expected this summer. For locals we don't have far to go and it can be very affordable.

Young swimmers are getting ready for summer at Fosco Park through the Learn to Swim program offered at all Chicago Park District pools. Learn to Swim continues through the summer. For residents and non-Chicago residents there is no cost.

"It's life skills. You want to look at not only does swimming help get kids off the street, get them into positive activities, but it helps with life skills. If they fall into water they know how to get out," said Jackie Guthrie, Fosco Park.

The butterflies await you at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Visitors can appreciate the connection with nature without an admission cost on free Thursdays. A new 3D exhibit at the museum helps visitors understand the journey of monarch butterflies in Mexico.

"It's just that that whole process of learning how to be better stewards and better citizens for our city and community," said Deb Lahey, Notebaert Nature Museum.

One local Chicago artist is creating pieces for the 57th Street Art Fair. Bob Klunk has participated in the historic Hyde Park event for over 30 years. Art lovers have the option to buy directly from the artist but the fair is free. It's a cultural exchange for the visitor and the artist.

"You also get ideas and you share ideas. That's what is so wonderful. It's very much an intellectual endeavor. There's something really educational about an art festival," said Klunk.

Locals will find festivals throughout the city this summer. We found one last week -- the Asian American Festival with international performances. We are free to browse and take in the rich cultures that create the tapestry of Chicago.

If you're ready to get move after dancing with the stars, you have no excuse. We found free dance lessons.

As day turns to night, evening classes at Latin Rhythm Academy of Dance and Performance get moving. Academy instructors will teach classes at summer dance. Soon the dancing with be in Grant Park when the season kicks off with a variety of dances that will include free lessons and open dance for the novice and the advanced.

"It's one of the biggest events in Chicago. It's free. It's a beautiful summer day. It's perfect to get out there. And there are tons of studios so everyone is biting at the bit to get there because it's one of the best events in Chicago," said said Maricza Valentin, Latin Rhythms Academy of Dance and Performance..

We caught up with members of the Ponys at a recording session. The band performed in Millennium Park's free concert series and will play at Division Street Fest in June. Good tunes are coming to Chicago's parks and streets free of charge.

"It's awesome. And you know everyone has been cooped up all winter so it's great to get outside and do something," said Jered Gummere, the Ponys.

Some of the events may have suggested donations, but ultimately there are a lot of events that won't cost admission.

57th Street Art Fair - June 5 & 6
www.57thstreetartfair.org

Summer Dance
www.ChicagoSummerDance.org

Millennium Park concerts:
www.millenniumpark.org/

Free festivals:
www.chicagogospelmusicfestival.us
www.chicagobluesfestival.us
www.tasteofchicago.us
www.vivachicago.us
www.chicagoairandwater.us
www.chicagojazzfestival.us
www.chicagoneighborhoodfestivals.us
www.bikechicago.us
www.chicagocountrymusicfestival.us

Museum Free Days:
www.explorechicago.org/city/en/supporting_narrative/events___special_events/special_events/tourism/Museum_Free_Days.html

City of Chicago activities:
www.explorechicago.org

Chicago Convention & Tourism: Free Chicago:
www.choosechicago.com/free_chicago/Pages/default.aspx

Division Street Fest:
www.do-divisionstreetfest.com/fest/

Swim lessons/Chicago Park District:
programs.chicagoparkdistrict.com/programBrowser/#020000400012

Pools/Chicago Park District
www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/resources/pool_schedules/index.html

PEGGY NOTEBAERT NATURE MUSEUM - Free Thursdays
www.naturemuseum.org

Other free programs at the Notebaert Museum:

Gosling Gazing (Thursdays and Saturdays, May, 1:30 p.m.)
Take a guided tour of North Pond, and see if you can spot goslings, ducklings, and more! Cost: Free.

Nature's Lens: Nature Museum Film Series
(Thursdays, May 6 and 27, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.)
On the Wings of the Monarch is an exciting nature documentary that follows host Libby Graham on an amazing journey into the life of the monarch butterfly. This documentary provides an in-depth look at the enigmatic monarch butterfly, tracing its incredible long distance migration and its fantastic life cycle. Running time: 47 minutes. Cost: Free.

Daniel Lorenzetti and Linda Rice Lorenzetti: Birth of Coffee Presentation (Wednesday, May 26, 6:30 p.m.)
Join us for an evening with Daniel Lorenzetti and Linda Rice Lorenzetti, the documentary team behind the Nature Museum's Birth of Coffee exhibition. The husband and wife team will share their experiences developing Birth of Coffee including their travels and inspiration for the exhibition and book. Take this opportunity to get an insider's look into the development of this exhibition, and view the completed work before the May 31st closing date. Free, RSVP required adultprograms@naturemuseum.org.


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