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Flake Fest

Evergreen Park Flake Fest will be held from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 at Yukich Field, 89th Street and Kedzie Avenue. Event will feature children's activities the fire station from 1 to 4 p.m. and open skate from 4 to 6 p.m.

Candy Capital

"Chicago: Candy Capital of the World," will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17 at the Worth Historical Museum, 11500 Beloit Ave. in the Terrace Centre. For much of its history, Chicago produced about one-third of the nation's candy. Author Leslie Goddard will discuss her book, "Chicago's Sweet Candy History," during a free program. Registration not required.

Antique Market

The Evergreen Park High School Athletic Boosters' 2nd annual Indoor Garage Sale and Antique Market will be held Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Evergreen Park High School main gym, 99th Street and Kedzie Avenue.

State of Oak Lawn

The Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce will hold the 3rd annual "State of the Village" address Tuesday, Feb. 12 at the Hilton Oak Lawn, 9333 S. Cicero Ave. Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann will address issues such as infrastructure, taxes, and the village's short- and long-terms plans. Registration and networking begin at 11:30 a.m. Lunch is at noon followed by the State of the Village at 12:15 p.m. For reservation contact the Chamber at 424-8300 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Job Fair

Saint Xavier University's Office of Career Services will hold its 2013 Spring Job Fair from noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13 in the Shannon Center at the university's Chicago campus, 3700 W. 103rd St. Fair is free and open to the public.

A bout 20 employers are expected to attend the fair and recruit for full-time, part-time, and internship positions. Attendees are advised to dress professionally and bring plenty of copies of their resumes. Companies scheduled to attend include Chicago Education Project, Citizen Schools, Elim Christian Special Education School/Services, Enterprise Holdings, Echo Joint Agreement, Hoopise Financial Group, Indian Oaks Academy, Ingalls Memorial Hospital, Moraine Valley Community College, Northwestern Mutual, Palos Community Hospital, Prudential, Rush University Medical Group, Standard Bank and Trust Co., TCF Bank, The Menta Group, Tinley Park Police Department, and the U.S. Army Healthcare. A full list of employers is available at sxu.edu (keyword: job fair).

For more information call (773)298-3131.

Outdoor Hockey

Tickets for the Outdoor Hockey City Classic, to be held Sunday, Feb. 17 at Soldier Field, are $40 and available at the Evergreen Park Recreation Department office, in the Maher Community Center at 3450 W. 97th St. Games scheduled include Notre Dame vs. Miami (Ohio) at noon, and Minnesota vs. Wisconsin at 3: p.m.

Library Notes

Evergreen Park

After School Homework Help is offered Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Both teachers are bilingual (English and Spanish).

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The Evergreen Park Public Library is at 9400 S. Troy Ave. The phone number is 422-8522.

Green Hills

Sue Peltzer from Delicious Creations will present a program on decorating cupcakes for any holiday at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12. Samples will be provided.

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Erik S. Gellman will present five myths of late 1960s Chicago history at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20. Gellman will address the campaign of Martin Luther King Jr., the Democratic Convention of 1968, and the assassination of Fred Hampton as points of departure to understand the context of social change and its repression during the era.

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Teen Pizza & Movie Night featuring "The Avengers" will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21. There will be free pizza and pop. One winner will receive a copy of the movie.

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Family Movie Time featuring "Puss in Boots"will be at 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22. Each attendee gets popcorn and lemonade.

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"How the Beatles Re-Imagined Rock 'n' Roll: 1967-1970" will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26. Presentation will show the Beatles broadening their artistry, performance and promo clips, rare photographs, and unreleased audio of the group at work.

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Painting Owl Craft for youths 5 years and older will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28. Children can take home an owl craft bank.

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Adult Winter Reading Club through Feb. 25 will commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Prizes include a Nook Color, Kindle Fire, gift certificates to local restaurants and bookstores, and more. Register at the information desk or at greenhillslibrary.org.

Youth Winter Reading Club, "Reading is SNOW Much Fun!" for youths in kindergarten through eighth grade will be during the same period. Weekly prizes will be awarded. Register at the youth services desk or at greenhillslibrary.org.

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The library has an eBook service, Axis 360, through which users can download bestselling eBooks for as many as 21 days directly onto a device using the Blio software application. Titles automatically expire atthe end of the lending period and there are no late fees. Place holds on items that are checked out. Service is only available to Green Hills cardholders. To start browsing visit http://ghpl.axis360.baker-taylor.com. For more information call 598-8446.

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The library is collecting first-person accounts of stories of military service to be donated to the Veteran History Project of the Library of Congress. The library is seeking photos, memoirs, and wartime diaries from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Call 598-8446 for more information.

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The library offers Freegal Music, a downloadable music service that provides access to the Sony Music Entertainment catalog. The catalog offers hundreds of thousands of songs in more than 100 genres of music.

