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About 70 people crowded the Roos Recreation Center on May 1 for Mayor Anthony Calderone’s farewell celebration, honoring his 20 years holding the top office in Forest Park. Calderone will be succeeded by Rory Hoskins, who will take office on May 13. Attendees, who ranged from local political figures to residents, munched sandwiches as they listened to speeches and resolutions, as well as reflections on the lives Calderone touched. 

Rich Pellegrino, executive director of the West Central Municipal Conference, commended Calderone’s humble nature — “He’s the last person to tell you about his success,” he said in a speech — and his commitment to Forest Park. 

“On behalf of the 51 municipalities and governmental entities I represent I want to thank Tony Calderone for 20 years of public service and dedication to Forest Park,” Pellegrino told attendees. “Leadership is action.”  

Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins gave Calderone credit for always treating her with respect, regardless of where she was or who she was with. 

“It wasn’t always what it was today,” she said. “Forest Park has the same problems across Proviso; it is one of 15 villages with a little money and lot of problems. He’s made it a thriving, successful town.”

Resident Roger Wilson remembered first meeting Calderone during the grand opening of Fantastic Sam’s hair salon and immediately thought he was “just really pleasant, a little chatty, not overpowering kind of guy.” He named Calderone’s movement to get signs hung on Madison Street businesses — rather than over the street — as his greatest accomplishment. 

“He’s a great guy who saw that he could do something by being in public office,” he said.  

Among honorariums bestowed, officials from the Forest Park police and fire departments gave Calderone a shadow box filled with honorary badges, representatives from the Park District of Forest Park and Forest Park Public Library read resolutions in recognition of Calderone, and District 91 students presented Calderone with a banner, signed by the more than 700 students in the district, which read, “Mayor Anthony T. Calderone, The Kindest Mayor in America.” 

“Tony was one of the first people I met when I came to Forest Park,” D91 Superintendent Louis Cavallo told the crowd. “We sat down and I walked away knowing he was passionate for the village and cared deeply about the schools and cared deeply about the kids.” 

He praised Calderone’s willingness to come in and read to students, as well as his support of D91’s “Kindness Week,” when students distributed homemade “kind” stickers to residents, and the village passed a resolution recognizing the initiative. Cavallo said he remembered once walking through the schools and a student asking him, “Are you the Mayor?” 

“That tells me one thing; it’s as common for the superintendent to walk through the schools as the mayor,” he said. 

CONTACT: ntepper@wjinc.com