The WGN west suburban bureau: At a moment when Forest Park’s Madison Street can really use a PR boost, we have the WGN Weekend News to thank for setting up shop on our main street the past two weekends.

In extended live segments the effervescent morning news journalists have enthused about Accents by Fred, Brown Cow Ice Cream, Escape Factor and last weekend, Twisted Cookie.

Each of these is an independently owned local business which reflects the passion and personality of their owners, reflects the enormous diversity of shops and experiences a visitor might enjoy. These businesses are the backbone of the street and the sort of engaging presence Forest Park works to build off in growing the Forest Park brand.

In a summer where turmoil and trouble have garnered the headlines along Madison Street as rowdy crowds spilled into the street from select dysfunctional bars, these TV spots have been a balm.

Garage Galleries returns: It is an art show that reflects Forest Park’s genuine and grassroots appreciation for the arts. After a COVID summer hiatus in 2020, this annual event is back even in the face of a COVID upturn. 

The concept is genius, simple genius. Across Forest Park, 23 active citizens — some artists, some fans of artists — open up their garages, presumably sweep up a bit, and host two artists each. This year there are 52 artists representing a wide range of talents and mediums, and a range of pricing that starts low, displaying their work on Saturday, Aug. 28.

In a COVID surge, there is the expectation of masking and the reality of wide open doors and breezes.

This is a partnership between the three locals who mount Garage Galleries and the increasingly interesting Forest Park Arts Alliance.

Good things happening on the art front.

Maybe next March: The Forest Park Chamber of Commerce made the wise, if hard, choice to cancel its Halfway to St. Patrick’s Parade which had been scheduled for September. Of course this was the second cancellation after the original St. Pat’s event was cancelled in March.

Now the Chamber has set next March for the return of what is Forest Park and the Chamber’s biggest event of the year. We can be hopeful.

Meanwhile the reality in this moment is an event that draws crowds lined up along both sides of Madison with no distancing, a drinking event that makes masking unlikely, in a month with likely better weather than the brisk misery most March parade days provide.

 Not a healthy combination. Good decision by the Chamber.