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Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Chicago Riverwalk will kick off summer with puppets and pyrotechnics on May 20

Written by
Jonathan Samples

Parades, puppets and pyrotechnic displays are just some of what you can expect during an upcoming summer celebration on the Chicago Riverwalk. The city of Chicago announced on Thursday that it will hold an all-day event to mark the start of the Riverwalk's summer programming season on May 20.

The Chicago Riverwalk Summer Kick-Off Celebration will be held from 9am to 9pm and feature an eclectic mix of free and paid activities for attendees to enjoy. Take a walking tour led by the Chicago Architecture Foundation or sit back and watch “Dances of the Bridges,” a traveling music cruise and pyrotechnic display. Among other planned events, the Chicago Park District will lead attendees on a fishing expedition at the Jetty between Wells and Franklin, as well as puppet parades.

“Our Chicago Riverwalk celebration offers an extravaganza of music, art, architecture and puppetry,” Mark Kelly, commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, said in a press release. “We invite Chicagoans and visitors to escape the everyday and embrace Chicago from a new vantage point.”

Scheduled events include:

Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise: Climb aboard the First Lady and celebrate the Riverwalk's grand opening with a free CAF-led cruise. (112 E Wacker Drive, 9am. Free)

Mercury's Canine Cruise: You and your pooch can take a 90-minute river and lake cruise. (112 E Wacker Drive, 10:15am. Adults $35, kids ride free)

Riverwalk Paddle: Grab a kayak and paddle through Chicago’s river canyon. (Urban Kayaks, 10am–3pm. Free)

Music at Island Party Hut Tiki Bar: Local musicians Todd Donnelly and Corey Bless will be playing cool island jams, reggae, soca, punta, Afrobeat, Latin vibes and more. (Island Party Hut, 355 E Riverwalk South; noon–8pm. Free)

Dragon Boat Exhibition Race: Watch the historic Chinese tradition of dragon boat exhibition racing along the Riverwalk. (5–6pm, free)

Pyrotechnic Waterfall Display: The night ends with a one-minute grand finale display of pyrotechnic waterfalls at the River Theatre off of the west side of the Clark Street bridge and the east side of LaSalle Street bridge. (8pm, free)

Check out the Summer Kick-Off Celebration's website for a complete schedule of activities.

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