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5 Free Ways To Celebrate Memorial Day In Chicago

By Lauren Wulf

BBQ, fireworks, white pants and a new bottle of sunscreen. All signs Memorial Day weekend and summer have arrived. Here's a list of 5 free things to do this weekend in celebration of Memorial Day.

That's right, free. You have no excuse to not come out of winter/NATO hibernation.

Memorial Day Parade

1. Memorial Day Parade

State St. from Lake St. to Van Buren
Chicago, IL

The Chicago Memorial Day Parade will take place Saturday, May 26th. The wreath laying ceremony will begin at 11:00 and the parade kicks off at 12:00. The parade honors all men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country. This year's parade will be dedicated to all soldiers who fought and died in our country's recent conflicts. The City of Chicago is proud to have post 911 veterans represented in the parade this year. CIA Director David H. Petraeus will lead this year's parade as its Grand Marshal and participate in the Wreath Laying Ceremony preceding the parade. The parade is free but make sure to get there early to get a good spot along the route.

Navy Pier
(credit: Navy Pier)

2. Fireworks

Navy Pier
600 East Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL

Kick off the summer with the first fireworks of the season on Saturday, May 26th. Take in the music and view from the pier or along the lakefront near Grand Avenue. Fireworks are synced with music from B96. After the parade, there's plenty to do at Navy Pier for kids and adults until the fireworks get underway. Fireworks begin at 10:15 p.m., and are free to watch.


3. Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival

Belmont & Sheffield Avenue
Chicago, IL

Saturday and Sunday from Noon to 10:00 p.m., Sheffield Avenue from Belmont to School will be closed for the fest of the season. See Dot Dot Dot, Trippin' Billies, Wedding Banned and more. Aside from music, fest goers can enjoy food, drinks and local artisans. There are no tickets required to attend the Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival, however a $5 gate donation is requested upon entrance to the festival.

Summer Season Begins On Memorial Day Weekend
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

4. Hit The Beach

Chicago, IL

From the South Shore to Rogers Park, beaches are open for business Memorial Day weekend. The Chicago Park District manages the city's 26 miles of open and free lakefront for the enjoyment of Chicago residents and visitors. Admission to Chicago's beaches is free. Walk, jog, swim, paddle, bike, rollerblade, sail, play volleyball, explore, or just relax along Chicago's lakefront. The 2012 beach season runs Friday, May 25 to Monday, September 3. Swimming is permitted and lifeguards are on duty at all beaches from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., unless otherwise posted.


5. Downtown Sound

Millennium Park
N. Michigan Ave. & E. Randolph St.
Chicago IL

Downtown Sound, returns to Millennium Park for a fourth summer. May 28-July 30, enjoy free music at Jay Pritzker Pavilion on Monday nights at 6:30PM.

Highlights of the series include indie rockers Cloud Cult, The Sadies and Jonathan Richman and soul-singer Charles Bradley, along with international performers Chico Trujillo and Ana Tijoux from Chile, M.A.K.U. Soundsystem from Colombia, Sidi Touré and SMOD from Mali and Ireland's James Vincent McMorrow. Chicago musicians Kelly Hogan, Joan of Arc, the Occidental Brothers Dance Band International and The Eternals and other local acts add to the line-up. Downtown Sound is programmed by Mike Reed of At Pluto LTD.

Looking for some great songs to listen to for Memorial Day? Check out XRT's Memorial Day Playlist!

Lauren Wulf, CBS Chicago

Lauren Wulf writes about living in Chicago on a budget on her website, A Poor Girl's Guide Chicago.

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