Forest Park is fortunate to be ground zero for celebrating the labor movement and observing May Day. That’s because Forest Home Cemetery contains the graves of such luminaries as Albert Parsons, Emma Goldman and Ben Reitman. These residents of Radical Row and the Haymarket Martyrs Monument (HMM) form the centerpiece of the Forest Park Historical Society’s May Day celebration this Sunday, April 29 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Howard Mohr Community Center. 

The festivities will feature Revolution and Kinslagher craft beers, a buffet of German food, as well as vegan offerings. The two guest speakers will be local historian Ken Knack and Peter Cole, an authority on the Industrial Workers of the World, aka “Wobblies.” The celebration also includes the musical stylings of Al Scorch and Jon Langford, artists for Chicago-based Bloodshot Records. 

In addition, there will entertainment at the cemetery. A Fenwick High School bus will shuttle guests from the Community Center to the HMM. There will be a tent where speakers from the Historical Society will regale guests with the history of the labor movement’s most sacred ground. The society is also sponsoring tours on April 28 and 29 and on May Day itself, starting at 11 a.m.

The purpose of all these activities is to raise funds for, and increase membership in, the Historical Society. Last year, they held the event at McGaffer’s and filled the venue. So they decided to move it to the Community Center to accommodate more guests. Admission for the April 29 event is $15, but guests can get a $3 discount by becoming members of the society. 

The event is intended for people of all ages to learn about the origins of May Day and also why Forest Park is the place to be for honoring the men and women who brought us the eight-hour workday and weekends off.

John Rice

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.