Category Archives: Culture

Morton West Graduate Competes in International Singing Competition

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By Marty Carlino

Inspired by a post-concert meet and greet with pop star Mike Posner, Berwyn native Adam Martinez headed straight to his own studio.

Martinez, sporting his usual black Sennheiser headphones, tossed his black acoustic guitar to the side and used nothing but his powerful vocals to record his latest cover.

Martinez does nearly all of his work in his bedroom, which also serves as his recording studio. The space is equipped with his personal collection of recording software and instruments. Continue reading

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South Berwyn D100 Elects Four New Board Members

by Danielle Golab and Alejandro Cortez

Voters in South Berwyn split their tickets in Tuesday’s elections, choosing school board members from both slates of candidates competing for four seats in District 100.

Lisa Clemente, Jennifer Mitchell and Mark Titzer had run on one slate; Elizabeth Jimenez had run on a competing slate.

District 100 was the only contested race for Berwyn election. Candidates for the Berwyn School Board, Morton School Board and North Berwyn Park board all ran unopposed.

Turnout was less than 9 percent, with only 1,402 of the city’s 16,709 registers voters casting a ballot, according to the Cook County Clerk’s Office.

Clemente led the election with 748 votes, followed by Jimenez, who is the first Hispanic woman elected to the school board, with 747 votes. Third in line was Mitchell with 744 votes. The fourth place was taken by Titzer with 730 votes.

According to Jimenez, district 100 has a population of 81.6% Latinos. Jimenez says that this sends a message of how huge an impact it makes when most of the population is Latino as a support for her campaign.

“I am proud and at the same time humbled to have the opportunity to serve the Berwyn Community,” she said after the election.

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Magic, Games, and Sing-A-Longs, What More Can You Ask for?

Mary Macaroni returns to the World’s Largest Laundromat entertaining children with games, sing-alongs, and magic. It was held on Wednesday from 5p.m.-7p.m.

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World’s Largest Laundromat is located at 6246 Cermak Rd., Berwyn, IL, hosting events that incorporate children to interact and makes it a much fun and easier way for parents to do laundry. Their children stay entertained.

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Berwyn Development Corporation Gears Up for 2nd Annual Green Mile Pub Crawl

by Lauren Pinkston

The Green Mile Pub Crawl gives revelers a chance to get a jump on St. Patrick’s Day with a March 13 party along Berwyn’s Roosevelt Road.

Don’t expect too many marching bands, however.

Organizer John Aranza said it will highlight Roosevelt Road as a “destination point”.

“It’s not a typical St. Patrick’s day parade,” Aranza said, “It’s more to showcase the quality of businesses we have.”

Local businesses, such as Fitzgerald’s, Big Guys Sausage, Autre Monde, and others will host special music performances and food and drink specials for the evening.

And this year the organizers are going to showcase more musical acts, including the Band of Brothers Pipes and Drums.

“Band of Brothers is a group of retired firefighters from the Illinois area who play traditional music,” Aranza said. “They’ll be moving to different locations on Roosevelt to play bagpipes throughout the night.”

The Pub Crawl is set to kick off on Friday, March 13 at 5 p.m. and going to  11 p.m. Wristbands for the event costs $10 and include a shuttle service down Roosevelt Road as well as drink specials at participating venues.

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Berwyn Public Library Hosts Anime Monday for Teens

Berwyn teen anime fans come together to enjoy the Japanese-style animated movies and television shows at the Berwyn Public Library with like-minded fans individuals each week.

Marion Olea, invites anime fans to come together every Monday.

“I think it’s just a unique event to expose themselves to this big culture of anime,” said Marion Olea, the library’s teen services assistant. “It’s a nice way for them to unwind and experience anime for themselves.”

Currently attendance at Anime Monday maxes out at about eight young adults, but Olea hopes to encourage more attendees by including snacks and alternative activities in the future.

The Berwyn Public Library, located at 2701 Harlem Ave., has been hosting Anime Mondays for about one and a half years. Anime Monday takes place every Monday from 4 – 5 p.m.


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Mission House Café Serves Coffee and Compassion

by Lauren Pinkston



Mission House Café, tucked away in a renovated Victorian home in South Berwyn, brings customer service and community outreach together by using profits from serving food and beverages to benefit local and global charities.

The café’s handcrafted refreshments and rustic atmosphere makes it stand out from the average coffee shop.

Berwyn’s Assemblies of God Pentecostal Church runs the café; its children’s pastor, Joshua Brniak, manages it on a day-to-day basis.

