2018 Events List for Downtown Aurora...

2017 was a year full of festive events in downtown Aurora, and 2018 looks to be continuing the trend of an ongoing community party in the heart of the state’s second largest city. Aurora Downtown, a nonprofit group of business and property owners within downtown Aurora’s Special Service Area (SSA) #One, will continue to sponsor and host several events in downtown including First Fridays, a night of art and culture, and Second Saturdays, a summertime event with family-friendly activities. The group is also teaming with Aurora’s Harry Potter Festival for a two-day festival, and will partner with Family Focus for Roots Aurora, as well as the City of Aurora for Winter Lights. Take a look at the full list of exciting events in the New Year brought to you by Aurora Downtown, City of Aurora, and other local groups. Please note that there is no First Fridays in January or July. First Fridays returns on Feb. 2 with art, music, and more plus free trolley rides. Second Saturdays runs from May through September with the exception of June.  February 2. First Fridays March 2. First Fridays 24. Egg Hunt on the Island 29. Museums After Dark April 6. First Fridays 21. Fox River Arts Ramble May 4. First Fridays/Food Truck Festival 12. Second Saturdays 19. Aurora Kite Festival 28. Memorial Day Parade June 1. First Fridays “Illinois Bicentennial” 9 & 10. Aurora’s Harry Potter Festival 20. Wednesdays at the Plaza 21. Museums After Dark July *No First Fridays* 4. 4th of July Parade 14. Second Saturdays 15. On the Wall Hip Hop Festival 18. Wednesdays at the Plaza August 3. First Fridays/Stolp Island Block Party/Roots Aurora 11. Second Saturdays 15. Wednesdays at the Plaza 25. Alley Art Festival TBA. LaSalle Street Auto Row Car...

New public art director puts focus on community-led experiences...

The city of Aurora welcomed Jen Evans this fall as the Aurora Public Art Commission’s new director after former director Rena Church retired in June. Evans first worked with Church and the commission in 2006 as a teacher for ArtWorks, a dual credit program for area high school students. In her new role as director, Evans wants “to provide residents with community-led experiences, education and leadership opportunities in the arts, contribute to the vibrancy of the city through public artwork, and oversee an alliance of cultural stakeholders in the city.” Evans is excited to add more public art within the city: “Something that is interactive with the community, and not just a static sculpture. Something that kids can climb on or in or through; something that’s just dying for a selfie, something that’s really engaging.” The “Swimming Stones,” the moving fountain sculpture located on Benton Street is a prime example of this sort of interactive public art, Evans added. It is this sort of engaging style that Evans is inspired by, and is the direction she hopes to follow for future installations downtown. Evans is also focused on education and engagement. She is looking to create opportunities for local artists and community members to give them space to lead and teach their own art classes and curate shows. Evans plans to utilize the space on the first floor of the David L. Pierce Art and History Center at 20 E. Downer Pl. for these informal art classes led by the community. “You can come organize a poetry slam, or you can come make a mess,” she said. She added that the focus does not even have to be on visual art. Evans is interested in promoting a sense of community cohesion and wants to...

Aurora Film Society launches film screenings in 2018...

A local group aims to bring more films to downtown Aurora. The group of Aurora residents formed Aurora Film Society (AFS) this September to accomplish that goal. AFS was formed to serve as an educational, social, and local resource that provides a shared cinematic cultural experience based in the city center. The film society will offer monthly screenings of curated films as well as special events such as single screenings and festivals that focus on genres such as documentaries, animation, children’s film, and music. The screenings begin in January at the Aurora Regional Fire Museum, 53 N. Broadway. The 2018 film series includes 12 films on alternating Thursdays. If membership is large enough, the group will offer two screenings a month. The movie loft, located on the second floor of the museum, seats approximately 60. Yearly subscriptions are required to attend the monthly film screenings. Three subscription levels are offered. The basic level at $50 includes one admission to each monthly film screening. Admission is transferrable, but not refundable. For more information on subscription levels or to purchase a subscription, visit aurorafilmsociety.org. Karl Nicholas is the board president. Board members include Jeanne Norris, Kyle Reeves, Vicki McCoy, Karen Nicholas, and Helen Ratzlow. “These screenings will be held downtown so as to avail ourselves of local restaurants, pubs, and bars for post-screening discussion. Our special events and film festivals will draw patrons from the wider region, with the likely result of more patronage to downtown businesses,” Norris...

2018 Aurora’s Harry Potter Festival returns in June for two days...

Save the Date! Aurora’s Harry Potter Festival will be returning for two days in 2018. The popular festival started by local mom and teacher Kate Purl casts its spell on downtown Aurora on June 9 and 10. Tickets will go on sale on March 24 at 9 a.m. through EventBrite. Visit cityoflumos.org for more info as it happens on ticket sales. Vendors are also encouraged to visit the website as Diagon Alley will be returning to Water Street Mall. Aurora’s Harry Potter Festival is partnering with Aurora Downtown, a non-profit organization of business and property owners, to present the 2018 festival. Proceeds from the festival will be split by local non-profit organizations. If a 501(c)(3) organization is interested in being one of the beneficiaries, visit https://cityoflumos.org/info/ to learn more. Visit Aurora’s Harry Potter Festival on Facebook...

Aurora Botanicals grows fun ideas, plans spring opening in downtown Aurora...

Kristin Ludwig currently runs Aurora Botanicals from home, but she will soon be bringing the business to downtown Aurora. Ludwig plans to move her indoor garden, specializing in manageable decorative plants, edible and medicinal herbal extracts, tea enhancers and organic honey to 13 S. Broadway by next spring. Ludwig, a biologist, plant biochemist and single mother, moved to Aurora’s West Side historic district years ago and “felt at home in a town for the first time,” she said. Before recently founding Aurora Botanicals, Ludwig started out her career in product development in plants, going around the globe finding and researching new plants for one of the largest horticultural companies in the world, Ball Horticultural Co. located in West Chicago. Ludwig then moved into the industry of cancer and medical diagnostics, taught horticulture classes at various colleges, moved from Aurora to Grayslake and back to Aurora again where she settled into the ventures of corporate development, launching businesses for clients and “helping to supply everything a business needs.” Moving back to Aurora only within the last year, Ludwig took notice of the great beautification of the city, all the newly planted flowers in pots and storefront gardens. Having seen this resurgence first-hand, she decided, “I’m in,” she said. Ludwig wants to target both decorators and seasoned gardeners, but also appeal to people who might not think they could have success with plants. Ludwig’s plants, though oftentimes exotic, require low maintenance. Her garden offers a multitude of soilless plants and plenty of bromeliads, or plants with no roots. And so, she added, her plants and plant-made artwork are perfect for apartments and urban settings. Ludwig will carry a storybook theme throughout the building with Aurora Botanicals being an Alice in Wonderland themed garden shop. Eventually, Ludwig...