Invasion of the Scarecrow
2022 was the second year for the Invasion of the Scarecrows fundraiser for the Forest Park Arts Alliance and the Historical Society of Forest Park. The 100 new scarecrow kits the two local organizations created almost sold out again, and many participants in last year’s event decided to re-use their kits from 2021. Forest Park residents who decided to be part of the “Invasion” and display scarecrows in front of their homes showed off their creativity, talents and pride in Forest Park. Some of the creations were funny, some were scary, some were very clever, and all were very unique. There were even two residents of Oak Park who participated this year.
Forest Park residents and non-residents alike were able to find the scarecrow locations on an online interactive map on the historical society’s website, and they were also able to vote for their favorites in four different categories online. The winners have been announced:
Most Artistic: Dia de los Muertos - 819 Circle – Chris Harder
Most Historic: Showmen’s Rest – 946 Thomas – Sandy Byrnes
People’s Choice: Grogu – 901 Circle – Lucas Hanson
Forest Park Pride: 70’s Disco – 301 Elgin – Burhan Syed
Honorable mentions go to 438 Hannah (Hans and Lulu by Jana Schroeder) and 537 Marengo (I got Boo, Baby by Ricky Poonsa, who each had over 40 votes total, but not quite enough in any category to win. Bragging rights go the 900 block of Lathrop who had 5 entries, more than any other block.
All four winners received gift baskets with merchandise and/or gift certificates from local businesses. The Historical Society of Forest Park and the Forest Park Arts Alliance are grateful for merchandise, services and gif card donations from the following local businesses and organizations: Brown Cow, Kribi Coffee, Lin Beribak, Twisted Cookie, Sweetcastle, Jimmy’s, Maison de Bonbon, Fiore’s, Lathrop House, Loui’s, O’Sullivan’s Public House, Starship Subs, Tood & Holland’s, Smokey Joel’s, Schauer’s, Loyola Center for Fitness and Ed’s Way. The Forest Park Art’s Alliance and the Historical Society of Forest Park also donated prizes. A special Thank You goes to the sponsors Ed’s Way and Jimmy’s for their extremely generous donations.
100 more scarecrow kits will be available for purchase again starting next July. The Arts Alliance of Forest Park and the Forest Park Historical Society hope that this year’s “invaders” will want to be involved again in 2023 again as well, and that 200 scarecrows will be invading Forest Park next fall.
Member Appreciation Party 2022
The Eagles Aerie 1344 was founded in 1906, just before Harlem became Forest Park, when the Harlem Racetrack was hanging on in business, and as automobile racing was dominating the horse track. Just moments older than the Forest Park Amusement Park, the Aerie has survived to this day.
Members of the Historical Society filled the Eagles Hall on Sunday, November 13th for a member appreciation party. Smokey Joel’s provided chili, Italian beef sandwiches, and his signature Chicago Style Hot Dogs. The Bingo machine, which takes center stage at the Hall, filled the room with anticipation as guests tried their luck. The Bingo cards were pure 1950s-era vintage, as was the lighted Bingo display high on the wall.
At the top of the agenda was honoring the Volunteer of the Year Amy Binns-Calvey and recognizing Orland Awardee Augie Aleksy. Amy helps the Society immensely by conducting popular tours of the Forest Home Cemetery. Augie was President of the Society and responsible for bringing us into the modern era. His support of the Des Plaines River Anthology was a highlight of his speech. After all the Bingo prizes were distributed to winners, the Gulyas Brothers played sixties tunes until closing time.
The members of the Historical Society are a distinctive group, worthy of great celebration. Every person in attendance has been an integral part of our Society, either as a volunteer, a supporter, or a lover of local history. Bringing everyone together was a tremendous pleasure, and we look forward to next year’s celebration.
Dr. Orland Award
Dr. Frank Orland, a respected dentist, teacher, and researcher, was also a visionary and a man who dearly loved his hometown Forest Park. “Everybody has a story,” he was fond of saying, and he made it his mission to record, research, and give a voice to the rich tapestry of our history. Dr. Orland was an early and important proponent of fluoridation and taught for many years at the University of Chicago.
He brought his skills as an educator and advocate to the task of creating a Historical Society from scratch. He and his wife Phyllis, a physician in town, recognized that Forest Park was special. Although neither were professional historians, they were drawn to Forest Park’s unique and thrilling heritage.
