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Conservatory Reopens 2 Rooms After Last Summer’s Hailstorm

Hail caused signifcant damage to the historic Garfield Park Conservatory. Here, glass panes are shattered in the greenhouse. (Credit: Garfield Park Conservatory)

Hail caused signifcant damage to the historic Garfield Park Conservatory. Here, glass panes are shattered in the greenhouse. (Credit: Garfield Park Conservatory)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Looking for better luck at the Garfield Park Conservatory in 2012, the Chicago Park District called in the big guns on this, the weekend before the Chinese New Year.

WBBM Newsradio’s Michele Fiore reports dozens of wide-eyed children watched Sunday as an orange, yellow and blue dragon made its way down the winding paths of the conservatory.

The dragon was helping Garfield Park reopen two rooms – the Desert House and the Aroid House – that had been shut down since last summer’s hailstorm damaged 60 percent of the conservatory’s glass roof.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Michele Fiore reports

“We just thought that this was a great occasion to bring the dragon here. The dragon is a symbol of good fortune and we figured we could use some,” director of conservatories Mary Eysenbach said. “We had a little bit of bad luck. Maybe we should have gotten the dragon last year to come through.”

The Garfield Park Conservatory sustained severe damage in a hailstorm on June 30, 2011. Approximately 23,000 glass panes at the conservatory were destroyed, including the roofs of the Fern Room, Desert House, Show House, and 10 propagation greenhouses were shattered.

The Fern Room reopened in December after workers repaired and cleaned hundreds of shattered glass panes.

At the Show House, 12 inches of soil had to be removed after the glass roof was shattered and everything must be replanted once a permanent roof is installed.

“We were able to get temporary roofs on the Fern Room and the Show House and half our propagation houses and so we are protected for the winter, obviously, but we still have a huge undertaking in front of us to put glass back in the Show House and the Fern Room,” Eysenbach said.

The Palm Room and Horticulture Hall were largely spared during the storm because they had been updated not long before with laminated glass that was not broken by the hailstorm.