Route 66 Sunday update:  BluesFest, Maggie Daley Park and more

Happy Flag Day, fellow roadies!  Are you at the Chicago Blues Fest tonight?  You can still get there.  Seems like Chicago’s been having a lot of rain lately, but the good news is that it’s been keeping the high heat at bay.  Luckily, it’s dry out right now – which is a good thing, because today is the third and closing day of the BluesFest, being held at the Petrillo Band Shell in Grant Park (right off Route 66!).  Wouldn’t want the rest of that rained out, like the Cubs game nearly was last night.  So if you’re around downtown tonight, make sure you check out the rest of the BluesFest – it’s free.  See tonight’s schedule here.  There will be centennial tributes to both Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters.

BTW, last night the BluesFest celebrated the life and music of the recently deceased B.B. King, a guy who really knew the blues inside and out (nearly all of whose albums I have, including the one he did with Louis Jordan’s jump-blues hits; so danceable!).  You might want to read this post about him on Pitchfork.

Chicago Blues Festival at Petrillo band shell (City of Chicago DCASE)

Maggie Daley Park, meanwhile – which is across Columbus Drive to the east of Millennium Park – had its formal dedication Friday.  The park was partially opened last December when its skating ribbon debuted to great acclaim.  Since then, as it’s been slowly coming together section by section, it’s mostly garnered praise – for everything but the tall awkward light fixtures, that is.  Those look like abstract white giraffes or praying mantises (or half-mantises, really).  They’re supposed to blend in a lot more once the newly planted trees grow in, but that will take another 20 to 30 years.  Visitors haven’t been the only ones to complain about the modern light-poles:  Blair Kamin, the Chicago Tribune’s architecture critic, and WGN-TV’s Robert Jordan, Jr. have both noted those with dismay.  However, given that the place cost $60 million to develop, we’re betting the ugly things stay.  The dog owners have complained, too, as dogs are banned (the pee will ruin the lawn), but we can’t sympathize much about that:  there’s a perfectly nice dog park at the other (south) end of Grant Park.

Maggie Daley Park aerial map rendering (Chgo Park District)Anyway, there’s an awful lot of stuff packed into that 20-some acre space.  The skating ribbon, which had been limited to little kids because the mini-golf concession was using part of it, is now open to adult skaters as well.   And the move to another spot actually benefited the mini-golf operator, whose concession is now more visible than it had been before, so everyone’s happy now.  Since the park district gets 20 percent of his revenue, that’s a good thing.  The two climbing walls have been a hit ever since they opened.  And the various play areas for kids – some with lagoons and water sprays – have the parklet filled to the max, especially on weekends.  Most important, the lovely formal Cancer Survivors Garden remains, as do the tennis courts and the field house, though the latter got an overhaul (about time, too:  it’s at least 40 years old).

Also, if you missed our post about Lurie Garden, which is across from Maggie Daley Park in the SE corner of Millennium Park, you can find it here.  With all the rain, it’s filled in and greened up lot since Joe’s last visit there.

One last thought we’d like to share:  you never know who you’ll run into on or near Route 66 – even in Chicago.  Last March, Joe and I were coming back from an IGS field day architectural tour organized especially for us by the Chicago Architecture Foundation (we’ll tell you about the Devil in the White City Tour in our next post).  We were walking along Adams Street and saw a guy near the misplaced Begin Historic Route 66 sign.  It turned out he was a very enthusiastic twentysomething Frenchman who had been saving for a trip down Route 66 for years, and he thought that was where the route began.  “This is my dream!” he told us, grinning hugely.

Yes, it's in the wrong place ...

Yes, it’s in the wrong place … but true roadies probably know that already.

I mentioned to him that that isn’t actually the place where Route 66 began; when he asked where it really was, we directed him around the corner to the correct spot at Jackson Boulevard and Michigan Avenue, next to the Art Institute’s South Garden (and when he asked us to tell him more about the route, I handed him my business card with the blog address on it, cheeky thing that I am).  With a big smile, he grabbed me by the shoulders and kissed me European-style on both cheeks and left me with a hug before shaking hands with Joe (equally enthusiastically), then he rang up a friend – apparently in France! – and shot a selfie with me in front of the sign so that he could transmit it to his pal.  It was all very sweet and heartwarming (he also promised to read the blog and spread the word about our blog in France when he got back; hey, it never hurts to have word of mouth).  It did make me wonder, tho, how many folks saw my (un-made-up) face on their cell phones in France that weekend.  Ouch.  Ah, well, c’est la vie … it’s not every day that a Frenchman kisses you on Route 66.  ;D

Until next time,
your Route 66 reporter, Marie


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