Cabin fever? Take the kids to Chicago

Today’s column from The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.)

Cabin fever? Take the kids to Chicago


Feb. 19, 2011

Well, the weather finally broke this week. Thank goodness. But, alas, the start of spring still remains four weeks away.

Sorry to rain on your parade.

(Hey, at least I didn’t snow on it.)

And with the bitterly cold end to 2010 followed by this brutal start to 2011, I’m quite certain that those of you with young children wish spring was instead just four days away, so you can get the kids out of the house.
Even in chilly weather, however, there are plenty of places in Chicago that you can take your boys and girls to visit in order to cure their cabin fever – and maintain your own sanity. And here are few …

The 2011 IKC Cluster of Dog Shows

According to the latest census, Chicago lost 200,000 residents in the past decade. The taxes have also skyrocketed, while the number of cheap parking spots have dwindled to a precious few.

And don’t even get me started on the potholes.

Some might say Chicago has gone to the dogs. But that won’t really be true until Feb. 25-27, when more than 10,000 purebred dogs from 167 breeds invade McCormick Place for a variety of competitions and demonstrations at the International Kennel Club of Chicago Cluster of Dog Shows.

With admission for children 12 and under free with the purchase of an adult ticket, the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. event is great for families. A downloadable discount coupon is also available at, along with show details.

‘Jackie and Me’: The Jackie Robinson Story

Like spring, baseball season is also just around the corner. And there’s no better way to get your kids excited than by visiting the Chicago Children’s Theatre (1016 N. Dearborn) to catch the production of “Jackie and Me,” which debuted Feb. 8 to rave reviews.

The 85-minute drama is adapted from the popular children’s novel of the same name and tells the story of a young boy’s time-traveling encounter with Jackie Robinson, the man who broke the color barrier in Major League baseball.

The show runs through March 27 and tickets are $25-$35. For more information, visit

The Mexico Festival of Toys

There’s no need to wait until Cinco de Mayo to celebrate Mexican heritage. Now through March 13, kids can have a fiesta during the “Mexico: Festival of Toys!” at the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier.

The interactive exhibit showcases a collection of more than 600 one-of-a-kind toys on loan from Papalote Children’s Museum in Mexico City. With some items dating back nearly a century, the toys offer a window into Mexico’s playful past and feature handmade dolls, puppets, puzzles, marionettes, papier-mâché animals and more.

To inspire children’s creativity, the museum also offers activity stations, such as a Do-It-Yourself Toy Workshop, where kids can build their own vehicles, dolls and puppets, and a Wheel Track to test the speed of toys that race.

For more information, visit

Ed Debevic’s

No matter what kind of fun he or she is up to, a kid’s got to eat, right?

(And parents do, too.)

While it’s nowhere near as popular among locals as it used to be, for the younger set there are still few places more fun to dine in downtown Chicago than Ed Debevic’s (640 N. Wells St.), the kitschy, faux-1950s-style eatery that spans nearly an entire city block in River North.

With the wait staff donning goofy costumes and copping a mock rude attitude while serving you, Ed Debevic’s – and its smart-aleck décor – is a fun way to wind down a kids-themed day in the Windy City.

And survive until spring.