Chicago had its cows, Oak Park has its pigs, and next year Forest Park will have elephants on parade. The elephants will be just one part of Forest Park’s 100th birthday party the Forest Park Centennial Committee told the village council Monday night.

In 1907, the town of Harlem decided to change its name to Forest Park and next year the town will celebrate with a year-long series of events, centennial committee co-chair Maurice Sivek told the council Monday night.

The molded elephants will be mounted on 200-pound concrete slabs and put up all over town said Bud Boy, chairman of the park board, who is in charge of the elephant display. The slogan behind the celebration will be, “Remember Forest Park,” hence the elephants, who are reputed to have long memories.

But the months-long celebration will include much more than elephants.

“The celebration will be multifaceted,” said Sivek. “We are not looking to throw a single event, but several events.”

The festivities will culminate over Labor Day 2007 when there will be a three-day-long birthday party. On Friday and Saturday nights, the committee is hoping to book national acts. Sunday will be family day with the committee planning an ecumenical religious service, a pancake breakfast and then at night a “tremendous fireworks display,” according to Sivek.

All weekend there will be carnival rides, scavenger hunts, and other activities. The committee has not yet settled on a site but is considering the north side of the CTA terminal, which is near the site of the old amusement park; the Forest Park Mall; or Madison Street between Jackson and Desplaines.

Sivek said the committee plans to involve school children who will bury a time capsule to be opened 50 or 100 years later. The All School picnic in May will kick off the series of celebrations.

The centennial committee hopes to be self-supporting and is putting together a classy ad book to raise money. Sandy Boy is spearheading that effort. She plans on soliciting every business in Forest Park to purchase an ad.

“This book will pay for itself,” said Sandy Boy. “Our goal is to make $20,000.” The graphics and printing will be donated. Boy has already begun selling ads, whose cost will range from $25 to $3,000. Just this week Boy sold a $3,000 full-page, inside-front-cover headline space to Forest Park National Bank for $3,000. Regular full-page ads will be $1,000, while $500 buys a half page, $250 a quarter page, and $100 will buy a business card-size space. Information from the Forest Park Historical Society will be included in the book, which is intended to be a keepsake.

“This is not just an ad book,” said Sandy Boy. “We want it to be saved. The business people cannot afford not to be in this book.”

  • In other action Monday night, the village council decided to put off a detailed discussion of the early retirement incentive program discussed two weeks ago in order to obtain additional staff input. But Mayor Anthony Calderone proposed instituting an interim hiring freeze if the village does put the retirement incentive plan into effect so that the village can be assured on saving money when employees take early retirement.
  • The council also put off voting on the Zoning Board of Appeals recommendation to rezone the east side of the 400 and 500 blocks of Elgin Avenue from the current R-3 (High Density Residential District) to R-2 (Medium Density Residential District). The council intends to have a first reading of the proposed ordinance at its next meeting, Sept. 11, and vote on the proposed change at the meeting after that, Sept. 25. A preliminary survey of the council indicated support for changing the zoning from R-3 to R-2.
  • The council unanimously voted to direct the village attorney to approve a zoning text amendment to provide for group day care homes as a permitted conditional use in an R-1 Low Density Residential District. Daniel J. Perriero had petitioned the village for the text amendment and intends to purchase property to conduct a day care business out of a home and plans on hiring up to two people to help him in the business.
  • The council also unanimously approved a change in the language of the library referendum, which will be on the ballot this fall. The corrected language will ask voters whether they wish to raise their property taxes by .150 percent to an amount equal to 0.346 percent of equalized assessed value of the taxable property.
  • The council unanimously approved the appointment of Rory Hoskins to serve on the Traffic and Safety Commission.

Volunteers needed for FP’s centennial celebration

Next year will be Forest Park’s 100th birthday. In 1907 the village of Harlem changed its name to Forest Park. The Forest Park Centennial Committee needs your help in planning next year’s celebration, and is looking for volunteers. The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 20 at 6:30 p.m. in the lower level of village hall.

For more information or to volunteer, contact Deputy Clerk Sally Cody at village hall, 366-2323 ext. 159. Cody is serving as co-chair of the Centennial Committee with Maurice Sivek.

Bob Skolnik