WBEZ | Beaches http://www.wbez.org/tags/beaches Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Surf's up in Chicago, but where? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/surfs-chicago-where-110665 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/surfing thumb nail.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: We published a version of this story at the the close of summer 2012, but as curiosity about surfing in Chicago never ends (right?), we recently double-checked whether park district policies described below are up to date. They are.&nbsp;</em></p><p>A couple summers ago, Cherelyn Riesmeyer took her kids to a Chicago beach. They had brought their new boogie boards along, which they&rsquo;d purchased on a family vacation a few weeks earlier.</p><p>But when they leapt into Lake Michigan with their new beach toys, Cherelyn says, a lifeguard promptly told her kids that boogie boards weren&rsquo;t allowed on Chicago beaches.</p><p>&ldquo;[My kids] starting referring to the lifeguards as <em>fun guards</em>,&rdquo; Cherelyn says.</p><p>Then, in January 2012, a local surfer was <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/charges-be-dropped-against-chicago-surfer-96500" target="_blank">arrested for illegally surfing</a> at Oak Street Beach. When Cherelyn heard the news, she says, she was in disbelief. But she also wanted answers, so she asked Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Why is surfing not allowed in Lake Michigan?</em></p><p>Turns out, surfing<em> is</em> allowed in Lake Michigan, but it wasn&rsquo;t always, and even now it&rsquo;s not allowed everywhere. In 2009, the Chicago Park District lifted its blanket ban on surfing and all &ldquo;self-propelled, wave-riding board sports.&rdquo; These include: body surfing, stand-up paddling, skim boarding and &mdash; of particular interest to our question-asker &mdash; boogie boarding. The district made the decision after local surfers and activists took a stand against the restrictions.</p><p>One of those activists was Mitch McNeil, chair of <a href="http://www.chicago.surfrider.org/#welcome" target="_blank">Chicago&rsquo;s Surfrider Foundation</a>. He recalls the park district had banned surfing and all flotation devices after a 10-year-old girl drowned off Montrose Harbor in 1988. The girl and an 11-year-old boy were on an inflatable raft when the wind blew them far offshore, according <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1988-04-07/news/8803060938_1_windsurfer-raft-lake-michigan" target="_blank">to a report in the Chicago Tribune</a>. The two apparently jumped off the raft and tried to swim back to the beach. A nearby windsurfer rescued the boy but couldn&rsquo;t find the girl.</p><p>&ldquo;The city reacted drastically [after the incident] and put an across-the-board ban on flotation devices,&rdquo; McNeil says. &ldquo;And a surfboard is nothing else if not a flotation device.&rdquo;</p><p>About two decades later, Chicago-area surfers banded together to reverse the ban, McNeil says. An agreement they worked out with the city lifted the ban on a handful of beaches, but there was an important condition: surfers would be responsible for their own safety.</p><p>So today, surfing is allowed year-round at <a href="http://www.cpdbeaches.com/beaches/Montrose-Beach/" target="_blank">Montrose </a>and <a href="http://www.cpdbeaches.com/beaches/57th-Street-Beach/" target="_blank">57th Street</a> beaches. During the off-season (Labor Day to Memorial Day), surfing&rsquo;s allowed at <a href="http://www.cpdbeaches.com/beaches/Osterman-Beach/" target="_blank">Osterman </a>and <a href="http://www.cpdbeaches.com/beaches/Rainbow-Beach/" target="_blank">Rainbow </a>beaches, too.</p><p>It may seem like a short list (consider that <a href="http://www.cpdbeaches.com/home.cfm" target="_blank">the district operates 27 public beaches</a>), but Mcneil says he and other Chicago surfers are satisfied with the compromise &mdash; at least for now. Turns out, those four beaches get some of the best waves in the city (which can get up to 30 feet high!).</p><p>&ldquo;Each beach has its own kind of wave,&rdquo; McNeil says. &ldquo;Each wave is created by the way the bottom is shaped and how the shoreline is lined up according to the wind. So, we had our hit list.&rdquo;</p><p>Also, it&rsquo;s no bummer there are more beaches to choose from in the winter.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s actually when the best waves happen,&rdquo; McNeil says. &ldquo;You get your best waves in the fall and definitely in the winter.&rdquo;</p><p>But there&rsquo;s good news for Cherelyn, our question-asker, too. Since the park district includes boogie boarding in its definition of surfing, the same rules apply. So those &ldquo;fun guards&rdquo; her kids encountered? Well, the story could have been different at a different beach.</p><p>For specifics on Chicago&rsquo;s surfing and flotation device regulations, you can also read <a href="http://public.surfrider.org/files/Chicago_Surfing_Info_Safety.pdf" target="_blank">this 2009 memo</a> from the Chicago Park District.</p></p> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 16:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/surfs-chicago-where-110665 Swimmers warned of rip currents in Lake Michigan http://www.wbez.org/news/swimmers-warned-rip-currents-lake-michigan-108358 <p><p dir="ltr">Swimmers hoping to take a dip in Lake Michigan Thursday are being advised to watch out for rip currents and big waves.