If all goes according to plan, the Forest Park Historical Society will have a Monopoly game for sale in town by the start of the Christmas shopping season, but instead of properties with names like Board Walk, Park Place and Pennsylvania Avenue, the squares on the board will be named after local businesses, organizations, families or individuals.
As the society’s board was brainstorming ideas for a fundraiser last spring, Augie Aleksy, the board president, pitched the idea he had seen in other communities of a Monopoly game customized to Forest Park. The board liked the idea and Diane Hansen Grah, the society’s part-time executive director, went to work researching possible publishers.
A publisher named Pride Distributors out of Farmington Hills, Mich., was selected and the following timeline was set. Grah will be calling on businesses and organizations, asking them to purchase squares on the game board, ranging in price from $75 to $400 per square. Sponsorships are also available for $50. Although businesses won’t get a cut of the profits, Grah believes they will benefit from the increased foot traffic the game will provide in their stores.
If all goes well, 350 boxed and shrink-wrapped game sets will be available for sale at the Historical Society’s offices in St. Peter’s Church at the corner of Hannah and Adams, at Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore and at other locations throughout the village. If all the spaces on the board are sold, the Historical Society will take in $8,195 from those ad patrons and if all 350 games are sold, the revenues will total $8,750. Subtracting the $5,100 owed to the publisher would leave a remainder of $11,845 in profit for the organization.
Grah emphasized that fundraising is not the only goal of the project. “By making the game available,” she said, “we’re trying to bring back Dr. [Frank] Orland’s spirit. Dr. Orland [Historical Society founder and longtime president] was so enthusiastic and loved Forest Park. We want to share that pride with the community. We want to say what a rich and unique history Forest Park has with the amusement park, the Bloomer Girls, the torpedo factory and the cemeteries.”
“Dr. Orland’s spirit was always to engage the community,” Grah added. “We can help you do research in our archives or do research on your family genealogy. The reason I fell in love with local historical societies is that they have information about everyday people you don’t hear about in history books but who are fascinating. It’s the job of local historical societies to tell those stories.”
Grah holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in nonprofit management from North Park University in Chicago. Previously, she worked for the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest.
The game, which will be called Forest Parkopoly, is really a joint effort with the local Chamber of Commerce. The chamber provided Grah with its mailing list and has supported the project from the beginning. “Businesses have been very receptive,” Grah reported, “with many asking for information and a few already committed to purchasing places on the board.”
The Historical Society board thinks Forest Parkopoly will be a good way to reintroduce their organization to the community. “We’re saying to Forest Park: ‘We’re here, and we are active,'” said Grah.
If you would like to “immortalize” your business, church, organization or family by getting your name onto one of the squares, contact Diane Hansen Grah at 708-232-3747 or firstname.lastname@example.org.