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The Green Hills Public Library is at 8611 W. 103rd St. in Palos Hills. The phone number is 598-8446.

Oak Lawn

A coffee and recipe tasting with chef Kate Bradley will be Thursday, Feb. 21. Event will feature a review of recipes for mint chocolate shortbread, cappuccino muffins, spice cake and oatmeal cookies. Advance registration and $5 fee are required. Food samples will be provided. Sign up at the library's Reception Booth.

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Drums Around the World, a free family program for children of all ages, will be from 3 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10. Joseph Arteaga and Friends will present an interactive music event featuring percussion instruments and rhythms from around the globe.

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A "Movie and Dessert" fundraiser for the Oak Lawn Community Library Foundation will be Thursday, Feb. 14. Event includes a screening of the drama "Chocolat" (PG-13) and sweets provided by local bakeries and restaurants. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., film starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person. Register and pay (cash or check) by Sunday, Feb. 10 at the library's Reception Booth. Tickets will not be sold the day of the event.

Proceeds benefit the Oak Lawn Community Library Foundation, a nonprofit organization governed by volunteers.

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A free jazz concert featuring Petra's Sweet Six will be from 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17. Chicago jazz vocalist Petra Van Nuis teams up with five musicians to play the tight two-horn arrangements of Joe Policastro. The group's songs conjure up a sound reminiscent of jazz vocal recordings of the 1950s, full of flavor and feeling. No advance registration required.

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A free family movie, "Academy Awards Shorts," will be Monday, Feb. 18 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. It will feature an assortment of Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning short animated films starring Superman, Bugs Bunny and more. H eart Failure in 2013

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Dr. Gregory Macaluso of Advocate Christ Medical Center will present "Heart Failure in 2013" at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20. Macaluso will discuss the signs and symptoms of heart failure, new treatment strategies, and when to see a specialist.

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Free screenings of "Trouble with the Curve" (PG-13) starring Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams and John Goodman will be at 2 and 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25. An ailing baseball scout in his twilight years takes his daughter along for one last trip.

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"Awards Season at Your Library" for kindergartners through fifth-graders will be from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26. Children can vote for their favorite character, book, illustrator and more each week at the Youth Services Desk. A limited number of guests will dress in their best awards outfit, walk the red carpet and have their pictures taken. Advance registration is required.

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"The Middlesteins" by Jami Attenberg is the February selection for Day & Night Reads, the library's bi-monthly book group for adults. Attenberg's novel centers on Edie and Richard Middlestein, who share a solid family life together in the suburbs of Chicago. But things are splintering apart, in part because of it Edie's fixation on food - thinking about it, eating it - and if she doesn't stop she won't have much longer to live. Discussions will be held at 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27.

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Teen Game Night for sixth- through 10th-graders will be at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13. Youths play on Kinect, Wii and Dance Dance Revolution game systems, and may bring their own controllers and video games (rated up to "T" for "Teen"). Snacks and drinks provided. No advance registration needed.

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A free lecture on the opera "Rigoletto" will be at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24. A member of the Lyric Opera Lecture Corps will explain the plot, play musical selections and give background on the composer.

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"Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum" with Food historian Cynthia Clampitt will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26. Clampitt will discuss why pirates are associated with the Caribbean; the connection with coffee, tea and chocolate,; and how rum was involved in uniting the United States' original 13 colonies, and how it was one issue that led to the American Revolution.

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The Oak Lawn Community Library Foundation will present a "Movie and Dessert" fundraiser Thursday, Feb. 14. The Valentine's Day event includes a screening of the drama "Chocolat" (PG-13) and sweets provided by local area bakeries and restaurants. The film starts at 6 p.m.; doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person. Register and pay (cash or check) by Sunday, Feb. 10 at the library's reception booth. Tickets will not be sold the day of the event.

In "Chocolat" a woman and her daughter open a chocolate shop in a small French village that shakes up the rigid morality of the community. Starring Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp and Alfred Molina.

Proceeds from the fundraiser benefit the Oak Lawn Community Library Foundation, a nonprofit organization governed by volunteer community members. The Foundation was started in 1993 to seek private sector support for maintaining the excellence of materials and services offered by the Oak Lawn Public Library.

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The library now offers movie check-out for free. Check-out periods are seven days with no renewals. Oak Lawn residents may check out up to 10 films at a time.

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The library offers "Temporary Online Patron Registration." Fill out a registration form at oak lawnlibrary.org/librarycards2.shtml, and visit the Circulation Desk within 14 days to receive a permanent card. Proof of residency in Oak Lawn is required.

