Bring Ray Home

Post date: Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - 6:56pm

Committee seeks input on best way to memorialize famous author

One of Waukegan’s most famous authors will come home again soon.

A Waukegan group is now seeking unique sculptural ideas on how best to honor Ray Bradbury, one of the most celebrated authors of the 20th century.

Bradbury lived in Waukegan until he was 13. Even after moving to California, he fondly remembered his childhood in Waukegan, poring over books in the stacks of the Carnegie Library, watching movies at the Genesee Theatre, and walking home through the ravine. Many of his writings take place or mention Waukegan, including the 1957 “Dandelion Wine”, “Something Wicked This Way Comes” in 1962, and his last novel in 2006, “Farewell Summer”. He died in 2012 at the age of 91.

“Bradbury should hold a place of honor in Waukegan because this is where he grew up and his passion for learning is an inspiration to the community,” said Richard Lee, Executive Director of the Waukegan Public Library and chair of the Ray Bradbury Statue Committee.

About ten years ago, Waukegan memorialized another famous son of Waukegan, Jack Benny, with a life-sized statue of his likeness, but Lee says that the Bradbury sculpture could be anything from a typewriter to a firefighter.

“We are looking for a way to make Bradbury live forever, like his character Mr. Electrico in “Something Wicked This Way Comes”. We want to honor him in a big way,” said Lee.

The committee is still considering various sites around Waukegan’s downtown area and the chosen sculpture may influence the final location.

Bradbury supported the Waukegan Public Library throughout his entire career. He sponsored the Library’s Creative Contest for 30 years, personally hand-signing the winner certificates each year. And, in 2005, Bradbury permitted the library to use his name and present an annual Ray Bradbury Storytelling Festival around Halloween, his favorite time of year. And last January, the Library was named one of three beneficiaries of his personal estate.

Sculpture ideas may be sent by mail or email to Richard Lee at the Waukegan Public Library, 128 North County Street, Waukegan, IL, 60085 or richardlee [at] waukeganpl [dot] info. For more information or if you are interested in contributing to the project, contact Lee at (847) 623-2041, ext. 250. It is intended that the statue will be fully funded by charitable donations and sponsors. All donations are tax deductible.

The committee meets every fourth Wednesday of the month at 4 p.m. in the Waukegan Public Library board room at 128 North County Street.

Magical realm opens at Waukegan Public Library

Post date: Tuesday, November 18, 2014 - 12:24pm

The Waukegan Public Library calls all lords and ladies of the realm to visit its new children’s learning exhibit, “Once Upon a Fairy Tale”, opening on Sunday, Dec. 7. The grand celebration is free and open to the public and takes place from 1 to 3 p.m. complete with sword fighting, knights, pictures with princesses, falcon trainers, strolling minstrels, cake and refreshments.

This year’s exhibit, funded exclusively by North Shore Gas, features 2,200 square-feet of interactive learning centers right out of the pages of well-known fairytales. Hands-on elements will immerse children in fantasy stories and promote literacy by fostering a love of books, reading, and storytelling. Fairy tales develop a child’s imagination and creativity and teach a basic understanding of right and wrong.

A key element of the exhibit focuses on imagination and role playing, which helps children learn about people and events on other sides of the world and ponder the future. Activities include woodworking in Geppetto’s workshop, climbing up Rapunzel’s tower, building houses with the three little pigs, mining for diamonds with Snow White’s dwarves, creating Hansel and Gretel’s candy house, and sitting in Cinderella’s carriage. The exhibit also highlights the morals and lessons of each story.

“Fairy tales are truly universal, existing all over the world in every language,” said Rena Morrow, Public Relations and Experiential Learning Manager. “They represent a kind of magic and mystery that children can relate to and learn from. This year’s exhibit places children in these stories, not as the prince or princess, but as a variety of characters who have challenges to overcome and lessons to learn, such as the three little pigs, the hardworking dwarves, and a wooden boy.”

In addition to North Shore Gas, pieces of the exhibit were generously sponsored by Great Lakes Credit Union and the Tempel Lipizzans in Wadsworth.

After the ribbon-cutting, families will enter a storybook world complete with knights, princesses, and merriment. Children will meet professional knights, hold replica weapons and armor, witness swordfights, and compete in a squire competition. Families will meet a licensed falconer with his birds and learn about the role of falconry in the Middle Ages. A strolling musician will play the lute, recorder, and trumpet. In addition, children can attend a Shakespeare workshop and learn how to speak in iambic pentameter and perform scenes from Shakespeare plays.

During the free opening party, families can take a Medieval Moment photo as a keepsake of their visit complete with period hats. Also, a variety of prizes will be raffled off, including last year’s complete G-scale electric train and track, tickets to the Tempel Farms Lipizzaner horse performance, and tickets to next summer’s Renaissance Festival in Bristol, Wisconsin.

The launch of “Once Upon a Fairy Tale” marks the sixth year of rotating exhibits in the children’s department at the Waukegan Public Library, following “Dig the Dinosaurs”, “Under the Sea”, “Creepy Crawlies”, “Oink, Baa, Moo”, and the most recent “The Places You’ll Go”. Each exhibit, including all programs, displays and installation, is funded exclusively by donations from North Shore Gas and the Harold M. & Adeline S. Morrison Family Foundation.

The library’s Early Learning Center will be closed beginning Nov. 22 until the grand opening on Dec. 7 while workers install the displays. The exhibit is open during library hours throughout the year. For more information about “Once Upon a Fairy Tale”, contact Rena Morrow, Public Relations and Experiential Learning Manager, at (847) 623-2041, ext. 231 or rmorrow [at] waukeganpl [dot] info.

Halloween Stories at the Genesee Theatre this Friday

Post date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 11:26am

Tickets are on sale now for the award-winning Ninth Annual Ray Bradbury Storytelling Festival, “Literary Halloween,” this Friday at the Genesee Theatre in downtown Waukegan. Sponsored by the Waukegan Public Library, the festival features a 10:30 a.m. children’s matinee, an evening performance at 6:30 p.m. for all ages, and an 8:00 p.m. performance for listeners 12 and older.

This year’s theme celebrates Ray Bradbury’s favorite holiday with some of the most recognized ghost stories, macabre fables, and creepy tales told on the historic Genesee stage. Acclaimed storytellers Megan Wells, Chris Fascione, Linda Gorham, Beth Horner, Syd Lieberman, and Anne Shimojima will perform stories, such as Edgar Allen Poe’s “Pit and the Pendulum”, a rendition of “The Raven” and “Wicked John and the Devil”. In addition, Wells will reprise her popular telling of Mr. Dark from Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes”.

Starting at 5:30 p.m., pre-performance activities will include free Halloween costume photos, the Wheel of Misfortune game, and trick-or-treat bag giveaways. Official Storytelling Festival t-shirts and this year’s Ray Bradbury Creative Contest entries published in a literary journal will be for sale in the lobby. All guests are welcome to dress in costume.

In addition, representatives from the Ray Bradbury Statue committee will be in the lobby to answer questions about the proposed memorial to Bradbury and an exhibit about the influence Waukegan had on Bradbury’s life will be on display courtesy of the Waukegan History Museum.

Tickets are $10 for Act I, $17 for Act II or $25 for both Acts. School matinee tickets are $6 each. All tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.comor at the Genesee Theatre box office before Friday or at the door. Library patrons of any library can present their library card and receive $1 off at the box office.