Forest Park is a wonderful town and Thanksgiving brings the opportunity to stop for a moment and be conscious of the blessings of this community.
Here’s our list – heartfelt and, inevitably, incomplete.
A sense of community: It is not easy to be the town at the end of two train lines, with a majority of housing in multi-family, and still to nurture a feeling of belonging. Forest Park accomplishes this with its long, shared history, its vibrant, walkable downtown, its cohesive elementary schools, its many and varied community events.
Sure we fight and bicker some. But when that stops what’ll we do for fun?
Affordable value: Everything is more affordable at the bottom of a real estate collapse, but Forest Park retains its unusual appeal as an entry point for homebuyers looking for that urban-suburban balance. And with the range of housing stock available, Forest Park also offers move-up options that make Forest Park a lifelong destination.
Getting around: The walkable neighborhoods of Forest Park appeal whether you are looking for a place where kids can walk to the pool, where parents can hop the el(s) to the Loop or where those inclined can crawl the pubs.
Respect our elders: Maybe it is the multi-generational culture of the village, but Forest Park is particularly attuned to meeting the needs of seniors. The Howard Mohr Community Center is a hub of activity for elders whether they need a flu shot or a game of Pinochle, a handyman or a ride to the doc. It starts with respect, it is built on connection and it is a telling trait of this community.
Let’s eat: Who’d have thought 15 years back that Forest Park’s Madison Street would grow into a true dining destination in Chicago? But it has and the growth in variety and quality continues. Tapas or train-delivered, Italian or Thai, Sushi, Cajun, barbeque, Mexican or just plain hometown Louie’s, Forest Park is foodie heaven. And how about Fiorenza offering up Thanksgiving dinner for those without family!
The Park and The Pool: Forest Park has always been a hard-working town that knows how to play. The hub of that impulse is at the park/pool/ fields/skate park/meeting rooms/etc. on Harrison Street. This is a treasure that defines Forest Park. We’ll offer more thanks if one year from now there is notable progress on The Roos project.
Democracy works: At the local level Forest Park has vigorously contested elections. That’s all good. And in the presidential race just past 76 percent of Forest Parkers went to the polls. That is a spectacular, energizing turnout.
Energized organizations and institutions: Forest Park institutions bring energy to the common community good. Public works at the village shines. Our local public elementary schools are strong and vital. Our community events are stellar. There is a strong and diverse community of faith. The Chamber of Commerce (happy 100th) is both a practical business builder and a business community builder. The Historical Society is resurgent and despite challenges in finding a permanent home, the energy is palpable. The Food Pantry is feeding 140 families in town this week. Those families are grateful and we are grateful, too. We all take for granted the tremendous asset of having a locally-owned, community-minded bank in Forest Park National.
So this Thanksgiving we offer our thanks to the leaders of Forest Park, to the loyal critics, to the ordinary folks who build this town by watching out for their neighbors. Happy Thanksgiving.