Metra Holiday Train With Santa And Mrs. Claus

Sold out in record time, Metra’s Christmastime Holiday Train went on sale last week on November 1st. It looks as though it’s becoming a mainstay annual tradition. When it was first introduced last year, it was only offered on the Metra Electric Line (which shuttles between Northwest Indiana and Downtown). But as announced in the August 2023 issue of My Metra Magazine, Metra CEO James M. Derwinski said that because the Holiday Train was such a success and sold out so quickly, it seemed clear that there was clear demand.

Santa, Mrs. Claus and their helpers visit train riders on only three select days. For Tinley Park and most Chicago Southlanders, they will be on the Rock Island Metra line on December 9, 2023. 

But don’t worry parents, Holiday Trains have been becoming quite a thing these last few years, and more are cropping up by the year it seems to me. Two that looked the most oppulent are:

Chicago’s Union Station Polar Express Train Ride Experience

The Polar Express Train Ride at the Monticello Railway Museum

Illinois was and still is a major train hub for the United States, so it totally makes sense that Holiday Trains are becoming something the state is becoming known. Check out to learn more about this growing trend and what’s happening with railways and train things in our country.

New Kids On The Block Coming To Town

Tickets to the boy band New Kids On The Block’s Magic Summer 2024 Tour went on sale November 3rd, and Tinley Park is the second stop. Tickets for that June 15th concert date go as high as almost $800 for the special V.I.P. package.

The tour is about bringing back the magic of their 1990 tour of the same, which was at the height of the band’s popularity. And DJ Jazzy Jeff and Paula Abdul will be their special guests on the tour, which signals so much 90s nostalgia in store.

Banging Gavel Opening Arriving Soon

A little birdie told me that Banging Gavel, the new brewery and restaurant that is bringing back the historic Tinley Park Vogt Building to its former glory is opening December 14, 2023! You heard it here first.

Long awaited, much anticipated. It’s official! The community, beer aficionados and historians alike, have been anticipating the opening since Banging Gavel purchased the building in June 2017 and began restoration.

The official grand opening celebrates the first introduction to Banging Gavel’s beers brewed on site at The Vogt House, with the first beers on tap being a few new styles from Banging Gavel, including a Saison, a Berliner Weisse, a Vienna, and a Dry Irish Stout.

WHEN: Thursday, December 14, 2023 beginning at 4:00 P.M.

WHERE: The Vogt House by Banging Gavel Brews (17400 Oak Park Avenue, Tinley Park, IL)


  • JT Rea, Banging Gavel head brewer
  • Jim Richert, Banging Gavel Brews president
  • Beckie O’Connor, Banging Gavel Brews brand marketing director
  • Kyle O’Connor, Banging Gavel Brews business development
  • Ed Richert, Banging Gavel Brews treasurer
  • Ed Nemec, Banging Gavel Brews director of operations

Also in attendance will be representatives from the Village of Tinley Park and Chambers of Commerce, 44 Business Capital, Berkshire Bank, Altus Works Architecture Firm, Urban Innovation Construction, SHPO Illinois and more.

Official Grand Opening Celebration Weekend

But wait there’s more in store! An entire grand opening celebration weekend! Check out the plans:

Thursday, December 14:

  • Firkin Tapping at 4:00 P.M. by Banging Gavel Head Brewer JT Rea on the front porch with Jim Richert, Beckie & Kyle O’Connor, Ed Nemec, Ed Richert, a Tinley Park Representative along with our emcee Joe Matise, Lead Singer of The Walk-ins, and Tinley Park Resident.
  • 4 P.M. – 5:30 P.M. Complimentary passed apps throughout the building.
  • Music will play from 4:30 P.M.  – 9 P.M. on the 2nd Floor.
  • 5:30 P.M. – 9 P.M. Regular menu available.