As the first President of the Historical Society, Dr. Orland put together a Board of Directors and organized tours of Forest Home Cemetery. He collected treasures and artifacts and displayed them in the Forest Park Public Library while moving the Historical Society forward despite a slim budget, a small membership, and no permanent home for an ever-growing collection. Dr. Orland died in 2000 and Rich Vitton, Orland’s successor as President, moved the Society’s collection to his own basement and graciously stewarded the collection for many years.
Citizens approached Mayor Calderone to ask for his assistance in transitioning the Historical Society’s collection out of one man’s basement and within reach of everybody. Mayor Calderone reached out to the community and brokered a way forward for a new Board of volunteers and the Historical Society of Forest Park was reborn.
Stepping up to create a more stable and professional organization, Augie Aleksy became President. Never again would the Historical Society lose sight of its mission to be an active part of the community. Augie, the owner of the acclaimed Forest Park bookstore Centuries and Sleuths, was an ideal choice to get the Society on its feet again. Under Augie’s leadership the Society sought to hire an Executive Director and find a permanent home. The Society was able to secure space in Saint Peter’s church until it was sold, and Augie helped the Society secure a home in the Village building on Adams and Des Plaines where it currently resides.
During this time, the Society came up with innovative ideas for fund-raising, like the Des Plaines River Anthology—both a book and a theatrical adaptation that was performed locally. Augie also shepherded the creation of the board game Forest Park-opoly.
Committed to keeping history in the public sphere, Augie helped acquire space for a modest museum at First United Church on Harvard and Elgin. Hoping to secure a permanent long-term home at First United, Augie helped broker a deal with the congregation. When structural flaws and challenges of co-habitation with an active congregation proved insurmountable, he worked to broker a mutual agreement to part ways.
After eight years Augie reached his term limit as a board member but his spirited assistance and support of the Society continues. For the past 5 years Augie has been our Madison Street face, our Garden Walk starting point, a receiving point for donations, our box office for ticket sales, our host at the annual Holiday Walk, and our exclusive retail merchant.
In the spirit of "everyone has a story," we are honored to grant Augie Aleksy the 2022 Frank Orland Award.
Scouts Tour of Forest Home Cemetery
Amy Binns-Calvey led the Forest Park Scouts through the Forest Home cemetery to learn about local history and earn a hiking badge.
October 18th, 2022
Jackson Alexander, 7, came along the Forest Park Historical Society Bike Tour of the Scarecrow Invasion in town. He has been collecting photos posing in front of every display and took advantage of the group ride to check off a few more. With over a dozen cyclists, Amy Binns Calvey, volunteer tour guide, led the group up and down the streets just south of 290 and then south of Roosevelt. Compelling cup heads, botanists, Alebrije inspired art, zombies and ravens popped up all over town and once again this talented town did not disappoint. Popular inspiration came from Day of the Dead, Pirates and A Nightmare Before Christmas and video games. With108 scarecrows at 76 locations, Forest Parkers have given the invasion a strong second year, even two Scarecrows that crossed Harlem to invade south Oak Park.
Garden Walk 2022
Featuring a broad range of green thumbs, the fifth annual Garden Walk bloomed with hundreds in attendance in a day with perfect weather.
Rose and John on Ferdinand showcased their cottage garden with native plants found from the front through the back attracting native hummingbirds, goldfinches and monarchs. Their warmhearted patio built by hand endures guests with a genuine feeling of comfort. Further to the north Rick and John invited guests to explore their sanctuary which features a wide variety of colors, shapes, sizes and textures of coleus geranium and impatiens. The impressive Coleus canvas throughout is a magical experience.
Circle Ave featured two different approaches to landscaping on either side of the Ike. Lauren and Brad, who's dogwood, sedum, lavender and dahlias were being watched by a family of young birds who had nested in the hanging ferns on the porch. Baza and Vito, the french bulldogs have plenty of room to roam in the thick green grass that is well maintained. While Megan's perennial style fits in with hydrangeas, peonies and vegetables. With a crushed gravel base for her patio, Megan also had chickens which provide much delight to the family which appreciates being connected to earth.
Positioned corner to corner on Lathrop were two homes recently purchased with homeowners who love gardening and developing their stride. Casey and Nick have used containers and ground to create depth and dimension in their yard and embrace the white duch micro clover that is creeping it's way across the backyard. Adriane, blends natural and wild in her new yard and is getting familiar with the plants in the yard that are here.
