Three members of the Arts Alliance were chatting at Kribi Coffee about the upcoming Scarecrow Project and ticking off the many ways in which Forest Park already connects programs and events to its 800,000 dead residents when Rick Wagner, perhaps referencing a statement made years ago by Bridgett Lane, declared, “Forest Park should own Halloween.”
In a later interview, Wagner ticked off many of the ways organizations in town already capitalize on its five cemeteries but added, “Forest Park does not have a unifying way of linking all the various organizations, i.e., village, library, chamber, historical society, arts and others to coordinate large events.”
Perhaps the best-known Halloween event in Forest Park is the Casket Races sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and scheduled this year for Saturday, Oct. 22 beginning at 11a.m. The morning event will be followed by Trick or Treat on Madison from 12:30 till 2:30 p.m.
Trophies, said Laurie Kokenes, chamber director, will be awarded to the first, second and third places winners but also to the most frightfully funny or creepiest casket. There’s also a trophy for the team that comes in “dead last.”
According to Kokenes, the first casket race was held in 2012 and that over time events like a masquerade ball, a Zombie Pub Crawl and Ghoulin’ in the Grove were added to make it a complete day but that all of the additions “fizzled.”
“It became evident,” said Kokenes, “that the Casket Races were the big hit along with trick or treat on Madison, so it makes sense to focus all our efforts there.”
Augie Aleksy, owner of Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore, has several books he will be featuring in October. Among them is a three volume series with the titles The History of Withcraft and Demonology, The Werewolf in Lore and Legend, and The Vampire in Lore and Legend. The books were published in the 1920s by Summers who was a Catholic priest.
Library staff member Alicia Hammond reported the library has two kits available during the month of October — for adults, mini pumpkin painting and for kids fall-themed Make & Take Kits. The library also has planned a full schedule of events throughout the month. (See sidebar)
The Forest Park Arts Alliance and the Historic Society of Forest Park is sponsoring Invasion of the Scarecrows for the second year in a row. The idea is to buy a kit from the alliance, decorate it creatively and stand it up in your front yard.
The Oak Park-River Forest Historical Society will have its annual “Tales of the Tombstones” on Oct. 16 at Forest Home Cemetery.
Kokenes said Wagner’s vision resonated with her but added, “Local organizations like the Historical Society and the Arts Alliance are already doing great things. But we all have limited resources. If there is a broad interest in beefing up Halloween activities, perhaps we could all put our heads together and discuss some options.”
One low investment idea the Chamber director suggested is a shared poster with all the organizations promoting their Halloween events together on one poster with a cute tag line like “Forest Park … the best place to celebrate Halloween.”
Invasion of the Scarecrows
An online memo from the Forest Park Arts Alliance and the Historical Society of Forest Park announced, “For the month of October, 200 scarecrows are invading Forest Park to raise money for the Historical Society of Forest Park and the Forest Park Art Alliance.”
The goal is to add 100 more scarecrows to the 100 displayed last year. To order a kit go to www.eventbrite.com/e/the-invasion-of-the-scarecrows-2022-tickets-3626031648 or go to the historical society website for the link.
Each kit includes instructions, a wooden frame, a head and plastic bag ready for stuffing and a yard sign.
The two head options include 1) paint your own face — $35 includes paint and a paintbrush or 2) a pre-painted face by artists for an extra $15
The concept is to decorate your scarecrow(s) and display them in front of your home or business throughout the month of October. Your previous scarecrow(s) can be on the map again for only $10 and you will also receive a sign to put with your scarecrow.
A list of all locations will be published prior to Oct. 1 and will provide an opportunity for the community to vote for their favorite scarecrows throughout the month. There will be prizes for winners in several categories.
Halloween at the library
Oct. 1 At the Grove a family friendly program of music by Mi Amigo Hamlet, storytelling, mini-golf and pumpkin decorating
Oct. 3 At the Library for middle graders “Create Your Own Horror Story”
Oct. 4 For adults Kitchen Series with Kristyn Slick: “Perfectly Pumpkin”
Oct.19 At Twisted Cookie for middle graders: Ghostbusters vs. Goosebumps
Oct. 27 For middle graders: Virtual Field Trip Haunted Places