</p><p>The National Weather Service has issued a beach hazard alert until Thursday evening at 9pm. The Chicago Park District has closed down a handful of its <a href="http://www.cpdbeaches.com/">beaches </a>because of the rough surf.</p><p>Park District officials say as of 2:30 this afternoon, lifeguards hadn&rsquo;t spotted any evidence of rip currents, but were closely monitoring the waters.</p><p>Meteorologist Mark Ratzer says north and northeasterly winds of up to 20 miles per hour on the lake are creating waves around three to five feet tall. That can cause some problems for swimmers.</p><p>&ldquo;When the waves kinda move to shore,&rdquo; Ratzer says, &ldquo;And then it sloshes back toward the open water -- especially in the south end of the lake, along the Indiana shore where you have more of a sandy bottom and you get sand bars -- you can get kinda little channels that open up where the water moves back out to open water more quickly and people get caught in those.&rdquo;</p><p>Ratzer says swimmers who get caught should swim parallel to the shore to get out of the current.</p><div><span id="docs-internal-guid-72b1cbdd-5fa6-69cb-1086-62fc5f18429c"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s Morning Producer/Reporter. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</span></span></div></p> Thu, 08 Aug 2013 15:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/swimmers-warned-rip-currents-lake-michigan-108358 What is Cry Crack? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-01/what-cry-crack-104643 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/6141900889_3e4dd93057.jpg" style="float: right; height: 167px; width: 250px;" title="Flickr/Sk8ngDad" /><span id="internal-source-marker_0.013920937558516866" style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Yesterday for New Year&rsquo;s Day we went to visit some friends who have boys ages 2 and 7, which made me strangely sad for the future days when my little baby starts growing up and running around. With that melancholy in mind, I later coaxed the baby into sleeping on my chest as I pursued the great New Year&rsquo;s Day Channel Surf that everyone who partied too hard New Year&rsquo;s Eve enjoys. </span></div><p><br /><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">During the Great Surf, everything is fair game. Which is how I ended up on a couple of minutes of </span><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:italic;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Beaches</span><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">, which is one of those girly movies that is designed specifically to make women cry. What I didn&rsquo;t remember about it was that in the scenes where (spoiler alert) the lady-who-tragically-dies is pregnant, Bette Midler sings &ldquo;Baby Mine,&rdquo; which is like an Easter egg of sadness, as &ldquo;Baby Mine&rdquo; is a sad song from the saddest movie scene in history. Do you know &ldquo;Baby Mine&rdquo;? Here it is. To set it up, little baby elephant Dumbo was roughed up by some bullies, and his mother stepped in to protect him, but she was rewarded by being locked up as a &ldquo;Mad Elephant,&rdquo; so now little baby Dumbo is without his mommy, but he&rsquo;s able to visit her in her elephant jail, where she rocks him to this song:</span><br />&nbsp;</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/CORf1liT9cE?rel=0" width="420"></iframe></p><p><br /><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">I&rsquo;m not kidding that I am crying right now as I type this even though I already cried earlier today looking up this song. This song used to make me cry before I was old enough, I think, to even drive, let alone be a mother, but now, forget it. I also looked up the lyrics (&ldquo;Rest your head close to my heart/Never to part, baby of mine&rdquo; </span><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">&mdash;</span><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;"> that&rsquo;s JUST LIKE ME AND MY BABY) and realized that the lyrics are not just about a mother loving her child but also about a mother protecting her baby from bullies. </span><br /><br /><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">How is it legal that Disney could ever share something so sad with the whole world? A baby who is kept away from his mom because she protected him? Even the mouse in the movie is crying.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-size:15px;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">My husband just came by the kitchen to laugh at me as I cried some more, and he called this song/scene &ldquo;mom kryptonite,&rdquo; but you don&rsquo;t have to be a mom to find this scene sad (as evidenced by my husband&#39;s convenient refusal to watch it.) I think it&rsquo;s just &ldquo;cry crack,&rdquo; something cruelly guaranteed to make watchers cry or to make anybody who really wants to cry, cry. </span></p></p> Wed, 02 Jan 2013 08:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-01/what-cry-crack-104643 Great Lakes beach testing may be too broad http://www.wbez.org/story/great-lakes-beach-testing-may-be-too-broad-95266 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-04/chicago beach_flickr_eric alix rogers.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A new study suggests some beach closures on the Great Lakes can be avoided with a more local approach to water quality testing.