Get warmed up for May days in Chicago

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

Get warmed up for May days in Chicago


May 5, 2012

In Chicago, just how rare is it that the month of March turns out to be a warmer than the month of April?

Well, rare enough that the Cubs have won a World Series since the last time happened. So, you know, pretty darn rare.

According to WGN-TV weather guru Tom Skilling, this March, with an average temperature of 53.5 degrees, ended up 2.8 degrees above April’s average of 50.7 degrees, marking just the second time in 142 years of Windy City weather history that a year’s third month measured warmer than its fourth.

The only other time such it happened was in 1907, one year before the Cubs won their last championship. So, perhaps that means next year is the Cubs’ year.

Or, perhaps, not.

Either way, here’s to hoping that May is our month, weather-wise. And assuming temperatures do rise the next few weeks, the following are some suggestions about how to take advantage of the outdoors in Chicago this May.

Cinco de Mayo Parade
Sunday, Noon to 11 p.m.

Today, of course, is the Cinco de Mayo. But Chicago’s festivities honoring the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, will be going strong through the Seis de Mayo, as well. And all for free.

From noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday, the city’s Cinco de Mayo parade will be held along Cermak Road on Chicago’s Southwest Side, beginning at Wood St. and ending at Kedzie Ave.

Then, from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., the third annual Cinco de Mayo Festival, located at 26th St. and Kostner Ave., in the heart of Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, will feature live music, authentic foods, arts and crafts and activities for the entire family.

For more information, visit

Chicago Mayfest
May 18-20

Billing itself as the first great event of Chicago’s renowned summer festival season, Mayfest is a three-day extravaganza that features some of Chicago’s premier cover bands, along with plenty of food and drinks.

At the very least, it’s the first great Mayfest event of the season (more on that later).

Staged beneath a giant tent at the corner of Ashland and Barry avenues in Lakeview, Mayfest’s music lineup includes the popular “16 Candles” (on Friday), followed by “Too White Crew” and “Hairbangers Ball” (Saturday) and finally “Rod Tuffcurls” and “Mike and Joe” (Sunday).

For a full schedule and more information, visit

Randolph Street Market Festival
May 26-27

On Memorial Day weekend, more than 200 antiques, vintage collectibles and indie designer apparel dealers will set up shop along Randolph St. between Ada St. and Ogden Ave. for the ninth annual Randolph Street Market Festival on the near West Side.

The “European-style” fair – which also offers shopping inside the air-conditioned Journeymen Plumbers Hall (1340 W. Washington Blvd.) – is known for its themed mini-markets that offer such items as rare vinyl recording, international goods and fancy foods, as well as beer and wine vendors.

Tickets are $8 to $10 for adults, with kids 12 entering for free. For more information, visit

Mayfest Chicago
May 31 to June 3

Far different from Chicago Mayfest – no, really – Mayfest Chicago is a free four-day, German-themed event held at the intersection of Lincoln and Leland avenues in Lincoln Square, the heart of the city’s German community.

Spelled Maifest in German, the festival is the traditional German celebration of the arrival of spring – think of it as an Oktoberfest in May – with live music, maypole dancing and, on Friday night, a traditional keg tapping and crowing of the May Queen.

Or is that Mai Queen?

For more information, visit