Good news can seem scarce, but the return of the July 4th fireworks show at The Park certainly qualifies. Even better news is that it came off without any of the incidents that caused an unwelcome four-year hiatus from what had always been a point of village pride in Forest Park.
Kudos to Larry Piekarz and the Park District of Forest Park (including park board members who pushed for the show's return) for taking the calculated risk that enough time had passed to give fireworks another shot (so to speak). The police and fire departments also did their part to keep the event safe and orderly.
The crowd was smaller and less unruly than in the past, the result of an intentional decision to play down promotion and hope that the word would spread quietly.
Word, of course, will get out that Forest Park's fireworks are back, and we're glad that village officials are encouraged enough to make it an annual event again. The crowds, predictably, will grow as word gets out, but we hope the village will stay firm in their commitment. With adequate precautions, we believe the show should go on.
It's easy to be ruled by fear, but Forest Park has set a good example by refusing to do so. With the return of fireworks comes a return of village pride, literally bursting overhead. But we can also take pride in our own small way for resisting being controlled by fear.
More good news: Entrepreneurs and homeowners are investing in Forest Park. There is probably no better evidence of optimism. The future looks bright enough to risk hard-earned capital. Marty Sorice certainly thinks so, after sinking upwards of $1 million in a significant upgrade of Blueberry Hill over the past three decades, plus his purchase of numerous other bars in Forest Park. House "flippers" certainly think so. Upgrading housing stock is a nice by-product of this real estate "cottage industry," and they wouldn't be doing it if the housing market hadn't improved to the point where they can turn a profit doing so.
And where the housing market hasn't improved enough, a lot of longtime homeowners are investing in their properties with the expectation that eventually it will pay off when they finally sell.
We like being described by one online real estate resource (Trulia Blog) as having "a slick city feel without big-city cost." Forest Park, as we now know, has been a popular draw for empty-nesters from Oak Park among other communities and more and more, we trust, for young families willing to take a chance on an improving school system (Proviso high schools in particular).
The permitting process and code enforcement have been streamlined under the direction of Steve Glinke, who heads the Department of Public Health and Safety. That's a welcome development as long as it doesn't dilute the department's oversight responsibilities.
Overall, we agree with Marty Sorice's assessment that "Forest Park is definitely on the rise."