I had a very simple rule when my children were growing up — “If it’s family friendly and free, we’ll be there.” Finding inexpensive things to do is not as easy today as it once was. The museums aren’t free. The lakefront beaches have a very expensive price tag to park there. The zoos have similar high costs, plus it is not the place to be when it’s hot (the smells). And Kiddieland is no more.

Even the perennial Taste of Chicago changed its scheduled (it’s happening this week instead of before the 4th of July). And the events, like the fabulous fireworks display for the 4th of July, no longer take place. So what is a family to do that’s fun and when the price tag is nil? That is part of the dilemma facing families today. And because of the terrible economy, programs the city and state once freely offered are no more. And more often than not, once something is no longer funded, we can expect to never see it again.

It costs a lot of money to raise a child to adulthood. It takes more than “cute clothes” to successfully do it. Truthfully, if more parents focused on educational knowledge, and less on brand name shoes and jeans, we would have smarter kids whose value system isn’t based on monetary items.

When I started writing this column, I had some very specific events in mind. Unfortunately, one of them will have already happened by the time you read this. So since it is an annual event, I will be timelier for you next year.

An event that several of my friends have attended — and is still free and relatively new — is the Taste of WVON. Sponsored by the only black-owned radio station in town, it has gotten rave reviews from folks who’ve previously attended. I will attend this year for the first time — as I no longer have to work on Saturdays. Yeah!

This free event takes place July 21, beginning at 10 a.m., at Lorraine Dixon Park, 87th and Dauphin (two blocks east of Cottage Grove). Like most neighborhood festivals, it is a mixture of food, vendors and entertainment. Free street parking is available, and this year’s main entertainment will be provided by LowRider, whose members made up the band WAR.

So take a break from the neighborhood and attend events that are free, fun and family orientated.

One reply on “What free stuff is there to do this summer around Chicago?”