City’s unhoused population fight to stay warm after storm, Field Museum workers file for union election and more in your Chicago news roundup

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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A man, who declined to give his name, sits outside the city’s only 24-hour warming center Dec. 26, 2022. Though it was supposed to be open, the center locked its doors at 7 p.m.

Zack Miller/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a five-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will be partly sunny and chilly with a high near 27 degrees. Tonight will be breezy with wind gusts up to 26 mph with a low of 25 degrees. Tomorrow will be mainly cloudy, and we will see the start of much warmer weather, with a high of 43 degrees.

Top story

City’s unhoused population ‘do what they can’ to get through still-freezing temperatures

Jerry Elkins was leaving the city’s only 24-hour warming center to head to a shelter Monday night. He said the “high winds and cold temperatures” had brought him to the warming center, though he had struggled to get there due to a series of epileptic seizures affecting his mobility.

“My body’s a wreck,” Elkins said outside the Garfield Community Service Center at 10 S. Kedzie Ave. “Living out on the streets in these cold temperatures doesn’t really help.”

Although it’s supposed to be open while temperatures are below freezing, the doors of the warming center were locked at 7 p.m. Some seeking to escape the cold banged on the doors until a staff member opened them, others walked away.

When asked how he had gotten by on nights before coming to the warming center, Elkins said, “I do what I can.”

As many struggled to book flights and trains due to continued inclement weather Monday, many of Chicago’s unhoused were just trying to make it through the night.

The winter storm that battered the Midwest with low temperatures and high winds has moved on, but the National Weather Service had much of Northern Illinois under a “hazardous weather outlook” and warned of “limited excessive cold risk” Monday night.

Temperatures were poised to stay above zero with no chance of additional snow and 20 mph gusts not returning until Tuesday afternoon. The danger, however, remained, as hypothermia can still occur when temperatures are above freezing.

Luckily for some, Pilsen’s Andy Robledo — who has helped set up orange tents designed for ice fishing — said those in his tents had been able to brave the elements nearly unscathed, though he said it was “still hard out there.”

Zack Miller has more on how Chicago’s unhoused are fighting to stay warm after the storm here.

More news you need

  1. Unless a judge steps in, Illinois is poised to become the first state to completely eliminate cash bail, expanding an approach that has seen some success across the country even as it’s been vilified here. Matthew Hendrickson has more on the debate on the Pretrial Fairness Act here.
  2. Humboldt Park is getting 24 new homes — all built in a West Side warehouse. The plan calls for 24 single-family houses on vacant, city-owned lots surrounding Laura S. Ward Elementary School in West Humboldt Park. The builder, Inherent LC3, installed the first home in August and is weeks away from delivering the second and third. Our Michael Loria has more here.
  3. Starting January 1, 2023, Illinois will be ringing in the new year with an amended smoke detector law. The state’s Smoke Detector Act will soon require Illinois homeowners to replace their old smoke detectors with new and improved alarms that use a 10-year sealed battery.
  4. Staff at the Field Museum said Tuesday they have filed for a union representation election to decide if they join the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Our David Roeder has more here.
  5. Weary travelers are still dealing with canceled flights and missing luggage Tuesday. As of 1:20 p.m. Tuesday, 251 flights had been canceled at Midway, 77 at O’Hare.
  6. When three seasoned comedians endure a pandemic together, write a musical sketch comedy show about their experience, then schedule a performance in Evanston in 2021 only for that show to then be canceled due to said pandemic, all they can do is try again. “Vic & Paul & Dana’s Post-Pandemic Revue,” opening Thursday at Evanston’s Studio 5, benefits from a boosted process this go-round.
  7. Two men are in police custody after an early Christmas Day Red Line robbery left a man injured in the River North neighborhood. The third robber has not been found.

A bright one

Families kick off Kwanzaa with children’s museum celebration

A few dozen kids and their parents gathered at a children’s museum Monday afternoon in Calumet Heights on the South Side to commemorate and learn about the first day of Kwanzaa.

The secular seven-day holiday celebrating African American culture features seven guiding principles, and it kicked off with its first: unity, or Umoja.

Children sat around tables listening to lessons by Margaret Galloway, a docent at the Bronzeville Children’s Museum at 9301 S. Stony Island Ave. The kids sang songs, shared how they would change the world and used crayons to decorate masks symbolizing the holiday’s seven principles.

One girl said she would change the world by trying “to be the bigger person.” Others said they would “try to stop racism” or “make a healthy dinner for my family.”

“I’m loving what the children are saying,” Galloway said. “I love when I see their light bulb come on.”

Children holding electric candles sing “This Little Light of MIne” at the Kwanzaa event.

Children holding electric candles sing “This Little Light of MIne” at the Kwanzaa event. The celebration runs Dec. 26 through Jan. 1.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Time

Kwanzaa, celebrated from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, was created in 1966 by scholar Maulana Karenga to unite African Americans in the wake of police brutality protests in Los Angeles.

Peggy Montes, founder and president of the Bronzeville Children’s Museum, said the holiday hasn’t gained the mainstream traction it deserves. But she has enjoyed seeing more and more families come out to the museum’s educational and interactive event every year since it started 24 years ago.

“I’m hoping that they take that information, not just to be observing for one day, but for the whole year,” Montes said of the families in attendance. “That’s what the seven principles are about. It’s a guideline to how they should be living their lives through the year.”

Nader Issa has more on the celebration here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕️

Did the Southwest Airlines chaos screw up your travel plans this holiday weekend? Tell us how.

Reply to this email (please include your first name and where you live) and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

On Friday, we asked you: What’s the best way to be a good neighbor amid a winter storm?

Here’s what some of you said…

“Be the man on the block with a large self propelled snow blower. Nothing people appreciate more than not having to shovel in 0 degree weather.” — Anita Kyle

“I’m headed to the Jewels… need anything?” — Dave Downer

“Don’t steal shoveled parking spaces, do shovel and salt the sidewalk in front of your home.” — Adrienne Perry

“Bring their trashcan back along with yours due to the winds.” — Michael Shane Stacy

“Checking to make certain that they have heat, plenty of food and, if necessary, shovel their walks.” — Randy Volz

“Plow driveway, sidewalk and take them cookies or cakes! Maybe wine..if you have extra.” — Dixie Ferguson

“Bring them dinner.” — Joan Elsenbast Ruddy

“Shovel snow for those who aren’t able. Clear their stairs, driveways, sidewalks, salt the areas. check on them, etc. Clear around hydrants.” — Agnes Magdalena

Thanks for reading the Chicago Sun-Times Afternoon Edition.Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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