Christmas has come again to Forest Park, and during this winter holiday respite we’re taking a moment to count the blessings that are many and multiple in this village.
Forest Park is an old town with rich traditions and a web of family ties and family ways. The town has grown and changed in recent decades, and even been “discovered” by city sorts, wowed by the location, the transportation, the wide assortment of housing stock and, yes, perhaps, by the wide assortment of watering holes. And while the hold of the founding immigrants – Italian and German, mainly – has lessened, the sense of community formed in that founding has somehow been translated to today’s more diverse clusters of residents.
It makes for a curious and welcoming village, even allowing for occasional lapses.
We treasure the history of Forest Park, from the cemeteries to the torpedo factory, from the church steeples to the familiar “streetwall” along Madison Street. We salute the entrepreneurialism in evidence all along the street, especially coming through hard times.
A roof will rise again this week over a valued Madison Street business, Skrine Chops, laid low by a devastating fire. The restaurant’s owners are making their comeback in a town that roots for comebacks, which supports its own.
By spring, we hope and expect to see a new business in the long-dark space occupied for decades by Trage Bros. To see Grand Appliance prepare to invest on Madison Street, to bring back a store selling appliances and electronics, to appreciate the village’s creative approach in providing financial incentives, is a sign of renewed strength on the street.
Ours is a village of churches that will be lit into the late evenings this week as people gather to celebrate their shared and varied faith traditions – each one looking back for strength and forward in hope.
We take pride in the ambitions of our District 91 elementary school district – its board, administrators, teachers and students – who are on a determined path to achieve excellence for each student in this town. We are supportive of our park district as its aims high, but moves with proper caution, on the great leap of the Roos acquisition. And we urge this body to always look outside for the expertise and counsel necessary for a task this complex.
We applaud our village government for specific initiatives – Grand Appliances, Army Reserve planning, housing collaborations with neighboring towns – but we urge leaders to govern with an optimism and inclusiveness worthy of this village in this season.
We watch with satisfaction, but not surprise, as Forest Parkers rallied to fill the food pantry’s shelves when the alarm was rung. The need is real and it doesn’t end when the last holiday celebration is complete.
Forest Park is a village of tradition and connections. There is satisfaction in the generations who make this their home. There is pride in being a beacon for newcomers who choose to make this home. Forest Park has taken the opportunity to blend tradition and change into a strong sense of community, which we celebrate and honor in this busy and joyous moment of the year.