2020 Friends of the Chicago River Events: Chicago River Day, Chicago River Summit, Big Fish Ball and More

The year ahead looks like another busy one for Friends of the Chicago River. The dates for some of our most important events have been set, so mark your calendars!

Chicago River Student Congress, February, 29

Students from city and suburban schools gather annually at the Chicago River Student Congress to share knowledge and celebrate each other's efforts to improve the Chicago River. This year's theme is climate change. Students from across the watershed learn how they are part of a regional effort to improve and protect the Chicago River and how to become next-generation advocates for its care. Friends' Chicago River School Network has reached more than 400,000 students since its launch in 1996.

Students and teachers interested in attending should contact Friends' Ecology and Outreach Manager Mark Hauser at mhauser@chicagoriver.org

Chicago River Summit, March 12 

Managing stormwater on a watershed-wide scale using nature-based solutions has myriad benefits including improving public health, reducing sewage and stormwater pollution, and increasing native wildlife habitat. Save the date for Friends' 2020 Chicago River Summit to learn from experts from across the country about how they have developed and employed successful nature-based approaches for coordinated stormwater management and reduced impacts on their cities and natural resources.

The summit is an annual event intended to drive policy change and expose elected officials, stakeholders and other decision makers to new ideas and approaches that will improve the health of the Chicago River system for people, plants, and wildlife.  .

Last year's summit on the blue/green corridor of open space approach to river-edge development attracted more than 120 people and media coverage from the Chicago Tribune and WTTW.

Chicago River Day, May 9

Friends' annual cleanup and land restoration event attracts about 2,000 volunteers to more than 60 locations across the region. First held in 1992, Chicago River Day has resulted in tons of trash being removed from the Chicago River system as well as land-based improvements.

Chicago River Day is a great way for you or your group to volunteer at city and suburban sites to help show your appreciation for our great river, get some outside exercise, and have some fun. Participants receive a free T-shirt depicting one of the river's many living creatures. Chicago River Day supports out goal of a litter free Chicago River. More than 500 tons of trash and invasive plant material have been removed in the event's history.

Contact Friends' Volunteer and Events Coordinator Annette Anderson at aanderson@chicagoriver.org

McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum Opens, May 9

Our museum on the Chicago Riverwalk last year saw its 250,000th visitor since its opening in 2006. Located in the landmarked southwest bridgetower of the Du Sable Bridge at Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive, the museum tells the story of the river's transformation from a wild prairie stream to a sewage and ship canal to the living waterway it is today. Put a visit to the museum, the only tourable bridgehouse, on your 2020 to-do list. See bridgehousemuseum.org for more information.

Big Fish Ball, June 9

Friends' 15th annual Big Fish Ball, Friends' signature fundraising gala, supports our mission. The Big Fish Ball, held at the Westin Chicago River North, includes the opportunity to engage with amazing river wildlife, sip some delicious cocktails, and enjoy a three-course dinner. you'll also have a chance to win incredible raffle packages and bid on silent auction and live auction prizes. An after-party cruise through the sparkling canyons of Downtown Chicago tops the evening off. Contact Friends' Director of Development Kim Olsen-Clark for more information at kolsenclark@chicagoriver.org.

More details on these and other Friends events will be announced at a later date.