Order your holidays Chicago-style

Today’s Wisch List column from the Kankakee Daily Journal

Order your holidays Chicago-style


Dec. 19, 2009

I’m not sure if we should send a gift card to Father Time, St. Nick or Baby New Year, but with the way the calendar falls this month, there’s more reason than usual to cheer the holidays.

Christmas and New Year’s conveniently fall on Fridays, setting up a pair of long weekends just perfect for taking a daytrip and making merry in Chicago.

Here are a few of my suggestions on ways to enjoy the holidays, Windy City-style. And, as an early gift, you don’t even have to wait until next week to start:

Skate ‘The Rink at Wrigley’

If it hadn’t already been frozen by the minus-three-degree wind chill, the irony would have been dripping right off the sign posted outside “The Rink at Wrigley” on Tuesday night.

“Due to the recent warm weather,” the placard read, “the ice rink opening has been postponed until Friday, December 19th. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

Better than apologizing for frost-bitten ears, I suppose.

Wrigleyville’s newest attraction – originally scheduled to open Tuesday – is a full-size skating rink located in the parking outside the ballpark along Clark Street. Inspired by the popularity of the Blackhawks’ Winter Classic game last January, the rink would be even better if it was located inside Wrigley.

Nevertheless, it’s a fun new attraction and the rink’s grand opening is at 11 a.m. Sunday. Through February, the rink will be open Sunday through Thursday until 10 p.m., and on Fridays and Saturdays until 11 p.m. Regular admission is $10 per adult and $6 per child. Skate rentals cost extra.

The Cubs were looking to Milton Bradley’s contract somehow, you know.

Have a Tom & Jerry at Miller’s Pub

Since 1935, Miller’s Pub (134 S. Wabash Ave.) has been an institution in Chicago’s Loop. Frequented by tourists, city folk and celebrities, the restaurant is best known for its BBQ Canadian baby back ribs but, during December, it’s also known for its signature holiday drink: The Tom & Jerry.

A mix of rum, brandy, egg whites, sugar and vanilla served in a coffee mug with a stick of cinnamon, the Tom & Jerry is a unique concoction. I can’t guarantee that it will become your favorite Yuletide drink, but it’s worth a try.

After all, eggnog gets old after a while, right?

Visit Macy’s on State Street

It was better when it was still Marshall Field’s, but a stroll past the animated holiday windows outside Macy’s (111 N. State St.) remains a State Street tradition.

Your kids will love it and they’ll also enjoy getting a photo taken with Santa Claus in Macy’s SantaLand, where the jolly old elf has greeted both the Windy City’s naughty and the nice every winter since 1948.

While at Macy’s, also make time to visit the Walnut Room, where you can dine beside – or simply ogle at – the Great Tree, which stands 45 feet tall and boasts 10,000 sparkling lights and 1,200 ornaments.

Sing Along at the Music Box

On most nights, the historic Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport Ave.) on Chicago’s North Side has independent and foreign films flickering on its enormous main screen.

But, for the past 26 years, the theater – which opened in 1929 – has spent five days in December showing a pair of vintage holiday movies an having Santa Claus, himself, lead the audience in Christmas caroling during the intermission.

This year, the Music Box Christmas Show – which runs nightly through Christmas Eve – features “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “White Christmas.” Tickets are $11 for a single feature and $16 for the double feature. For more information, visit

On a side note, the Music Box is located just a few blocks west of The Rink at Wrigley, meaning you could visit both for a double feature of a different sort.

Ring in 2010 early at Navy Pier

You can go anywhere and celebrate New Year’s when the clock strikes midnight. But, on Dec. 31, only at Navy Pier can you can ring in 2010 at … 8:15 p.m.?

For those kids (and parents?) who perhaps can’t stay awake until midnight, Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest offers a chance to play, dance and celebrate with interactive shows leading up to a New Year’s countdown held at 8:15.

For those night owls, Navy Pier also puts on a fireworks and music show at midnight to welcome 2010 in style.

Catch some hoops at the UC

The Chicago Bulls might stink, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any good basketball at the United Center this holiday season.

At noon on Saturday, Jan. 2, the University of Illinois takes on nationally-ranked Gonzaga in what should be an entertaining tilt at the House That Michael Jordan Built. You can visit for more information and if you do attend the game, you should keep an eye out for me.

I’ll be the guy dressed in orange.