When it comes to making new pals, Chicago moms are lucky to have a ton of opportunities, from breaking the ice at neighborhood groups to bumping into other new mamas at the park. But what about the dads? The Chicago Dads Meetup Group was created for to fill the social gap for them. It caters to both working and stay-at-home dads that want to catch up a few times each month with the guys, with or without kids in tow.

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From Play Dates to Polar Plunges
Dads with kids ages newborn to 16 that live in Chicago or the ‘burbs are welcome to join the informal group, which is free to join and is run through the Meetup website. The group’s calendar features everything from play dates to family outings to DNOs (Dads’ Night Outs).

Play dates are organized most Thursdays and, additionally, there are a variety of group events offered weekly. There’s a fairly even split between events in the city and ‘burbs, and any member can easily put together an event or a play date and have it posted on the calendar. Upcoming happenings include a field trip to the Shedd Aquarium and a playgroup meet-up at the River Trails Nature Center in Northbrook. The group will even be gathering to jump into icy Lake Michigan for the Polar Plunge charity event on March 2.

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Membership Has Its Rewards
In addition to being part of a wide network of dads, members receive a number of perks, including discounts at local kid-oriented attractions and shops. Current perks include a free trial music class at Little Wing, complimentary coffee at the Sod Room and a free 10×10 canvas with a session from Patricia Anderson Photography.

Uniting Dads Across Chicago
Membership is about half stay-at-home/work-from-home dads and half working dads, from all walks of life and all corners of Chicago. Membership grows by about 5-10 new members per week. “We all have a common interest in our kids,” explains Brian Dykes, the co-organizer and a dad to two girls. “We’re a simple group, and it’s just fun to get together with other guys who are experiencing the same thing.”

For more information on the Chicago Dads Group, or to join, visit meetup.com.

Are you a member of a parents’ group? Tell us about it in the Comments section below.

— Amy Bizzarri

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Photos: Courtesy of Chicago Dads Group