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Lifeguards Gather To Remember North Avenue Beach ‘Bird Lady’

North Avenue beach at sunrise. (Credit: Natalie Cheng/CBS Chicago)

North Avenue beach at sunrise. (Credit: Natalie Cheng/CBS Chicago)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Several generations of Chicago lifeguards gathered along the lakefront yesterday to remember “the Bird Lady of North Avenue Beach.”

WBBM’s Regine Schlesinger reports, Joe Pecoraro started as a lifeguard in 1949, and he remembers Eleanor Arens fondly.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

“Anybody who worked at North Avenue as a lifeguard would remember her,” Pecoraro said.

Pecoraro said Arens used to feed the birds on the beach with her mother, but it didn’t stop with just the birds.

“Although she’d been famous because she fed the birds, the biggest thing she did was feed the lifeguards,” he said.

“She always brought something for the guards. She always brought something to drink, or even up until recent years she’d bring donuts and things like that.”

She stopped about two years ago when her health began failing.

Arens died earlier this month at the age of 85, remembered for her generosity to the guards and to the birds — even though her bird feeding habits often got her in trouble with the law.