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The Mix: Really cool things to do

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Mmmmm, authentic tacos ... (File)

Get a jump on the celebration of an important Mexican victory over the French on May 5, 1862, with the three-day Cinco de Mayo Festival in Douglas Park, 1401 S. Sacramento. Live music, performances, food, carnival rides and games are expected to attract as many as 250,000 people today through Sunday. Admission is free, though some attractions are not. A colorful neighborhood parade will step off from Cermak and Damen at noon Sunday. Call (773) 843-9738;

But wait, there's more! Check out this list of Cinco de Mayo events all over town.

More events after the jump ...

The Chicago-based trio 3Girls3 -- Heather Moran, MaryMonica Thomas and Gail Becker -- have whipped up an homage to singer-songwriter Barry Manilow with the help of Jeff Award-winning composer and musician George Howe. The ladies will perform such hits as "Copacabana," "I Write the Songs" and "Mandy" in This One's for You! The Songs of Barry Manilow at Davenport's Piano Bar, 1383 N. Milwaukee, at 8 p.m. Saturday and again on May 9. Tickets are $20 plus a two-drink minimum. Call (773) 278-1830;

Jazz pianist Brad Mehldau is as comfortable with "Knives Out" by Radiohead as with a standard like Jerome Kern's "All the Things You Are" -- and he writes many of the songs he plays solo or as part of his trio. He will appear at 8 tonight in "An Evening with Brad Mehldau" at 8 p.m. at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, part of the Jazz at Symphony Center series. Tickets are $24-$55. Call (312) 294-3000;

Poland was second only to the United States in enacting a democratic constitution, ratified on on May 3, 1791. The Polish Constitution Day Parade, which begins at 11:30 a.m. Saturday from Columbus and Balbo in Grant Park, is a magnet for Polish Americans celebrating their heritage, and is claimed as the largest event of its kind outside Poland. For details, visit

San Francisco might seem an unlikely source for bluegrass music, but Hot Buttered Rum is gathering an enthusiastic audience for its smart, adventurous and yet traditional music. This five-piece band will play at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage, at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Family Groove Company will open. Tickets are $15. Call (773) 929-1322;

Mayor Daley's Kids & Kites Festival, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Montrose Harbor, Montrose and Lake Shore Drive, is a good sign that spring is here. Kids will make and fly their own kites, listen to stories, have their faces painted and decorate a refrigerator magnet shaped like a kite. This year, candy will fall from the sky -- twice! Free. Call (312) 744-3370; www.chicagokids

The first full-scale survey in the United States of the work of the Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson opens today at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago. Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson will show the artist's astonishing perspective on the natural world, as well his ability to draw the viewer into it. Eliasson, who now lives in Copenhagen and Berlin, works in photography, sculpture, installation and even immersive environments. The show will be up through Sept. 13. Call (312) 280-2660;

Top international X Games athletes in skateboarding vert, BMX and freestyle motocross will be at the Sears Centre Arena, 5333 Prairie Stone Parkway, Hoffman Estates, at 7:30 tonight as part of the ASA Action Sports World Tour. This is the first time in more than a decade that this tour has swung through Chicago. Performers will include skateboarding stars Pierre-Luc Gagnon, Bucky Lasek and Sandro Dias, and BMX stars Mike Spinner, Daniel Dhers and Chicago's own Koji Kraft. A live concert by the Used will top off the evening. Tickets are $10-$62; premium seats include a chance to meet performers before the show. Call (847) 649-2270;

The 78th annual Waa-Mu show at Northwestern University is full of characters who got their start in books. Curious George, Holden Caulfield, Tarzan and Alice in Wonderland are just a few of the familiar individuals who appear in "Waa-Mu 2009: One for the Books," an original, family-friendly show (ages 10 and up) today through May 10 at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson, Evanston. Waa-Mu tickets are $11 to $28. Call (847) 491-7282 or visit

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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Conner published on May 1, 2009 6:00 AM.

Truth in band names? was the previous entry in this blog.

Promoting literacy, one comic book at a time is the next entry in this blog.

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