The Park District of Forest Park will attempt some new security measures to keep a lid on crowd control for its free “Fall Fest” happening all day Saturday, Sept. 7.

“We took some of the money left over from [cancelling] the fireworks, and we’ll be offering this free festival for the first time,” said parks director Larry Piekarz. Piekarz told the park board he met with Police Chief Jim Ryan and Fire Chief Steve Glinke to get suggestions about how to keep an orderly crowd after Forest Park cancelled both the Independence Day fireworks display in July and SummerFest in June.

Keeping control of a single entrance and exit point was a strategy suggested to the park district. Piekarz told the board orange plastic “snow fencing” would ring the perimeter of the park, with only one entrance and exit to the event.

A park bus will patrol the perimeter if older or disabled people require help getting to the entrance from their parking spots, Piekarz said.

Piekarz told the board Fall Fest was an experiment to see whether controlling the entrance and exit points of a public event could act as a crowd-calming device. He floated the idea of charging a suggested $3 donation for admission to the event, but the board was not enthused about this idea.

Fall Fest Events

The day’s events Sept. 7 will begin with the park’s second-annual Kids’ Triathlon from 8 a.m.-noon. Although the pool will be closed to the public, children participating in the triathlon will get the last splash of the year.


“We had some great athletes competing last year, and lots of kids who just wanted to try [a triathlon],” Piekarz said.


At 12:30, Kidbucks Game Show, a live performance, will be held at the park stage. Carnival games, a bags tournament and food will be available.


Music takes place in the afternoon through the evening with country artists Jin & Tonic, followed by a rock act and finishing with Soda from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m.


Hot dogs, hamburgers and brats will be sold. Wine and 20 different craft beers will be on hand to try, Piekarz said, with beer samplers available.


“We are excited about Fall Fest and think there will something for everyone.”

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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