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The library has the newest and most popular titles and resources in its collection of eBooks, Blu-Ray and DVDs (movies and TV series), CDs for a range of music interests, and hard copy books. The library also has a language learning program and databases. During September, new library card-holders will add a leaf to the tree in the Cook Avenue foyer and be eligible to enter a drawing for a book of their choice (one child prize and one adult/young adult prize up to $35 value each). Cards are available to Oak Lawn residents at the Circulation Desk. Bring an ID and proof of address.

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The library offers "Accessible Archives," an electronic resource available at oaklawnlibrary.org. Click on the "Research" tab and select the icon for "Accessible Archives." The collection features historic periodicals and books and provides eyewitness accounts and editorial observations of events, genealogical records, county histories and Godey's "Lady's Book" - a magazine published to entertain, inform and educate women of America. The Civil War collection is noteworthy and presents coverage based on various historical perspectives.

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The Freegal music service is available on the library's website, oaklawnlibrary.org. Patrons may download up to three songs a week from the Sony catalog with their library card. Freegal includes millions of songs and requires no software to install. Files that can be played on any device including iPods. For more information visit oaklawnlibrary.org.

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The Oak Lawn Public Library is at 5300 W. 95th St. The phone number is 422-4990.

Worth

The library subscribes to Zinio, an online magazine stand that enables patrons to read magazines on computers, tablets or phones using web browsers and apps. Must have Worth Library card. Zinio is accessible at worthlibrary.com.

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The library offers Try-It Illinois, which allows access to 300 free databases from more than 40 vendors. Access Try-It at worthlibrary.com (login and password is available at the library).

Park Clips

Evergreen Park

Step & Strength Training is from 9 to 10 a.m. Monday and Wednesday, 7 to 8 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday, and 6:45 to 7:45 p.m. at the Community Center, 3450 W. 97th St.

Hickory Hills

A preschool open house will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20 at the Cynthia Neal Recreation Center, 8047 W. 91st Place. Event is for parents who want to enroll children in a program for the first time in the 2013-14 school year. An informational pamphlet on preschool programs will be available, or call 598-1233 to have one mailed.

Palos Hills

The Resource & Recreation Department will offer programs at the Activity Center, 8455 W. 103rd St.

Parent and Tot classes for children 2 to 3 years old and a parent are from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Cost is $30 for Palos Hills residents, $35 for non-residents.

Huggy Bear Twos is Thursday, Feb. 28 to April 4.

Engineering Fundamentals with LEGO for third- through fifth-graders is Feb. 13 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Cost is $20 per student.

Cooking/Craft classes for children 7 to 10 years old are Tuesdays, 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. Cost is $12 per student.

Valentine's Day Sweet, Salty and Saucy will be Feb. 12.

Green & Lucky St. Patrick's Day will be March 5, Hopping Into Spring will be March 26.

Disney Dance Class for children 6 to 10 years old will be Saturdays from 1 to 2 p.m. Cost is $25 per session.

Oak Lawn

Registration is underway for before- and after-school FLASH (Fun & Learning After School Hours). The park district has partnered with Ridgeland School District 122 and Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 and is in all of those districts' elementary schools - Columbus Manor, Harnew, Kolb and Lieb in District 122, and Covington, Hannum, Hometown, Kolmar and Sward in District 123. For more information call the FLASH director or the FLASH assistant director at 857-2420.

Worth

The Worth Park District Historical Museum is offering a bus-and-walking tour of Historic Pullman Town from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, March. Fee is $33 and includes a light lunch. Registration deadline is Feb. 20.

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An antique appraisal with professional appraiser Rex Newell of Rex's Antiques will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 20 at the Terrace Centre, 11500 Beloit Ave. Appraisals are available for the first 40 patrons for $5 an item. Only one "hand-held" item permitted. Call 448-7080 to register. Deadline is March 6.

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Little Club offers benefits such as free indoor playground usage. Fee is $10 resident, $15 non-resident. For more information call the park district.

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Jazzercise for persons age 16 years and older will be from 9:20 to 10:20 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 9:15 to 10:15 a.m. Saturday; and 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday at the Terrace Centre, 11500 Beloit Ave. Fee is $37 monthly for an Easy Fit Ticket and a registration fee of $25. For more information call 448-7080 or visit worthparkdistrict.org.

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The Terrace Centre, 11500 Beloit Ave., has an indoor playground featuring slides, a climbing wall, tree house and more for children who can walk through 4 years old. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Fee is $1 for residents, $2 for non-residents. For more information call 448-7080 or visit worthparkdistrict.org.

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The Worth Park District Historical Society meets at 7 p.m. every fourth Wednesday of the month at the Worth Historical Museum, in the Terrace Centre at 11500 Beloit Ave. Meetings are open to the public. Membership is free but is not required to attend.

Volunteers are welcome to come to the museum from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays to assist with projects. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Curator hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday. For group visits call 448-7080, Ext. 107.

