As we move into fall, Forest Park is rich with events that are spooky, fun and help-filled. We’re thinking about the Historical Society’s scarecrows, the Chamber of Commerce Casket Races, and Trick-or-Treat on Madison. 

But today here are three more positives to note:

A pumpkin smash

Typically we forget about our jack-o-lanterns which move from the porch to the mantle, until the day we realize it has morphed into mush and is now a hideous clean-up job. 

Forest Park’s Recreation Board is inventing/borrowing an idea both big fun and environmentally friendly. The first pumpkin smash will take place Nov. 4 on the north end of the Altenheim property. Bring your pre-mush pumpkins over, roll them down a chute and watch them be safely smashed into bits. Who doesn’t like smashing orbs into bits? Especially when it all turns into nutrient-rich compost.

There will also be food and camaraderie.

Kiwanis, a hundred years of help

A sure sign of the changing season is the return of Kiwanis Peanut Day. It took place last weekend and you likely saw an orange-vested volunteer as you made your way around town. You may have also noticed that as a bow to nut allergy worries, this year the volunteers offered a peanut alternative in the form of Trollis, a sweet and sour candy. The candy was donated by the always generous Ferrara Candy.

Forest Park’s Kiwanis Club, remarkably, is celebrating its centennial this year. What a milestone of good works and community service. Support of local kids has long been a focus of Kiwanis and the money raised last weekend will go to support youth sports, school program scholarships and camps. Early indications are that more than $2,000 was raised.

Clean-up and a clothing swap

This Saturday will bring a two-fer of good works and goodwill to Forest Park. Assuming a cloudless sky, or at least no downpour, the annual community clean-up launches at 9 a.m. What a remarkable event. 

Volunteers gather to pick up their tools and garbage bags and then spread out to the south and north sides of town to spruce up the village—a last pickup of trash from the public ways before the leaves fly and then the snow arrives. 

This event reflects a pride of place that is inspiring and says a lot about the way residents feel about their hometown. Volunteers need to register in advance and can do so using the link on the homepage of the village’s website.

And then, come afternoon, a brand new event in town: a clothing swap. The brainstorm of Ryan O’Connor, a Forest Parker, was to create a swap that works for the environment, as clothes are recycled, but which is also intentionally inclusive with an idea of being welcoming to young people, especially trans, non-binary and gender nonconforming. Having easy and positive access to clothes which affirm their gender is important to people, as is an easy welcome.

O’Connor identifies as non-binary. They took this concept to village officials who have been nothing but positive in helping them pull it together.

Going to be a good Saturday in Forest Park.