“My goal as the manager is to provide a warm and inviting environment while serving the highest quality coffee and food around, meet and build connections within our community, and provide a meeting place for people from all walks of life,” Brniak said. Continue reading

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‘Pinkolandia’ receives three stars

By Elisa Juliano

Maritza Cervantes as Beny and Hannah Gomez as Gaby in Pinkolandia. Photo Courtesy of Anthony Aicardi.

Maritza Cervantes as Beny and Hannah Gomez as Gaby in Pinkolandia. Photo Courtesy of Anthony Aicardi.

Chicago Tribune writer Kerry Reid gave the 16th Street Theater’s performance of “Pinkolandia” three stars in her review.

Reid said ” light and projections design, soundscape and a spare but retro set” allowed  audience members to easily transition between imaginary and real scenes.

Reid also stated under director Ann Filmer’s guidance adult actresses made for “believable kids.”

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Comedian films at local lounge

By Elisa Juliano

While most of the crowd at Cigar and Stripes BBQwere enjoying beers, 12-year-old Trevor Burke was sipping chocolate milk waiting to perform.

On Feb. 5 comedian Trevor Burke filmed the pilot for his new reality TV show at the neighborhood restaurant and bar in Berwyn.With cameras, microphones, and directors on deck Cigar and Stripes BBQ looked more like a Hollywood movie set.

“I’m kind of transforming from a kid doing stand-up comedy and acting into something huge,” said Trevor.

The show will follow Trevor’s journey to perform comedy while often being rejected by clubs because of his age. Trevor, a St. Charles resident, is only 12-years-old, most clubs have a 21 and over age restriction.

Trevor said his humor appeals more to adults than children.

While most were drinking beer and cocktails Trevor Burke sipped on chocolate milk.

Trevor Burke taking a break and playing on his phone.

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Bubbles and magic in the air at local laundromat

By Elisa Juliano

The World’s Largest Laundromat had a few tricks up its sleeve, presenting customers with a magic show and free pizza this Wednesday.

James Sanden, a local Chicago magician, entertained the children of customers with card tricks, disappearing acts and balloon animals for about two hours. Customers also snacked on free cheese and sausage pizza delivered fresh every 20 minutes.

In the past the laundromat has hosted other magicians such as Mary Macaroni.

According to his website, Sanden has performed in Japan and Costa Rica, in both Japanese and Spanish.

The laundromat does pizza night every Wednesday and free coffee and donuts daily. Sanden is set to perform again at the laundromat on Feb. 16 at 4:00 p.m. and March 12 at 5:00 p.m . For more information visit

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by | February 2, 2014 · 7:07 pm

Berwyn business is booming

Existing businesses are improving and new businesses are opening all across Berwyn. In August, Mayor Lovero said  business development would be something to keep an eye on in Berwyn, and he was right.

“There were approximately 50 businesses that opened in 2013,” said Business and Licensing Supervisor Anthony Perri. 

This success can be attributed to business assistance provided by Berwyn Development Corp. Total investment in TIF areas, including Roosevelt Road, Harlem and Cermak, Odgen Avenue and the Depot District, rose from $4,135,141.74 in 2007 to $8,330,957.23 in 2012, according to Development Executive Director Anthony Griffin.

“There is a comprehensive approach set by the city of Berwyn that allows business to start up and improve,” said Griffin.

Berwyn Development Corp. has a number of programs and services to help with improving commercial areas and stimulating business growth, including TIF financing, commercial loans, micoloans, site location assistance, and technical assistance. 

“There have been more restaurants opening, giving Berwyn a more diverse food culture,” said Berwyn resident Iridian Hernandez. “It’s also good that Berwyn has more places to shop, and hopefully that will attract more young people to the community.”

“We take great pride in helping existing business adapt to new trends and helping new businesses open,” said Griffin.

All of the projects completed in 2012 include Meijer, Big Guys Sausages, Wing Boss, The Vitamin Shoppe, Verizon, Play N Trade, Off the Traxx, Karasek Park, J.D. Byrider, Lou’s Pizza and Beef, Collision Centers of America, Start the Party, Capri Ristorante & Catering, Bounce Sportsplex, Reel Art, Riddles Comedy Club and Chipotle.

For updated information on current and completed projects, visit

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“Broken Fences” breaks through original closing date

By Lauren Reiniger

Photo by Anthony Aicardi Pictured: Daniel J. Bryant as Hoody, Ryan Czerwonko as Esto, Scott Allen Luke as Czar and Kirsten D’Aurelio as April

Photo by Anthony Aicardi
Pictured: Daniel J. Bryant as Hoody, Ryan Czerwonko as Esto, Scott Allen Luke as Czar and Kirsten D’Aurelio as April

The 16th Street Theater’s production of “Broken Fences” has extended its run because of high demand for tickets. It was scheduled to close Oct. 26, but is extended to Nov. 9.

