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People will use different measuring sticks in deciding when summer ends. The majority will use the technical definition marked by the autumnal equinox and say September 21. Others simply define summer as the period between the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays. For kids it’s pretty simple. Summer ends the second school begins, usually near the end of August. I link the end of summer to the Park District. Summer ends when the pool closes.

It’s then that the Park tends to slow down a bit. It marks the end of its showcase period. To be sure, the Park has programs year round, but because we don’t live in Florida, all the premier activities occur in the summer. While most people are taking their vacations, the Park District is working overtime to ensure everything runs like clockwork. Fireworks on the Fourth, Battle of the Bands, the No Gloves tournament, the upcoming Relay for Life are all squeezed into a relatively short period of time, and at least from the outside looking in, appear to go off without a hitch. And while all this is going on the park’s main attraction, the pool, continues 8 ” 10 hours a day, everyday.

The summer at the Park also provides a balance in a village where politics has become the number one topic, and the subsequent rumors and gossip a sport. In the past week we learned that the incompetent District 209 school board is up to its old trick of infighting, finger pointing, and tax dollar wasting, while test scores remain putrid.

We heard that the biggest news generated at Village Council meetings sometimes occurs after the meeting has been adjourned. To the surprise of nobody, we also learned that the Feds, looking for documents having to do with the water project, served the Village with a subpoena.

All these are serious issues in Forest Park, and are far from resolved. But on Saturday night at the park they were discussed with much less passion than normal, and with fewer expletives.

I was there, volunteering at one of the beer wagons during the No Gloves tourney. The heat was a little uncomfortable a first, but the benefits of a tourney T-shirt and a free meal easily make it worthwhile. Plus at the beer wagons you have to drink your mistakes. ” I’m sorry. You wanted a Lite and I poured a MGD. I’ll take care of it”.

Lingering for a while after my shift was over, the worries of the village, let alone the world, seem to be less important.

That will change of course, and the Park District has its own issues to deal with. It’s no secret that the spring election caused a disturbance in the force at the Board. To use a candidate’s slogan, “the old boy’s network” has been dented.

The Board’s meetings, like those of the Village, are now being videotaped. People are beginning to ask questions about how taxpayer money has been spent, and how it will be spent in the future. I would like to see the board come up with another idea aimed at kids along the lines of the Soap Box Derby.

Also, all things point to the current five board members having to make a decision about committing to the purchase and development of the Roos Building property, probably in conjunction with the village.

The increased scrutiny at the Park should be viewed as a good thing. The scrutiners and the scrutinees will find a balance and learn to live with each other. There will still be disagreements of course and I’m sure that various people will from time to time continue to be vilified. But the Park District, as opposed to the Village, appears to be a little more accepting of new ideas and new blood. Maybe this is why the Park runs with fewer hiccups than the village.

No matter how you define the end of summer, it’s rapidly approaching. Don’t procrastinate in making your park plans. The pool will close, the weather will cool, the leaves will fall, and we won’t have the park providing a panacea for us. We’ll have to face issues and challenges in the village without them. Yech.