Metro-East News

Five Things to Do This Weekend: Take the (polar) plunge and meet some neighbors

Mary Cooley
Mary Cooley

Some weeks, it’s mighty hard to write this column. Like when it’s International Polar Bear Day, and the polar bear is one’s very favorite animal, and journalistic integrity requires one to write about it in one’s Five Things To Do This Weekend Column — but all one really wants to say is “Stay away! I want to see Kali all by myself!”

Sigh. See how I suffer for you. Polar Bear Day on Saturday at the St. Louis Zoo. Keeper chats. Free. Go. Enjoy.

Polar Plunge

You can take full advantage of International Polar Bear Day by taking the Polar Plunge at noon Saturday at Carlyle Lake’s main beach. Minimum donation is $100 to take the plunge, which benefits Special Olympics athletes, and check-in starts at 10 a.m. Their goal is to raise $105,000, and as of Friday the Special Olympics crew was about halfway there. Justin Dunning, of the Special Olympics of Southern Illinois, says about 500 people will take the plunge.

“It’s going to be beautiful,” Dunning said. “Last year it was about 18 degrees, and tomorrow it’s about 60. But the water’s still freezing cold.”

Dunning says last year the event raised $108,000, with about half of that coming in the day of the event. For more information, go to

Meet your neighbors

The Metro-East Interfaith Partnership offers ethnic food and fellowship at it’s “Getting to know your Muslim Neighbors” event from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The Rev. Lana Gilbert, of Community of Christ, asks that you do not wear shorts, and women are asked to cover their heads at the Belleville Mosque and Islamic Education Center, at 4525 Old Collinsville Road in Belleville. The Rev. Gilbert says scarves will be available at the mosque.

The Mosque’s parking lot is cozy, so there will be a free shuttle from the Lake Christine Shopping Center at 2:45 p.m., and the shuttle makes the return trip at 5 p.m.

Racial Harmony

More than 40 kids from Belleville, Cahokia, Centreville, Dupo, East St. Louis, O’Fallon, Scott Air Force Base, Shiloh, Smithton, Swansea and Washington Park will be honored at 3 p.m. Sunday at Grace Church, 5151 N. Illinois in Fairview Heights, for their efforts at keeping the peace.

The Annual Racial Harmony event will include a program with Belleville West’s Harambee group. It’s an event “strictly to honor the youth,” says Racial Harmony’s Rose Wilson.

She says grades do factor in to the school’s nominees for the recognition, but each child is picked by the school for his or her peacemaking skills. For more information, contact The Center for Racial Harmony at 618-234-0508 or email

African Ball

It’s the second annual African Ball for the Katherine Dunham Foundation on Saturday. Last year’s inaugural ball’s attendance suffered due to snow; organizers are hopeful that this year’s expected sunny warm weather will hold. The music, entertainment and dinner will start at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Jazz @ Walter Circle ballroom, at 1001 N. 15th St. in East St. Louis. Tickets are $35.

Broadway Pops

If music is your thing, then Lindenwood’s refurbished auditorium is the place to be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday or 3 p.m. Sunday.

The Masterworks Chorale and Children’s Choruses will be singing from “Oklahoma,” “Guys and Dolls” and “Candide,” plus the best of Big Band era. Buy tickets in advance for a $5 discount by calling 618-304-9094; at the door they are $20 adults, $15 seniors and military and $10 students.

Clay Olympics

Pottery teams are going to be testing both their skill and their wit in a benefit for Governor French Academy’s art programs from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Louis Tiemann Gallery, 223 W. Main St. in Belleville. Clay events include the blindfolded bowl, no-hands rose holder and tallest tower, and the winner will be named the Mightiest Mud Eye Marvels of the Metro-East. Food and drinks by Hemingways Zen Garden will be available for purchase, and music will be by guitarist Roger Drinnon. For more information email or go to Facebook for Clay Olympics, Belleville on Facebook.