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Finding love and friendship at Loyola Beach

By Simone Alicea | @svalicea


There are a lot of unromantic things about Chicago’s beaches. You get sandy and sunburned. They’re often crowded. Not to mention the sometimes-poop-contaminated water.

But the beach is also a place where two people can become best friends.

I lived with Lianna for four years, while we were at Northwestern and after we graduated. We shared everything — food, secrets, tragedies, and many, many trips to the beach.

It seemed every spare sunny minute was spent in front of Lake Michigan, in Evanston and later in Rogers Park, eating rapidly melting ice cream, watching fellow beachgoers, or just sitting silently. In those moments, life was easy and warm.

Careers pulled us to different cities, but Lianna and I still talk nearly every day. When I returned to Chicago, I knew I wanted to live close to the lake because it would make me feel closer to her.

For me, a day at the beach is more than just sand in my socks. It’s a reminder that I am loved and that love spans a Great (if sometimes contaminated) Lake.

Two young women, Lianna and Simone, post at the beach and at a concert.
Besties at Loyola Beach in 2016 and at Ravinia in 2021. (Images by Simone Alicea)
💌 We’re sharing Chicago love stories, and we want to hear yours. If you’ve fallen in love in or with our city, email, or text/call (773) 780-0246.


▪️ Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey is not seeking re-election in June, and said he never wanted to lead long term. [CBS Chicago]

▪️ Chi’s first transit riders union launches today. [Streetsblog Chicago]

▪️ The UChicago Medicine health system is bringing a $633 million cancer care facility to its Hyde Park campus. [Chicago Defender]

▪️ You have to see Garfield Park Conservatory’s giant-ass plant. [WBEZ]

▪️ “Abbott Elementary” star Quinta Brunson’s show pays tribute to Philly, but did you know she used to skip school to take Second City classes? [Vulture]

▪️ This week’s must-read

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TODAY: Concerts in Hyde Park, downtown
Explore the contributions of Black women through lullabies, folktales, and more at the “Honoring Our Mothers” performance at the DuSable Museum at 6 p.m. Then, see a genre-bending concert combining hip-hop and improvisation at the Symphony Center at 8 p.m.

SATURDAY: Snowball tournament in Garfield Ridge
Assemble your teams for the ultimate tourney at Wentworth Park Saturday at 11 a.m. (What else is all this snow good for?)

SATURDAY: Argyle Lunar New Year celebrations in Uptown
Take the littles to a Year of the Tiger Storytime at Bezazian Library Saturday at noon, and then see the annual parade, cultural performances, community groups, and more until 4 p.m.

SUNDAY: Open skate & Olympics watch party in West Loop
Bring the kids to skate at Fifth Third Arena while cheering on the U.S. Women’s Ice Hockey Team taking on Switzerland Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

SUNDAY: Stories from the West Side
Community members can reminisce and share stories at San Lucas Church in Humboldt Park Sunday at 2 p.m. These stories will be the foundation of the performance showcase in the spring. 

ALL WEEKEND: Hygge Fest in Andersonville
Like the Danish concept of “hygge,” this annual North Side fest celebrates the simple pleasures of winter-time coziness. Get discounts at participating businesses, eat comfort food, and see live music through Sunday.


Catch up on this week’s episodes!