Additional Drinks Options:

  • Holiday cocktails:
    • Cranberry/Rosemary Moscow Mule
    • Pomegranate French 75
    • Gingerbread Tom & Jerry
    • Wine
    • Seltzers
    • Non-alcoholic beverages.

Friday, December 15

  • The Saul Good Trio plays from 7 P.M. – 10 P.M.


Saturday, December 16

  • Brunch Buffet with Santa from 10:30 P.M. – 1:30 P.M. Limited number of seats for adults and children.
    • Music from Railway Gamblers from 7 P.M. – 10 P.M.

Sunday, December 17  

  • Music from Joe Orozco 5 P.M. – 8 P.M.
  • Bears Game will be aired (either Saturday or Sunday 12/16 or 12/17, based on game time).


Building Tours available the week of December 18.


Sunday, December 31

  • A Great Gatsby New Year’s Eve Event


In the meantime, enjoy the progress photos and videos on Banging Gavel’s Project webpage:


About Banging Gavel Brews

Brothers Jim and Ed Richert took a homebrew class in 2013, which lit the flame. Ed’s daughter, Beckie and her husband, Kyle O’Connor, joined the cause as founding partners. This family-owned craft brewery has developed 28 styles of beers and introduced them at various local craft beer festivals and craft beer shops since 2014. JT Rea joined as head brewer in 2021 and Ed Nemec came on board in 2023 as executive chef and director of operations.

Sports Talk Chicago Expands Across The Web To Regional Syndication

23 year old Victor J. Andrew High School Alum (Tinley Park) Jon Zaghloul’s burgeoning radio program officially hit regional syndication radio show Sports Talk Chicago. 

He has been making a name for himself for quite some time, but in 2020 he finally started getting more recognition. “There are broadcasters who have not accomplished this much in 20 years in the business,” wrote my colleague Jeff Vorva for the Daily Southtown in one of those first profiles on Zaghloul

Going from internet-based radio show to regional syndication in three years is artful in these very stratified media times. Here’s everything you need to tune into Sports Talk Chicago

Bill Murray Possible Future Joliet Slammers Owner

Probably my favorite piece of news from last week was the report that legendary actor Bill Murray and businessman Mike Veeck are reportedly set to purchase a controlling stake in local minor league baseball team Joliet Slammers (yes, the name is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the prison there). 

Scott Slocum of Joliet’s news radio station WJOL, 1340-AM, reported that on the night of November 1st Joliet Slammers season ticket holders were informed that Bill Murray is buying the Joliet minor league baseball franchise.

Random? Actually, not as much as you may think. I can only speculate, but the elements of why most likely come from these elements:

Bill Murray grew up in the now affluent northwest Illinois suburb of Wilmette. He’s a big sports fan, who started the independent minor league baseball team St. Paul Saints in 1993 with Veeck, back when Independent baseball was all but extinct and seen as a joke. Millennials will remember him in Space Jam (1996) and everyone remembers when he was here when the Chicago Cubs finally won the 2016 World Series. And who could forget his friendship with fellow Chicagolander John Belushi (star of the classic comed Blues Brothers, in which the City of Joliet plays quite a role)? So for me it’s clear to see the personal, nostalgic, and legacy elements that could explain Murray’s presence in the purchase of the Joliet Slammers.

Who is Mike Veeck you ask? Welp, he has deep sports roots. His grandfather, William Veeck Sr., was president of the Chicago Cubs. His father, Bill Veeck was a Hall of Fame owner of the St. Louis Browns, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox and the then-minor league Milwaukee Brewers. Mike Veeck’s father also, notably signed Larry Doby, the first African-American player in the American League—the second African American to break the color barrier after Jackie Robinson, who was the first signed in the Major League Baseball (MLB). But Mike himself is The Saint of Second Chances, as he is called by the title of the very new Neflix documentary about his family’s dynasty, released just two short months ago. There’s some infamy woven in the fabric of Veeck’s tapestry, what with the Disco Demolition Night that turned into a riot on the White Sox field. The story of the Veeck’s is worth diving into for sure, lots of lessons about redemption and inspiration to be absorbed for sure.

