February used to be a sleepy month in Forest Park. This year, though, February is heating up with a flurry of events hosted by local organizations. The Kiwanis Club of Forest Park is adding to our February frenzy with a pig roast on Saturday, Feb. 20 at Chalk, 7414 Madison St., from 4 to 7 p.m. 

It’s not just an event to raise money for local youth organizations, it marks the kickoff of the new Forest Park Kiwanis Club Foundation.

Director Julie Thompson explained that the new foundation is a 501(c)3, which will make donations to Kiwanis tax-deductible. 

“The purpose is to collect donations from the community to help establish a Forest Park scholarship fund, support youth sports and stock the food pantry,” Thompson said. “The foundation also allows us to apply for grants.” 

Why are they doing the pig roast? 

“We thought it would be something fun do to do in February,” Thompson said, “It will be three hours of eating and drinking. And I don’t know of any other pig roasts being held in Forest Park. 

“I guess we could call it ‘Halfway to Ribfest,'” he said, referring to Forest Park’s summertime celebration of pork.

Besides an entire roasted pig, there will be vegetables and other dishes to complete the meal. There will also be kegs of craft beer on hand. Chalk has plenty of space on the first floor and a party room upstairs. Starting at 8 p.m., there will be live bands for those who want to stay on.

“Kiwanis is almost 100 years old,” Thompson said, “We’re trying to get our name out there and trying to recruit new members.” 

Speaking personally, she said, “Forest Park has given a lot to my family and I want to give back.”

Kiwanis President Steve Knysch echoed Thompson’s sentiments. 

“The foundation is a long time coming but it changes the game for us,” Knysch said. “Only businesses were getting tax breaks before. Now individuals can get tax breaks. We’re lucky to have an attorney, Ron Haddad and Julie as our accountant. Without Ron and Julie, we couldn’t have formed our own foundation. We can receive endowments and inheritances. We hope to sustain Kiwanis with investment interest.”

Tickets for the pig roast will, of course, be tax-deductible. Knysch disagrees with those who think the tickets are pricey — $48 in advance, $60 at the door. 

“If you’re going out for a night on the town, you’re getting, as Julie said, three hours of eating and drinking,” Knysch said. “Plus, you’re supporting a good cause. You’ll enjoy camaraderie with good people.”

Kiwanian Jerry Lordan pointed out, “The Kiwanis Club of Forest Park was founded in 1923, with the Mohr family as charter members. We meet in the snug at Brian Boru’s on the second and fourth Tuesdays, at 6:45 p.m., for anyone who wants to join. The new foundation will provide sustained support for youth athletics, juvenile literacy, adolescent leadership training, scouting and the food pantry.” 

Oh, just in case residents need another reason to go to the pig roast, it will give them a chance to celebrate George Washington’s Birthday.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.