Back Country Roads to perform at kick-off for OL Relay For Life

The American Cancer Society Oak Lawn Relay will present a concert featuring Back Country Roads at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22 at the Hilton Oak Lawn.

A dmission is $15 and all funds will be donated to Oak Lawn's Relay For Life.

Relay For Life is an overnight event where teams of local businesses, schools, churches, community groups and families build awareness and raise funds that go toward cancer research, patients and awareness. This year's Relay For Life will be held July 20 at the Oak Lawn Community Pavilion. Volunteers are needed to organize and recruit teams, secure community support, coordinate logistics, obtain refreshments and prizes, assist with publicity and plan entertainment activities for this exciting and energizing event.

For more information contact the American Cancer Society at 633-7770 or visit Relayforlife.org/oaklawnil. Teams may register online.

Travel Troubleshooter

By Christopher Elliott

Sleeping alternatives: Bunking with the locals

These days, when I travel to Europe, I usually sleep in hotel rooms or bed-and-breakfasts. But in my early travel days, I routinely found places where I could sleep for free or very cheap. In Austria, I had "dear parents" who were actually the parents of my sister's ski instructor. In London, my hosts were friends of my uncle. Neither relationship was terribly close - until I visited. Now we are friends for life.

I love the idea of creatively finding a free or cheap bed in Europe. One of the best ways to do that is to stay in someone's home, whether you're renting a spare room or apartment, or crashing on your neighbor's cousin's couch. Sleeping where the locals do can provide some of the richest and most memorable travel experiences - often for less than a hotel.

You don't actually need to know someone in Europe to stay at their home. Room-finding services like Airbnb.com can help travelers hook up with locals. Beds range from air-mattress-in-living-room basic to plush-B-and-B-suite posh. Most listings offer you at least a spare room, and many are for entire apartments. Some places offer separate entrances for travelers who want more privacy and limited interaction with their hosts.

If you prefer having the comforts of home without the pressure of feeling like a houseguest, renting an apartment, house or villa can be both convenient and cost-effective. Options run the gamut, from French gites to Tuscan villas to big-city apartments in the heart of town.

A short-term rental is often cheaper than, or comparable to, a hotel, especially if you plan to settle in one location for several nights. Most are equipped with kitchens, laundry, and living rooms, making them especially good for groups and families.

Travelers who are willing to invest time in research can go to sites like HomeAway.com and its sister site VRBO.com, search through a database of listings, then correspond directly with European property owners or managers to negotiate a deal.

Those who want to do less legwork can seek help from a rental agency, which charges a fee but provides pre-screened listings and a staff who will work with you to find an appropriate accommodation. Rental agencies such as Interhome.us and the more upscale Rentavilla.com list places all over Europe, and there are many rental agencies that focus on a specific city or region.

The rental route isn't for everyone. First off, you're generally on your own. While the apartment owner or manager might offer some basic assistance, they don't provide all the services of a hotel reception desk. Unlike hotels, apartments don't include daily towel and sheet changes or regular cleanings.

CouchSurfing.org is a vagabond's alternative to Airbnb. It lists millions of members who host fellow "surfers" in their homes for free. Most do this out of a sincere desire to meet interesting people, and many are in it for the good karma, having couch-surfed themselves. This service is a boon for laidback, budget-minded extroverts who aren't too picky about where they rest their head.

Safety is a concern for any smart couch surfer. My best tip for crashing with strangers: Always arrive with a backup in mind (such as the name of a hostel). If you don't feel comfortable with your host, just leave. Don't worry about hurting their feelings. Never let budget concerns take you outside your comfort zone.

House swapping is another free option. This works best for people with an appealing place to offer, and who can live with the idea of having strangers in their home. Unsurprisingly, those living in swanky Manhattan apartments and beachside villas have the best pick of options in Europe, but you don't need to live in an amazing home to find a workable exchange. Good places to start are HomeLink (www.homelink.org/usa), HomeExchange (www.homeexchange.com) or Intervac Home Exchange (www.intervacus.com).

Of course, there's nothing more culturally intimate (or inexpensive) as staying with a friend, relative, or someone you have a connection with. They don't need to be next-of-kin. If it's the son of your aunt's friend, that's probably close enough. Email your potential hosts, tell them when you'll arrive, and ask if they're free to meet for dinner. It should be obvious from their response (or lack of one) if you're invited to stop by and stay awhile.

If you're afraid of being perceived as a freeloader, remember that both parties benefit. A Greek family is just as curious about me as I am in them. Armed with pictures from home and a bag of goodies for the children, I make a point of giving as much from my culture as I am taking from theirs. In the end, whether you're paying or staying for free, you'll likely be greeted with genuine enthusiasm and a warm welcome.

( Rick Steves (www.ricksteves.com) writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. Email him at rick@ ricksteves.com and follow his blog on Facebook.)