I confess. I’m a traitor. I lived in Oak Park and moved to Forest Park. What’s the difference between Oak Park and Forest Park?
Oak Park thinks leisure time should serve a useful purpose; Forest Park thinks leisure time should be fun.
Think of the characters on the Simpsons. Oak Park is the community Lisa would design. Forest Park is the community where Homer would go to have a beer.
In the first weekends in June both communities sponsor festivals. In Oak Park’s Day in Our Village the booths are almost entirely religious, civic or other do-gooder organizations. One organization was demonstrating a solar oven for the developing world.
Oak Park feels that if citizens are going to gather it should enrich the minds of the citizenry. They should be exposed to information that is either useful or edifying.
Forest Park’s Summerfest has little to none of the proselytizing for causes, but more fun activities for children and more commercial booths. Other than food booths, I don’t recall any crafts or knickknacks being sold in Oak Park.
The difference exists in physical infrastructure too. Oak Park’s swimming pools are Olympic dimensions, including the ten-meter platform at Rehm Pool. Forest Park’s pool has slides. Oak Park built pools to train future Olympians, or at least community leaders. Forest Park built a pool so kids could have fun.
At the Forest Park festival cover bands performed classic rock. I like classic rock, but the performances seemed flat. It was too safe. Music that once threatened the establishment has now become a nostalgia trip for the establishment.
Oak Park had a band performing material I didn’t recognize. I assume the band wrote the songs being performed.
Both communities have rich histories. Forest Park accepted the bodies of the Hay Market martyrs when other communities were refusing to bury those radical labor agitators”you know the ones that pushed for the eight-hour work day and the weekend.
Oak Park has been out in front on numerous social and political issues. Oak Park banned alcohol, nuclear weapons and handguns. It was one of the early communities to create a domestic partnership registry. Oak Park seems almost enthusiastic about using government to push the morality of its activists.
Is one community better than the other?
The instincts cultivated from growing up in Oak Park make me want to agitate for change to make both communities better. Like a true Oak Parker, I’m pretty sure I know what’s best for everybody else, even if the rest of the community has yet to see the wisdom of my vision.
Oak Park should probably have more fun stuff at Day in Our Village. If the community is really daring, it might have fun stuff for adults.
Forest Park’s Summerfest should have more worthwhile causes participating. The Chamber of Commerce sponsors Summerfest. The front page of U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s website is pushing Bush’s highly partisan Social Security plan”you know, the one that diverts money from the current system to create a new system, but somehow this won’t cost anything or reduce anyone’s benefits.
If I were a suspicious individual I might think that the local Chamber of Commerce is dominated by Republicans and the reason community groups weren’t invited to Summerfest was that most community groups tend to align with the Democrats. But I’m not that suspicious. I’m sure it was an honest oversight that will be addressed next year. And I task both communities to get better music. A little diversity, por favor? Is it hard to find a band that can mix in other styles with Rock n Roll? Blues? Folk? Reggae? Irish music? Latin or Caribbean? Or at least mix the Rock n Roll with some alternative or pop?