Home | Blog | Columns | Photos | Books | Biography | Links

Barry Schrader


I have been writing a column for the Chronicle most of the time since December 2007, with two breaks, one in 2016 and the other in 2017 when my wife Kay suffered a stroke. They are all archived here.


If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

Archive Page

‘What a difference a day makes’

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist....................................Jan 31, 2020

That song title comes to mind because we all get an extra day this year to spend however we wish.

Leap Year gives us Saturday, Feb. 29. Now some people may have to work that day, but many of us can pretty much grab that 24 hours with gusto and go anywhere, do anything (legal of course) or just stay home and kick back.

I read about some people who used Feb. 29 four years ago to do one good deed, or perform a random act of kindness that day, devoted to helping someone or a group in need. I am sure it made the donor feel better as well.

This column appears just four weeks before this “free” day so you have all that time to plan what to do—if anything. It is sort of like dreaming what you might do if you win the lottery, only this is a sure win.

Of course some of us would like to head for a warmer climate by the end of next month, so here is one

Circle this “free” day on your calendar and begin planning how you want to use this bonus 24 hours that comes around only once every four years.
possibility: Go to Florida for a quick day of fun in the sun. I favor the Sarasota area because my parents lived there some 10 years after retiring.

Checking the flight schedule for Southwest, I found that you can fly out of Midway at 6:10 a.m. Feb. 29, land in Tampa at 9:45 a.m. and stay until the return flight leaves at 7:55 p.m. You would be back in Chicago by 9:55 p.m. Not cheap for one day in the sun, this round trip would be nearly $400. There is a less expensive option; take Allegiant out of Rockford to Saint Pete, but you would need to return on another airline.

While down there I would spend the most time in and around Sarasota, visiting the Ringling Art Museum, maybe have some clam chowder or oysters at Phillipi Creek or the Siesta Key Crab & Oyster Bar, then head out to the beach for a couple hours of tanning. I love to see the Manatees, those big sea cows, so a visit to the aquarium is a possibility. Then head back to the airport. For those willing to extend their visit into Sunday, a stay overnight at an oceanfront hotel is an option.

If you are looking for a “no cost” way to spend 24 hours, you could binge watch several seasons of “Downton Abbey,” “The Crown” or “Game of Thrones” on TV. Or for a small cost (skip the $6 popcorn) take in three or four movies if the ones you like are within a reasonable driving distance.

I would like to hear what other people plan to do or did on Feb. 29 so email or call me by March 1 and I might have some material for another column. Don’t send a postcard while on your dream trip as it won’t arrive in time to meet my deadline.

Only 29 days left to make it happen!

Home | Blog | Columns | Photos | Books | Biography | Links

The columnist can be reached via email at :


or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115