The Villager
Going Buggy for Cicadas

The cicadas have begun to emerge, and many of our Beverly/Morgan Park neighbors are cringing. But a few are capitalizing on the cicadas’ first arrival in 17 years.

In preparation for the emergence, Maureen Harrigan retrieved a shoebox marked “Open in 17 Years” from her closet. Inside were examples of the high fashion cicada jewelry that she and Mary Shiels created and sold back in 1990. Harrigan and Shiels are not planning on going back into production – their children who were happily pressed into labor gluing googly eyes onto painted cicada shells nearly two decades ago, have more productive summer employment these days.

Harrigan and Shiels had some fun modeling their cicada wear for the camera.

There’s a synergy in the work that chainsaw artist Ben Schlitz carved during the Home Tour at the Beverly Arts Center. Schlitz uses tree trunks – the preferred home of cicadas – for his works, and the new one is a bulge-eyed cicada. While taking a break from the carving, Schlitz noticed his first cicada sitting in a nearby tree – probably attracted by the sound of the chainsaw. He used the bug as a live model. Schlitz’s finished cicada is displayed at the west end of the BAC parking lot.

The Chi-Town Kids, comprised of Beverly/Morgan Park natives Chris Walsh, Ryan O’Malley and Mark Wlodarski, may have Chicago’s first hit song about cicadas. While the bugs were still digging out of the earth, the group had written and recorded the song that anticipated their arrival: “So much courage when I was a little one / My daddy always said "Cicadas harmless son" / 17 years ago but now the cicadas back.” By May 24, the song had made enough buzz to be played on Q101 and The Mix, and was even mentioned on Channel 5 news.

Walsh, O’Malley and Wlodarski, best friends since they met in kindergarten at Sutherland School, have been making music together for many years and remember the cicada visit 17 years ago. (“I wanna see ‘em / Fly up in the trees / High... / I remember the cicadas / They're back again / And they brought a whole bunch of friends / Chillin in the trees / in the grass, in the mud / They even on my Mr. Sub.”

They formed the Chi-Town Kids in 2002, and have a following for their humorous rap-style songs. You can hear the whole song online at the Chi-Town Kids MySpace,

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