But the theater won’t be making money off this box-office bonanza. To date, the box office sold 1,079 tickets and made $14,842. The theater only has 49 seats and four shows a week. This production cost the theater $28,000, excluding staff salaries, according to Artistic Director Ann Filmer.

“We are grateful individuals and foundations have donated to bridge the gap between income from ticket sales and what is actually costs us to produce a play. Because we are dedicated to keeping our theater affordable, we don’t want to raise ticket prices above our current $18,” said Filmer.

Set in Chicago, “Broken Fences” is about a white couple who move in next door to an African-American couple in a transitional neighborhood. It’s a story that utilizes heartbreak and humor and focuses on the themes of racism, displacement and community.

Filmer wanted to stage this play since 2009. She has known playwright Steven Simoncic since 2004, and was finally able to produce and direct this play with Ilesa Duncan from Pegasus Players.

Filmer first called Duncan to ask her to direct the play, but Duncan proposed to direct together.

Filmer said it was a challenge.

“I can honestly say I was scared to death. How is this done? Who takes the lead when? We had to face each other every day,” Filmer said. “As we got deeper into the process, it was so clear we needed both of our perspectives in the room. It became a richer production by having two directors.”

The 16th Street Theater is located at 6420 16th St. in Berwyn. Tickets are available online at

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Berwyn’s 45th Annual Houby Festival: still upholding tradition?

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by | October 7, 2013 · 10:12 am

Into The Retrospect in 22

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By: Jonathan Salamanca

It was one night of retrospect and street photography on Berwyn’s Cermak Road.

Berwyn’s 22 owners Jessica Calek and Dan Streeting hosted Unreported—a one-night only photo exhibit open on April 27 from 7 to 10pm. Unreported displayed the work of Dan Streeting and Anthony Calek. With a comparatively unique approach both photographers relied on a documentary and street style of photography to display their works of art.

“I like to play with people and their daily lives. I like to look and let things happen—and they do,” Anthony Calek said, “most of my images feature people or shadows of people so there is generally some human contact involved. Most of my work is candid as well. I don’t stage anything.”

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Calek’s images were taken in sites all across Europe in places he has either visited or lived. For Unreported Calek drew from some reflection photographic images to show his documented collection of his life and travels. His work captures the life of others on a daily basis through some mirror reflection pieces.
Streeting’s Unreported images come from a collection of photos he’s taken over a span of 10 years documenting the his friends, strangers, and environments.

“It’s almost something I do on site and on the side—aside from my graphic designer. It’s really a dairy for me. So looking over these photo’s I’ve taken over the past ten year are a look into my own diary.” Streeting said.

Streeting’s collection was taken on a film camera while Calek’s works were all digital. This was Calek’s last gallery exhibit in America for at least a year. Calek is moving to Sweden next week.

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Brand new sportsplex “Bounces” into Berwyn

By Jackie Glosniak

The professional baseball players at Wrigley Field and “The Cell” have long struck-out for the season, but in the heart of Berwyn’s Depot District, young local athletes continue to perfect their swings during the cold winter months at Bounce Sports.

At the new sports complex, at 3310 Grove Ave., the smell of fresh paint, the crack of baseballs on bats and the swoosh of soccer balls into nets greets patrons at the front door.

Bounce Sports is a new indoor sports facility catering specifically to youth active in travel sports.  The location features over 17,000 square feet of batting cages, pitching tunnels, a turf practicing field, and a basketball court. The business is centrally located for youth club baseball, softball, soccer, and basketball teams in nearby suburbs. Continue reading

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Shhhh!… No more noise

By Nicole Foley

Living in a city most people expect there to be a lot of noise, but Berwyn has put an end to this assumption with a noise ordinance, banning unnecessary and unusual noises from vehicles.

The Berwyn police started enforcing the ordinance recently.

“The ordinance was put into effect because of the number of people that would drive the street blasting their stereos,” said Police Chief Jim Ritz. “They would do it at all times of the day, including late at night when people are trying to sleep.” Continue reading

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Berwyn Vehicle Sticker Contest

By Lavell Garner

It’s that time of the year again, and it’s not because it’s the holiday season. Berwyn is kicking off its annual city-wide competition for the design of the 2013-2014 city vehicle stickers.

Entrants must be enrolled in 5th through 8th grades and must live within the city of Berwyn.

