On the Scene
Stacy Leak and Kenisha Lones and their families will celebrate together. /photo by Jackie Spencer 0

July 4th parties–from simple to grand

June 28th, 2016

Chicago’s most prominent families embrace the Fourth of July with a passion–whether atop a city high-rise or in a suburban backyard, watching fireworks or listening to the buzz of family, grilling burgers or slicing up a beef tenderloin.

For Stacy Leak and Kenisha Lones, who have been married just six weeks, it’s about the holiday shuffle.

Instead of trying to squeeze in time with both sets of parents at their respective homes, Leak’s family–the owners of the Leak & Sons Funeral Home–will join the Loneses at their annual July 4th barbecue in Crete.

Stacy Leak is executive assistant to TV Judge Greg Mathis and chief of staff at the family’s funeral-home business. Lones is public relations executive assistant for June Rosner Public Relations.

The Lones’ party already includes a large, extended family. Lones’s mom has five sisters and her dad has 15 siblings. Add spouses, children, extended family, friends and the Leaks and you’ve got one big bash.

Not to worry, says Lones. “If you’ve been to Crete, you know the yards spill into big open spaces,” she says. Plenty of room for all the grills (up to six), dozens of chairs, tents, stage for the band–and bigger family.

Lones’ father, Robert Lones, a retired Soft-Sheen manager, does most of the cooking.

“We’ve been doing this as long as I can remember,” says Kenisha Lones. “The best part is knowing that every year that’s the one event that I get to see everyone.”

Seeing “everyone” is part of the fun attending the July 4th party hosted by Latham & Watkins Partner and DNS Capital investment company CEO Michael Pucker and his wife, filmmaker Gigi Pritzker–an heir to the Hyatt Hotel chain.

Guests are encouraged to bring a swim suit for a dip in the pool at their Libertyville farm, where the party is held. There’s music, dancing, grilling and fireworks. The guest list is a who’s who of notable names in Chicago business, politics and culture. No surprise, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and her family have attended. (Gigi and Penny are cousins.)

U2’s Adam Clayton/by John Athayde

Rhona Hoffman’s annual party is more laid back, but she’s had her share of head-turners drop by the party at her Harbert, Mich., vacation home. A few years ago U2 guitarist Adam Clayton even showed up (he’s a friend of a friend). “The entire beach went bananas,” recalls Hoffman, owner of Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago. For the most part, though, Hoffman says her annual soiree is low-key. The simple menu includes cheeses, hummus, guacamole and smoked salmon–and brats if you stay late enough for dinner.

Talk-show host Jerry Springer will be in Evanston celebrating with his family. There’s a baseball game involved. Springer also has a tradition of reading one book each summer on American history. This year it’s “Hamilton,” of course.

Dr. Ian Smith, the celebrity fitness doctor and author, plans on grilling steaks at his home in Hyde Park. Don’t think for a minute he’s abandoning his famous “shred” diet. He says he’ll make up for all the calories by playing golf and tennis in the morning.

Chris Kennedy’s birthday is July 4.

Chris Kennedy, the Chicago businessman and son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, and Terry Mazany, president and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust, will hear “Happy Birthday” sung at their respective family gatherings. Both men were born on the Fourth of July. Mazany will be in Oregon. And Kennedy will be on the East Coast celebrating with more than 100 Kennedy cousins.

Chef Art Smith is among those working the holiday. He’ll be in Washington, D.C., preparing fried chicken for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s annual party for embassy leaders. “It’s the most American of meals. Fried chicken takes no (political) sides,”he says.

Ken Norgan, a former McDonald’s franchise owner, is hosting a few neighbors and friends at his Harbor Country home–including one from Switzerland. So along with beef tenderloin sliders, he’ll be serving “toast skagen,” a Swedish appetizer made with shrimp, crème fraîche, shallots, and fresh dill.

On the guest list: caterer George Jewell (no, he’s not cooking), Harris Theater President and Managing Director Michael Tiknis and his wife, Sharon Tiknis, executive vice president of the Alford Group; Chicago businessman Brad Griffith and his wife, spa owner Tiffani Kim; retired American Airlines exec Bill Hood and his wife, Kirkland & Ellis Partner Vicki Hood.

Like so many parties this year, Norgan’s is actually July 3, when the beach is lit up by fireworks and camp fires.

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