Jazz Greats Honored as Navy Pier Celebrates its 101st Birthday with a Free Star-Studded Concert, Cultural Programming and More

The Fifth Third Bank Centennial Celebration continues with a full day of free cultural programming,
highlighted by nationally-acclaimed performers, E. Faye Butler, Felicia Fields, Victor Garcia and Fred Nelson,
in Lakefront Swing, a free premier music concert in Polk Bros Park Performance Lawns

CHICAGO – 101 never looked so good! Navy Pier, Chicago’s mission-driven cultural district, is celebrating its 101st Birthday on Saturday, July 15 with a star-studded bash and full day of free cultural programming in the new Polk Bros Park Performance Lawns from 11 a.m. through the Aon Summer Fireworks Show at 10:15 p.m. The marquee event is part of the ongoing Fifth Third Bank Centennial Celebration and is another example of the Pier’s commitment to offer guests free, one-of‐a-kind experiences created to inspire, educate and connect communities across the city and globe.

Navy Pier’s Fifth Third Bank Centennial Celebration will be highlighted by Lakefront Swing, a centennial celebration of jazz greats Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie and Lena Horne at 7:30 p.m. at the Lake Stage. The free, live music concert will feature a lineup of world-class performers, including Chicago-natives Felicia Fields, the accomplished actress and vocalist known for her 2005 Broadway debut as Sofia in The Color Purple and E. Faye Butler, decorated theater actress and singer, alongside Grammy Award-nominated trumpeter Victor Garcia – all of whom will perform in tribute to the jazz legends who have inspired their own professional artistry. The entire production will be directed by international icon Fred Nelson III, Aretha Franklin’s music director and former opening act for Ray Charles.

At noon, Fifth Third Bank and Navy Pier will celebrate their second annual give-back to the Chicagoland nonprofit community by presenting the recipients of the 101 Rides 101 Nonprofit Partnerships program. The program awards 101 Chicagoland nonprofit organizations a special package to experience the reimagined Pier – including complimentary tickets to the iconic Centennial Wheel to share with their constituents and the communities they serve. The full list of nonprofit recipients will be published on the Navy Pier website.

Other exciting programming will be offered earlier in the day as the celebration officially kicks off at 11 a.m. with a special opening ceremony at the Lake Stage, featuring traditional Native American drumming and dancing by Seven Springs, a procession by Native Veterans and local community youth dancers, and a vibrant performance by  World Champion Fancy Dancer Larry Yazzie. The cultural performances will resume at 1 p.m. with an African drum performance by Oyotunji, followed by an Asian drum and lion dance performance, presented in partnership with the Chinese Fine Arts Society, at 2 p.m.

Navy Pier also looks forward to welcoming other milestone birthday celebrants as it hosts its second Group Quinceañera Celebration on July 15. As part of the event, the Pier is offering free professional group photos along the lakefront to young ladies celebrating their quinceañera, a popular Latin American and Caribbean tradition which marks the transition from childhood to young womanhood. Those interested in participating are encouraged to register here and gather in their finest quinceañera dress at the base of the Pier’s Wave Wall staircase on the South Dock at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Participants will receive a link to download a free digital copy of the photo, taken by a professional photographer, along with one complimentary ticket to ride the Centennial Wheel. The celebration will also feature free, live musical performances by the popular Mexican band, Sones de Mexico.

Navy Pier’s 101st Birthday also denotes the official opening weekend of the new Polk Bros Park Performance Lawns. The new space, which serves as the setting for many of the day’s festivities, completes the 13-acre Polk Bros Park, Navy Pier’s green entrance and the city’s front yard.
“Navy Pier’s 101st Birthday not only marks another anniversary for the treasured and iconic landmark; it is a shining moment in its long history of being the People’s Pier,” said Navy Pier Chief Program and Civic Engagement Officer Michelle T. Boone. “We look forward to commemorating the start to the Pier’s second century by offering a full day of free arts and cultural entertainment that honors our new programmatic direction and showcases the best of Chicago’s diverse talent. We invite Chicagoans and beyond to join us as we continue the Fifth Third Bank Centennial Celebration, honoring the legacy and future of Navy Pier.”

“Fifth Third Bank is proud to lead the Centennial Celebration of Navy Pier,” said Eric Smith, Chicago Market President, Fifth Third Bank. “We are honored to support the mission of this iconic landmark and join Navy Pier in inviting the people of Chicago and beyond to experience Navy Pier in its second century.”

Navy Pier’s 101st Birthday celebration is free and open to the public as part of the Pier’s ongoing commitment to raising its profile as a mission‐driven cultural organization, with continued focus on offering dynamic and eclectic experiences through meaningful partnerships and programs. As the Fifth Third Bank Centennial Celebration continues in 2017, the Pier looks forward to introducing more exciting and innovative year‐round programming for guests to experience and enjoy for free. For more information on this and other special offerings at the Pier, please visit www.navypier.com.


Patrick Monroe

A Michigan native, Patrick is the Co-Publisher for Vizion Magazine. Having always enjoyed the world of entertainment, he has worked with many talented individuals in the music world including Frankie Ballard, Colin Raye, and many others. Patrick is an experienced actor and singer, having worked on many successful local theater productions, both on stage and backstage. Patrick is also a member is the US Press Association.

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