Willie and Johnny at the Park and a full lineup of Summer in Aurora...

This spring and summer brings food trucks, live music (Willie Nelson and Johnny Depp to name two), and a whole lot more to downtown Aurora. Add these festive events to your calendar and don’t miss a thing when things heat up. APRIL Saturday, April 16 & April 30: Picnic at the Plaza with Grumpy Gaucho food truck (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) Saturday, April 30: El Dia de Los Ninos (1 to 5 p.m.)   MAY   Friday, May 6: First Fridays Food Truck Festival/Downer Place Block Party (5 to 10 p.m.)  The Ron Porter Trio at Millennium Plaza (5 to 7 p.m.) Bones Jugs at Millennium Plaza (7:30 to 10 p.m.)   Tuesday, May 10: Downtown Aurora Taste Saturday, May 14: Farmers Market Preview/Aurora Gardeners Plant Sale @ Aurora Transportation Center   Saturday, May 21: Aurora Kite Festival (10 a.m. to noon) @ Jake’s Bagels Vet Car Show (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) @ River Street Lot   Monday, May 30: Memorial Day Parade (noon)   JUNE   Friday, June 3: First Fridays Two Brothers Summer Festival (5 to 11 p.m.)   Saturday, June 4: Two Brothers Summer Festival (noon to 11 p.m.)   Sunday, June 5: Color Vibe 5K @RiverEdge Park   Saturday, June 11: Aurora Farmers Market starts (runs through Oct. 15) (8 a.m. to noon) Aurora Greenfest (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)   Sunday, June 12: Tour de Cure (5 a.m. to 4 p.m.)   Wednesday, June 15: Wednesdays at the Plaza (6 to 8 p.m.)   Friday, June 17: Blues on the Fox (6:30 to 11 p.m.)   Saturday, June 18: Blues on the Fox (2 to 11 p.m.)   Wednesday, June 22: Wednesdays at the Plaza (6 to 8 p.m.) Friday, June 24: Kool and the Gang at RiverEdge...

Bikes, Dreams, and Survivors at April Fool’s First Fridays...

Mutual Ground hosts Survivors’ Art Show at the Santori Public Library as part of First Fridays in downtown Aurora. The show also kicks off of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.   In addition to art, the event features musical performances, poetry readings, and a short theatrical piece. Art pieces are by Mutual Ground’s clients as part of their healing journey and by community members interested in supporting the non profit organization and raising awareness of sexual assault and abuse issues.   The art exhibit includes a silent art auction of work by local artists. The art auction is denim-themed and focuses on the topics of healing, growth, strength, recovery, and survival. All proceeds from the auction will go to directly benefit Mutual Ground.   First Fridays, a night of art, music, and culture at a variety of venues in downtown Aurora, also features an open mic, three open museums, and several art openings.   Pick up a free First Fridays passport at any venue for a full map of participating venues. Return the punched passport at the last venue visited for a chance to win a First Fridays goody bag filled with gifts from downtown businesses.   In April, the following venues are open for First Fridays.   All Spoked Up, 14 W. Downer Pl. Ste. 8, is open for The Bike Show curated by The ArtBar. 6 to 9 p.m.   Ballydoyle Irish Pub, 28 W. New York St., features live music by Elissa Sophia on the deck. 6 to 9 p.m.   Emergent at Metropolitan Coworking, 14 W. Downer Pl., hosts Collective, a group of artists from Chicago. 6 to 10 p.m.   David L. Pierce Art and History Center, 20 E. Downer Pl., offers three floors of exhibits. Aurora Historical Society presents...

Volunteer Rally Excites Community with Volunteer Opportunities in Aurora...

