5 things to do in McHenry County: Dancing, eagles, historic trains, Sri Lankan food and the Woodstock choir

The Illinois Railway Museum will kick off its 70th anniversary on on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, with North Shore Line Day, celebrating the line which went from Chicago to Milwaukee until 1963. Pictured here is a North Shore Line streetcar. Pictured here is the Electroliner.

1. The first of a new social dancing event series from Crystal Lake Park District kicks off Friday with a Las Vegas theme, featuring crooners, the fox trot and swing dancing.

The event begins each month with a beginner-level lesson lasting about 15 minutes. A partner is not required and rotation during lessons will encourage meeting new dancers.

Participants are asked to wear smooth-soled shoes and comfortable clothes.

All sessions will be from 7 to 9 p.m. at Grand Oaks, 1401 W. Route 176 in Crystal Lake.

Advance registration is required and each session costs $10 for Crystal Lake residents and $13 for nonresidents.

Future dance night themes will include Latin Night, featuring Latin and pop dance music, salsa and rumba, on Feb. 18; Country Night, featuring country music, two step and cha cha, on March 10; Blues Night, featuring the music of the Blues Brothers, slow blues and West Coast swing, on April 22; and Under the Stars Night, featuring the music of Elvis Presley, smooth ballroom, waltz and triple swing, on May 19.

Registration can be completed online at crystallakeparks.org using activity code 231410 or in person at the Crystal Lake Park District Administrative Office, 1 E. Crystal Lake Ave.

2. An “In Search of Eagles” outdoor event will be held 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday at the McHenry, Algonquin and Carpentersville dams, as well as the Williams Bay boat launch in Wisconsin.

Representatives will be on hand from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Friends of Hackmatack Wildlife Refuge, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and McHenry County Audubon Society.

Scopes and binoculars will be available for use at each location, along with guided activities for children. This is a free, drop-in event.

For a map of viewing sites, go to bit.ly/EaglesMap2023.

3. This Saturday, to mark 60 years since the abandonment of the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad, the Illinois Railway Museum in Union will run the operable trains in its collection from this fleet.

The North Shore Line ran between Chicago and Milwaukee from 1908 until Jan. 21, 1963, offering fast hourly trains between the two downtowns as well as commuter service through the North Shore suburbs to Mundelein and Waukegan, according to the museum.

The Illinois Railway Museum has one of the largest museum collections focusing on the North Shore Line, with 18 rail vehicles and a large collection of related artifacts, according to the museum’s website.

The following cars are expected to operate this Saturday: 1915 Brill Coach 160, 1917 Jewett “Silverliner” Combine 251, 1926 Cincinnati Coach 714, 1928 Pullman Coach 749, 1930 Standard ‘Silverliner’ Coach 757 and 1922 “Merchandise Despatch” Car 229.

The museum, 7000 Olson Road in Union, will be open for this event 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and again from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday with favorites like the Nebraska Zephyr and the bilevel suburban train operating.

General admission costs $18 for adults 18 to 64 years old, $14 for children 2 to 12 years old, and $16 for children 13 to 17 and adults 65 and older. Family packages of two adults and three children also are available for $70.

For information, go to irm.org.

The Woodstock Community Choir is returning to the Woodstock Opera House for an afternoon of free entertainment beginning at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023.

4. The Taste of Sri Lanka returns this Saturday after the COVID-19 pandemic led its cancellation of the past three years.

The Blue Lotus Buddhist Temple and Meditation Center’s largest fundraiser of the year, the event will feature traditionally prepared Sri Lankan dishes, raffle prizes, a live auction, and new this year, a cash raffle with a 1 in 100 chance to win up to $5,000.

The event is set for 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday at First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake, 461 Pierson St.

For information or to buy tickets, go to bluelotustemple.rallyup.com.

5. The Woodstock Community Choir will return to the Woodstock Opera House for an afternoon of free entertainment beginning at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Directed by Cassandra Vohs-Demann and assisted by Jessica Buehler, the concert will feature popular favorites from past seasons accompanied by Debra Anderson on piano and a band featuring Jim Seidel, Joe Pesz and Rich Prezioso.

The choir has performed recently on “The Today Show” and enjoyed a growth in membership this year, according to a recent news release.

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