The Forest Park Chamber of Commerce put Summer Fest on a "sabbatical" for a year while determining how to make the fest more family-friendly.File 2010

Forest Park’s Summer Fest has been canceled for 2013, the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce said Friday.

A press release said the Chamber would take a year off to “work on retooling the event to create a more family-friendly experience that includes increased exposure for our merchants.”

For two years, the free evening festival has been troubled by groups of unruly teenagers, who have disturbed the crowds, according to police. The first day of the festival in 2012, groups of teenage boys with backpacks ran through the crowds in a dangerous way, causing the Forest Park police to summon help from neighboring police departments. Six teens were given local ordinance tickets by Forest Park police.

In 2011, police tasered an Oak Park teenager on the night of June 4 after what was described as a “scuffle” in the 400 block of Ferdinand, involving a crowd of up to 100 persons. The boy was allegedly shouting obscenities. He and an 18-year-old were charged with mob action.

“We are always looking at ways to tweak events as well as ideas for something new,” said Chamber Executive Director Laurie Kokenes.

Statement from the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce

The Board of Directors of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce and Development announced today that the annual Summer Fest event would take a one-year sabbatical this year.

“It’s time Summer Fest had a ‘face lift,” said Executive Director Laurie Kokenes. “As the Chamber and the business community continues to grow, it just makes sense to take a fresh look at things.”

After a successful 20-plus year run, the Summer Fest committee will work on retooling the event to create a more family-friendly experience that includes increased exposure for our merchants.

“We are always looking at ways to tweak events as well as ideas for something new,” said Kokenes. “Our mission in everything we do is to promote our members and Forest Park as a whole in the most effective way possible.”

Forest Park Chamber’s activities include the St. Patrick’s Day parade, Annual Meeting, Wm. R. McKenzie Memorial Golf Outing and the Holiday Walk. The Chamber also co-sponsors the All School Picnic and holiday decorations on Madison Street. Wine Walk and Shop, Casket Races and quarterly sidewalk sales are recent additions to the roster of Chamber events.

The Forest Park Chamber of Commerce and Development is dedicated to supporting our business and residential community by serving as a leader in economic development and an advocate for business. We strive to maintain a positive partnership with village government, promote our merchants and community while encouraging local business alliances and serving as a resource to our members.

Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...

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