Michelle, who's home on Dunlop was recognized as Best in Show, has a yard filled with character, pockets of intrigue and is an experience to be a part of. During the tour there were several sightings of hummingbirds in honeysuckle that day. Pollinator paradise and memory garden in honor of Mark, several sculptures and elements were tucked around and within the garden and guests became lost in a peaceful utopia.
With over 30 volunteers, eight gardens and two lemonade stands the garden walk gathered hundreds of visitors and neighbors from Forest Park and beyond. The plans are in the works for 2023 garden walk, and we are collecting names and locations now for next year's showcase.
German Fest Photo Booth
May Day 2022
Mark Rogovin Award
Forest Home Cemetery's monument to the labor movement, was a buzz on the chilly May Day. Haymarket Martyrs Monument, sculpted by Albert Weinert and paid for by the Pioneer Aid and Support Association nearly 130 years ago, is still the centerpiece of international labor history,
The Historical Society of Forest Park honored the graves of the men and women associated with labor history including Albert Parsons, Lucy Parsons, Emma Goldman, Ben Reitman, and residents of Radical Row with information about their lives and contributions.
The Mark Rogovin Working Class Heroes award was given to Carol Gulyas, who lead the effort in creating highway markers on 290 and on the streets of Forest Park to guide visitors to come to the U.S. National Park Service Historic Landmark. With gratitude, she recognized the Illinois State employees who helped make the signage possible.
With over 200 total visitors throughout the day, including a crowd of 'Wobblies," from the Industrial Workers of the World, who were roused by Rich Leib's speech and chant, "Leave the work at work!"
After the crowd took to trivia and a refreshing atmosphere at McGaffer's Saloon. Several people took advantage of the virtual tour of the monument available on our website. Join us on the first Saturday of the month at 11:00 am for our in-person tour or watch the virtual tour any time on our website.
Outdoor Exhibit at the Haymarket Martyrs Monument
Trivia at McGaffer's Saloon with the IWW
Those wishing to pay their respects at the Haymarket Martyrs’ Monument will now get some help in finding it. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has installed “attraction signs” at Exit 21B (Harlem exit) on the 290 Expressway going to and from Chicago.
Sculpted by Albert Weinert and paid for by The Pioneer Aid and Support Association, the Haymarket Martyrs’ Monument was dedicated on June 25, 1893. Over a hundred years later, in 1997, the monument was designated a National Historic Landmark.
Both the Historical Society of Forest Park (HSFP) and the Illinois Labor History Society (ILHS) helped to make this happen. They were supported in their efforts by Forest Park Commissioner Jessica Voogd, Forest Park Public Works head Salvatore Stella, and Forest Park Mayor Rory Hoskins. The signs were designed by Rafael Nieves.
Every year, the HSFP and the ILHS collaborate in hosting the May Day (May 1) event at the Haymarket Martyrs’ Monument in the Forest Home Cemetery. On that same day, the HSFP features a tour of the Monument and of the resting places of the radicals of the era who chose to be buried next to the Monument. Visitors from all over the world come to pay their respects and celebrate the establishment of the eight-hour day for workers everywhere. May Day is regarded as Labor Day outside of the United States.
The Historical Society of Forest Park would like to express our deep gratitude to all who contributed to creating a successful Speakeasy event last Friday night at O'Sullivans. The event commemorated the passing the Volstead Act in 1920 which ushered in Prohibition. With local elegant ladies in 20's fashion and dapper gentlemen in bow ties, the live ragtime music by the Ragtime Roustabouts made for a swinging good time. A trip back into Forest Park's Prohibition days was presented by Jill Wagner to a rowdy crowd of delightful learners.
Thank you to the Gillian Baker Team, the vintage décor on loan from neighboring Studio 8, and two outstanding ice sculptures from Nadeau's Ice Sculptures. Many thanks to O'Sullivan's Public House and manager, Anthony Crawford who bartended and provided creative cocktails specifically designed for the event. Several raffle winners went home with prizes.
We are grateful to all our friends and neighbors who support the Forest Park Historical Society, and apologize for any inconveniences or disturbances created by the live music, which came to an abrupt end as guided by a visit from Forest Park's finest just at the close of the "When the Saints go Marching In."
Black History Month
Hung along the fences at the Park District of Forest Park these seven banners tell just a small piece of the story of Black History in Forest Park. Click on the banner to enlarge.