As we head into another stranger than fiction holiday weekend, we might be longing for the days of hanging out with big groups of friends and family and celebrating with dazzling firework displays. But as COVID-19 numbers climb, let’s take care to keep Illinois in the green — we are one of only 13 states that are keeping the spread of the virus at bay. So, grab your mask and hand sanitizer, and take some time to be grateful to to be healthy, and hopefully with close loved ones, this beautiful summer weekend.
We understand that after months of being cooped up most of us are excited to see the city and businesses begin to open. However, COVID-19 is still present in the community and we urge you to exercise best practices — maintain at least 6 feet of distance, wear a mask and wash your hands properly and frequently — when going out.
Celebrate: Fourth of July
Firework shows—the iconic finale to the Fourth of July holiday—are cancelled due to crowd restrictions, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the day with some normalcy, and still have fun. Let’s count our blessings and mark the day by taking part in the below events, some virtual, that aim to brighten our spirits. Here are just a few:
Winnetka Fourth of July on Wheels
July 4, 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Winnetka will do a “reverse parade,” where you are the parade and they are the spectators. Residents who participate will decorate their vehicles and drive by the Village Green between 10am – 12:30pm on Saturday, July 4 (parade order will be determined alphabetically by last name). You can also watch the parade live on Facebook.
Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks
July 4, 7-9 p.m.
New York City will stream its annual spectacle on NBC on Saturday. To keep safe with crowds, the city reimagined the show as a series of smaller unannounced displays in every borough.
Bridgeview Drive-Up Fireworks
July 3, 9:15 p.m.
The lot opens at 7:30 p.m., and the event is free
Evanston Fourth of July Virtual Celebration
11:00 a.m. show: Go behind the scenes of the 4th Celebration and Parade on Facebook
2:00 p.m. virtual parade: Watch on their Facebook page, Youtube Live, WCGO Radio 95.9FM and at evanston4th.org.
8:00 p.m. show: Virtual Band Concert and Fireworks Show on Facebook and at evanston4th.org.
Grant Park Virtual Salute to Independence Day
July 4, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Watch for free on Zoom
As we celebrate our freedom this Independence Day, we take an important pause to acknowledge that not everyone in America is free. Learn more about why not everyone feels comfortable celebrating this holiday, here.
Make This: Summertime Smoothies
Mary Corpening Barber and Sara Corpening Whiteford, authors of Super-Charged Smoothies, gave us the scoop on a recipe that is the perfect cool treat on a hot summer day:
Goji berries may look like shriveled red raisins and taste a tad seedy on their own, but blended in this smoothie, the little berries transform into goji greatness. Used for some six thousand years by herbalists in China, Tibet, and India, this dried berry is loaded with antioxidants. Truly a wonder fruit, goji berries are thought to improve eyesight, protect the liver, promote longevity, and boost the immune system. Om, meet yum!
1 cup goji juice or apple juice
1 3/4 cups frozen strawberries
1/2 cup passion-fruit sorbet
2 tbsp goji berries
Combine the goji juice, strawberries, and sorbet in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add the goji berries and pulse until well incorporated.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups; serves 2.
Get Outdoors & Help Out: Chicago Olympics
The Summer Olympics were canceled, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring some Olympic-magic into your life, while helping others, too. Join our #2020ChicagoOlympics challenge and help us donate funds to Girls in the Game and By the Hand Club for Kids. Here are the details:
Participate in just three of the Olympics sports detailed here, like biking, playing tennis and swimming, and tag us on Instagram @betterchicago and by using #2020ChicagoOlympics, and Better will donate $50 each to organization, up to $5000 total. Ends July 31, 2020. (Don’t have Instagram? Email photos to [email protected])
About the Chicago Organizations
Girls in the Game enables every girl to find her voice, discover her strength, and lead with confidence through fun and active sports, health and leadership activities. By the Hand Club for Kids is an after-school program that takes children who live in under-resourced neighborhoods by the hand and walks with them from kindergarten through college, loving and nurturing them—mind, body and soul—to be the solution and help them rise above violence and poverty.
Go: Millennium Park
Our favorite park to visit after a long bike ride up Lake Michigan is open, with safety precautions in place. The city has spray painted circles to keep visitors distanced on the Great Big Lawn, which just opened back up this week, and face coverings must be worn throughout the park. If the park reaches its reduced capacity limits, guests will be asked to wait in line (entrance is on Michigan Avenue and Madison Street), and groups must limit themselves to 10 people or less. Concessions are closed, and so are the bathrooms—but they have added portable restrooms and hand washing stations for visitors. Park ambassadors will also be placed to make sure safety guidelines are being followed. If you have missed our Bean, don’t plan on that masked-selfie just yet—it is still closed to the public.
Watch: Hamilton on Disney+
If some rain showers do hit this weekend or the mosquitos are driving you mad, we have the perfect thing to watch: Hamilton, the original Broadway Production, exclusively streaming on Disney+ on July 3. Even if you have been lucky to see the Tony award winning musical in person, know every word to the soundtrack or no nothing about the story, this is our top pick for what to view this holiday weekend. Recorded in 2016 with composer, playwright, performer and producer Lin-Manuel Miranda and the original cast that consisted of mostly Black, Latino and Asian American performers, the hip-hop musical is about the American Revolution, with themes that are highly relevant during our recent months of protests and calls for racial equality and freedom for all Americans.
How to help:
Many are finding that helping others is an effective way to help combat feelings of powerlessness in the face of COVID-19. Here are some deserving nonprofits, including food pantries, that need your support.
More from Better:
Ultimate Grilling Guide: Tips For A Better BBQ Season
Murder Hornets: Do We Need to Worry?
Front Porch Sessions: Snapshots During Our Stay-at-Home Order
Macaire Douglas lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and two sons. She proudly supports Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that works tirelessly to prevent the illegal abandonment of newborns nationwide. Since its inception in 2000, more than 3,600 newborns have been safely surrendered and adopted into loving homes.