Creativity is key in this competition.

The subject matter of the design can be pretty much what the individual desires. The design being presented must be the individual’s own creation.

Entries must be sent to Ruth Volbre, Berwyn City Hall, 6700 W. 26th St., Berwyn, IL 60402 by 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013.

More information and submission form for the competition visit,

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16th Street Theater announces new schedule

By Rene Howard-Paez

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The 16th Street Theater located at 6420 16th St., in Berwyn’s Cultural Center has announced its 2013 schedule.

The theater will present five shows under the title “American Dream”

The first show slated to open the season is, “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs 2.0” (Jan. 10-Feb. 2.) According to the 16th Street Theater website, this show is about America’s most mysterious technology icon turned into a hilarious tale of pride, beauty and lust.

Another big show following “The agony and Ectasy of Steve Jobs 2.0,” is “Empanada for a Dream” (Feb. 14-March 16.)

This show comes to the 16th Street Theater after a sold-out-run at the Barrow Group theatre. It was also performed as part of the Yo Solo theatre festival in Los Angeles. This story follows a love-struck man on the Lower East Side of New York who returns to his childhood home, which brings back funny and scary memories.

Following this hit show is “Living Large in a Mini Kind of Way” (April 4-May 11.) Here Chicago’s all-Latina theatre company Teatro Luna brings its unique mix of humor and honesty to the 16th Street Theater. This sharp exploration of the American dream focuses on two Mexican-American sisters, one assimilating into US culture, the other struggling with citizenship status.

The closing show at the theater will be “Broken Fences” (Sept. 19-Oct. 26.)

Broken Fences examines culture, race and socio-economics in a modern American town with humanity, dignity and humor.

More information and ticket prices can be found at, or by calling (708) 795-6704

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Building blocks and minds at Berwyn library

By Anthony Garcia

Legos and building blocks have long been in a Toys R’ Us near you and now at the Berwyn Public Library on 2701 Harlem Ave., where multi-colored towers and buildings have become the norm.

The Berwyn Public Library Youth Services have been hosting several events at the library based around the creativity of kids from age 7-12 since early September.

Many of the Lego building events have specific themes as well such as a Back-to-school theme and Halloween as well.

Marissa Garcia, a Youth Services Librarian at the Berwyn library explained how the idea of Lego @ your library began.

“The original introduction of the Lego @ your library program was brought to us by one of our past Youth Services librarians, Jackie Warkentien. She was very in tune with the current trend, as Lego programs have popped up at many public libraries as of late,” Garcia said. Continue reading

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A new definition of “Dog Tag”

By Nicole Foley

Storefront walls, alley gangways, vacant buildings, and now – dogs? Gangs are known for displaying their signs in public places to declare their name and territory, and recently they found a new way of doing so.

On Halloween, in the neighborhood streets of Berwyn, a pit bull was found wandering the streets with a gang tag spray painted onto him. A nearby resident called animal control to have it removed. When animal control found the dog they contacted the police right away, having found an odd symbol that had been recently spray painted onto the side of the dog, according to resident Jessica Stricken. The police arrived on the scene and identified the symbol as a gang sign, she said.

“It’s not unusual for there to be cops around, especially on Halloween, but when I saw a pit bull sitting in the middle of all the chaos I wanted to know what happened,” she said Stricken came out to see what the commotion was about because she could see that an animal was involved.

“They made sure to keep that side of the dog facing them. I guess they didn’t want us to see (the gang sign),” said Stricken, who did not know what symbol was on the dog.

Berwyn police could not be reached for comment on the incident.

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Knitting for a Good Cause

By Jackie Glosniak

While knitting  may just be a relaxing past time for some, one group of Berwyn women has turned their hobby into a wholehearted effort for charitable causes.

On the first and second Sat. of each month, the Knitting and Crochet Guild of Berwyn meets at the Berwyn Public Library, creating outerwear, blankets, and more for many local charities.

Josephine Tucci founded the Guild 9 years ago, fueled by both her passion for knitting and her yearning to help other out.

“We make blankets for Project Linus, and hats, mittens, and slippers for PADS shelters,” Tucci explained. “We have also made scarves for the Special Olympics in the past.”

The Guild also frequently hosts fundraiser sales to raise money to buy yarn for their charity work.

“Out next event is on Saturday, Dec. 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Second Floor Elevator Lobby here at the library,” Tucci said.

At the sale, tables will be set up featuring all of the Guild’s most recent creations, and donations are also greatly accepted.

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by | November 17, 2012 · 10:53 pm