Jenna Gagliano was looking for ushers, Eric Dhom wanted fun and responsible adults, Ramona Wood asked if anyone wanted to get dirty, and I thought I might find a few folks who were eager to join in on the lively arts scene in downtown. We all were hopeful to gather up some generous locals at the first Downtown Volunteer Rally on March 12 at The Riverfront Playhouse on Water Street Mall in downtown Aurora. The public was invited to learn about volunteer opportunities in downtown and throughout the city at the rally organized by The Riverfront Playhouse and Culture Stock with assistance from Aurora Downtown. A couple dozen community members learned about a variety of volunteer opportunities in the area as representatives from several local organizations took to the stage. I spoke on behalf of Aurora Downtown, an organization of downtown business and property owners, and I was joined by local non-profit organizations: Aurora Veterans Advisory Council, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Marie Community Garden Park, Rebuilding Together Aurora, Paramount Theatre, Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry, Humane Society of Aurora, SciTech Hands On Museum, Aurora Historical Society, The Riverfront Playhouse, Culture Stock, and Volunteer Fox Valley. Since Aurora Downtown sponsors First Fridays and Downtown Saturdays, I was excited to tell the audience about how they can get involved in events such as these. First Fridays is in need of venue greeters and we’re also looking for artists, musicians, and other creatives to assist in grassroots events in downtown. I was able to explain the role of Aurora Downtown when it comes to many incredible downtown events; I was followed by Nicole Mullins, who had the chance to describe what happens at an all-volunteer bookstore. We were in a room of big hearts and every organization rattled off...

Leland Legends Coming Soon to Leland Tower...

The tagline of Leland Legends is “laughter, lore and libations.” Helen Nowak and Lauren Jones said the love is there, too. “It’s on the inside,” said Jones, who is the hospitality manager for Karademas Hospitality’s Aurora efforts, which include Leland Tower and the former Elks Club both on Stolp Avenue. Jones is currently focused on the ground floor of Leland Tower that until recently housed Midtown Pub and Grill. Jones, Nowak’s daughter, is working to renovate the location and announced the new name today with Nowak, manager of Karademas Management in Aurora, at a meeting to plan a New Year’s Eve event in downtown. The mother and daughter team are hopeful that the new restaurant will be open by May 1, but they are not announcing an official opening date yet. When open, Leland Legends will serve lunch and dinner and will welcome everyone. “I want it to be comfortable… A friendly, comfortable place,” said Jones, who has a long history in hospitality, but was most recently a certified nursing assistant. Jones said that Leland Legends will be family-friendly and can be a place for a business dinner as well as a casual lunch. A new color palette , a new floor, and some remodeling will welcome diners this spring, but the same good food will remain as chef Carlos Montoya is still on staff. Montoya is known for his fish tacos, nachos, and other favorites. Nowak and Jones are also planning on featuring small, live music acts at the restaurant, which pays homage to the great blues history of Leland Tower, and it’s famed Sky Club, which is now loft apartments. Nowak also announced that the renovated second floor mezzanine will be called Sky Club. The public got a sneak peek of the...

Jewish Exhibit to Open at Art and History Center...

Jewish history and culture in Aurora will be the subject of an exhibit at the Aurora Historical Society at the David L. Pierce Art and History Center (DLP) from March 20-June 4, 2016.   Jewish pioneers began arriving in Aurora in the 1850s and established the first synagogue in 1904, making them among the earliest founders of the city.   The exhibit, featuring artifacts, ritual items and photos, opens on Sunday, March 20 with a reception from 2-5 p.m. There will be refreshments provided by the ladies of Temple B’Nai Israel.  Cindy Michelassi, a Chicago-area rabbinical assistant from Aurora and singer with a large repertoire of Jewish music, will entertain.   The exhibit will be the 10th in the Flavors of Aurora:  Stirred, Not Shaken series of ethnic tributes created by the historical society.   The series began during the 175th anniversary of the city of Aurora in 2012 and has included Luxembourger, Romanian, German, Irish, Italian, Greek, African American, Hispanic and South Asian cultures.   After the March 20 opening, the exhibit will be open Wednesdays-Saturdays from Noon-4pm.  Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.  The DLP Art and History Center is located at 20 East Downer Place.  Street parking is available (in zones from 90-180 minutes) and the first hour of parking across the street in the Stolp Parking garage is free, $1 per hour thereafter.   For more information please visit www.aurorahistory.net or AuroraHistory on...