Painted elephants will begin appearing on the sidewalks of Forest Park in the coming weeks as part of the village’s celebration of its 100th birthday.

The Centennial Committee, an ad hoc group responsible for the festivities is planning a three day event for Labor Day weekend in 2007, and is selling statues of baby elephants to help generate funding. Businesses and other sponsors in Forest Park purchase the statues for $550, decorate them as they wish and then mount the figures onto a concrete slab that will rest in front of their shop. Sally Cody, the mayor’s administrative assistant and committee member, said pedestrians can look for at least 16 of the painted elephants to begin popping up this month.

All of the village’s public schools have bought an elephant to decorate, as well as handfuls of businesses along Madison Street and elsewhere.

The elephant was chosen to commemorate the 1922 train wreck involving a circus troupe, for which there is also a monument in Woodlawn Cemetery.

Of course, planning continues for the 2007 celebration of the founding of Forest Park, and committee members are hoping to line up a musical headliner. According to Cody, talks are underway to secure a performance by either the Smithereens or The Grass Roots. The Smithereens rock band was formed in 1980 and most recently released a Beatles tribute album. The group is known for such hits as “Blood and Roses,” “Much Too Much” and “A Girl Like You.” The Grass Roots were a huge commercial success in the 1960s and ’70s and maintained a presence on the Billboard charts for 307 straight weeks. Their hits include “Midnight Confessions,” “Two Divided by Love” and “Heaven Knows.”

Other anticipated centennial celebrations include a competition to create a cocktail named for Forest Park, burying a time capsule and a parade.