After being blackballed from baseball as a result of that fateful night in July 1979—Mike Veeck bounced back and has owned several minor league baseball teams and independent baseball teams for decades, and elevated them to being taken more seriously. He’s a baseball promoter and innovator (hustler is bandied about quite a bit as a descriptor of him as well), giving communities and baseball athletes chances that are usually discounted if you can’t make the majors or if you don’t live in a major metropolitan downtown.

In learning about both gentmen (Mike Veeck and Bill Murray), I’m really excited and intrigued to see what happens if they really do end up becoming part owners of the Jolier Slammers.

Southside Shuttle Taking A Break

Here’s one of two pieces of sad news I want to share. Firstly, the very ingenious Southside Shuttle Chicago annouced on Facebook on November 2nd that they are temporarily closing. 

Independent shuttle services have been popping up I’ve noticed over the last five years, but Southside Shuttle Chicago was the first to service the Chicago Southland. Shuttle services for the unfamiliar serve as chariots for bachelor and bachelorette parties, weddings, airport transprt, party buses, etc. A safe chauffeering service for bigger groups. Some call them minibuses or even small buses, but no matter the name used, a shuttle bus is a critical tool for many businesses. And even the Village of Tinley Park is getting in on the concept with their Ale Trail Trollery.

Back when I was on the Village’s Marketing and Branding Commission, talks of having trolleys for getting people around Tinley Park were discussed. And I do hope that idea can be realized in the future. Trolleys are such a lovely, whimsical, and wholesome American mode of transport, don’t you think? But beautiful and efficient things take planning and proper monetary fullproofing so they add and don’t drain a town’s resources. The Village of Tinley Park’s Ale Trail I think will be a great test of how far the concept can feasibly go. And it just so happens that the Banging Gavel is one of the stops on the Ale Trail! 

Bob Bong Gone

This bit of sad news is from three weeks ago—longtime local reporter Bob Bong announced on October 20th that is staid Comings & Goings column will no longer appear in the Daily Southtown Newspaper (acquired by the Chicago Tribune in 1994). Bong shared that he will continue on other platforms, including Facebook and his own Southwest Regional Publishing website.

“So, keep reading!” — Bob Bong (October 20, 2023 2:58 PM (CST) on Facebook) 

I first heard of Bob Bong back when I did work for Palos Community Hospital in 2016-2017 (later acquired by Northwestern Medicine in late 2020). A certain person I won’t name said he was quite important because of his small but fiercely loyal niche readership. And so when I briefly joined the Daily Southtown I was excited to see his name again. I took it as a sign that he was getting the recognition he deserved and was on his way to becoming better known à la Roger Ebert, except with having a great nose for sniffing up news. Therefore, finding out that his column was taken out of the Southtown bummed me out. The newspaper business has been struggling for about twenty years now, and one guess I could make about Bong’s booting could be budget cuts. Journalists deserve to be paid their worth though.

But don’t worry about Bob, he’s Editor In Chief over at the century’s old Desplaines Valley News (since 2013), his Comings & Goings is still over at his website: (since 2009), and serves as Assistant editor at South Holland Today (since 2009) and remains the founding partner and content manager at Southland Savvy (since 2010).

A New ‘Central Perk’ Coming To Tinley

To end on a perkier note, Tinley is also getting another new coffee shop! 

Just a short 7 minute jaunt north of the 80th Avenue Train Station (inside of the Tinley Junction strip mall), Bean ‘N Coffee will be opening.

So not only is Downtown Tinley getting a new café and restaurant coming to the Oak Park Avenue Train Station (Krema Coffee Roasters following the sudden departure of Cavallini’s). And the beautiful thing about these pieces of news are the fact that they are small independent cafés. 

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