Growing up in Forest Park, Rachell Entler’s life revolved around the Park. She was there year-round, playing sports, swimming and skating. Now that she’s in her third year as Recreation Supervisor, Rachell is as Park-centric as ever. She has come up with many fresh ideas for fun.
For example, she introduced kite-flying at the Park last April. Kids constructed kites from kits and colored them. For two hours, they flew kites over the softball fields. I’ve personally never gotten a kite aloft. Mine have always crashed during takeoff. The Park provided a “kite hospital” for infrequent fliers like me. (Now, I’ve got that song, “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” stuck in my head. I’ve got to see Mary Poppins when it’s screened at the Park Aug. 22).
Rachell has also come up with more down-to-earth activities for kids, like the MLB Pitch, Hit & Run Competition and a scavenger hunt known as the Stride and Seek Challenge. Most popular of all has been the Kids Triathlon. The 3rd Annual will take place at the Park on Sept. 6.
Just the word “triathlon” makes me tired. My favorite Park activity last year was watching a Bears game on a big screen with friends and neighbors. This year, the Park will be showing Bears vs. 49ers on Sept. 14. I’ve already trained for it by standing around at the No Gloves tournament drinking beer.
Speaking of which, I also enjoyed the July 3 festivities this year. It stinks that we had to cancel our fireworks due to the rowdiness of non-residents but listening to a Forest Park band like The Redmond’s took some of the sting out of it. I can only hope that our in-your-face fireworks show will be restored some day. I believe one of our Park Commissioners campaigned on that platform.
Rachell met her own commissioner-to-be, Eric Entler, at the Park. They are married with two children, Jaxson and Maddy, whom Rachell refers to as her “assistant rec. directors.” She not only gets ideas from her kids but pointers from parents at soccer and Little League games. Rachell doesn’t need to conduct surveys; she just has to circulate at the Park.
Our son, Mark, is working at the Park in his second summer as a Day Camp Counselor. Rachel reported that “registration has skyrocketed” for the Park youth camps. I think this is due in part to exciting new innovations. Kids have been going on field trips to the Lincoln Park Zoo, Second City and Santa’s Village. They’ve also enjoyed an Amazing Race competition, water balloons and face painting. “Parents appreciate it when they come to pick up their kids and they’re wiped out,” said Rachell.
The Park may be more vibrant than ever but there’s still a lingering problem of activities being called off due to lack of interest. “We still struggle with canceling programs,” Rachell admitted. “But parents are spreading the word and our programs have been more resident-driven.”
OK, I’m a resident with a great idea. Why don’t we revive the Sand Castle Competition at the Aquatic Center which was held several years ago? I know I’m out of practice but I think I can still take First Place at the 2nd Grade level.
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.