</p><p>The findings from a U.S. Geological Survey study were announced Tuesday. The study provides evidence that basing beach closure decisions on local variations in bacteria concentrations can keep beaches open more often, without increased health risks or violations of federal guidelines.</p><p>The study found that water quality testing at Great Lakes beaches may be applied too broadly. The approach may have resulted in more than 650 Chicago-area beach closings between 2004 and 2010 than may have occurred if a more local approach had been taken.</p><p>USGS director Marcia McNutt says "everyone wins" when science can be used to prevent unnecessary beach closures and still protect human health.</p></p> Wed, 04 Jan 2012 15:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/great-lakes-beach-testing-may-be-too-broad-95266 'The alewives are coming! The alewives are coming!' http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-07-07/alewives-are-coming-alewives-are-coming-88625 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-July/2011-07-07/Alewife fish_Flickr_The B&#039;s.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It's summer. We're all enjoying the great outdoors, and some of us are going to the beach. But go back to 1967, and check out <em>Time</em> magazine for today's date, July 7. Chicagoans were battling the alewives.</p><p>An alewife is a type of herring.&nbsp; It's about 7 inches long and weighs a few ounces. The largest concentration of alewives is in the waters off New England. There's even a major street in Cambridge, Mass named Alewife Parkway.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-01/Alewife.jpg" style="width: 419px; height: 196px; margin: 5px;" title=""></p><p>Anyway, during the 1930s, these alewives got into Lake Michigan. Their numbers stayed small because a bigger fish--the trout--would eat the alewives. But then the sea lamprey came along and ate the trout. Sea lampreys don't eat alewives. That left the lake with all these alewives, and no predator.</p><p>The alewife population grew and grew. By the 1960s there were so many of them in the waters around Chicago they became national news. <em>Time</em> was only one of the media outlets that reported the story.</p><p>To be fair, the alewives weren't much of a problem as long as they swam around in deep water and went about their business. The trouble came when they reached the end of their life span. Then we got the grand Alewife Die-Off.</p><p>This became an annual Chicago event, like the swallows returning to Capistrano. One day there'd be a few dead alewives drifting in toward shore. The next day more would arrived. Soon their bodies would be clogging the shallow water or washing up onto the beach.</p><p>Of course, those alewives would be decaying, and you can imagine the smell--well, you probably don't want to. The flies would swarm in and the beaches would be a mess. The city would have to use tractors and bulldozers to clear off the sand.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-01/Beach.jpg" style="width: 425px; height: 242px; margin: 5px;" title=""></p><p>Nobody knows how many dead alewives there were in any one year. Experts said hundreds of millions, maybe a billion. A pilot flying over Lake Michigan saw a ribbon of drifting alewife carcasses 40 miles long.</p><p>Eventually the federal government started putting salmon into the lake. The alewife population went down. Now Chicagoans could once again use the beaches in summer.</p><p>But lately we've been hearing about the Asian carp. If that thing gets into the lake, scientists say it will force out the salmon. With the salmon gone, what will happen next?</p><p>Maybe it's time to start working on a screenplay for a new disaster movie. Call it "Return of the Alewives."</p></p> Thu, 07 Jul 2011 12:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-07-07/alewives-are-coming-alewives-are-coming-88625 Caption contest: Why walk on water when you can use a segway? http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-06-02/caption-contest-why-walk-water-when-you-can-use-segway-87318 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-June/2011-06-02/Seg-2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Worried about bacteria or gangs? Will that deadly combination keep you away from the beaches this summer?&nbsp; It turns out that there are several things you can do along Lake Michigan besides baking in the sun on dirty sand and empty Doritos snack bags. You can walk along the bike path, play chess, find a friend with a boat or take a segway tour. Me? I love the segway tour. You can go as fast as you can with no hands. Just floor it...</p><p>What could possibly go wrong?</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-02/segway-1.jpg" title="" width="500" height="615"></p><p>C'mon, give me a caption. Winner gets a Car Talk mug.</p><p>A friend of mine sent me these pictures last fall, but the weather turned (seriously, a day after) and it wouldn't have made any sense to make jokes about it. But now that we are in Spring/Summer, why not pull them out!?</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-02/Seg-2.jpg" title="" width="500" height="373"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-02/Segway-3.jpg" title="" width="500" height="373"></p></p> Thu, 02 Jun 2011 13:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-06-02/caption-contest-why-walk-water-when-you-can-use-segway-87318