Spread the news: RF's 125th Gala is June 17

? And get those RSVP cards in. Responses started slow but have picked up since the deadline passed.

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By BILL DWYER

As anyone who's ever thrown a big party knows, getting people to call back with their RSVPs for an affair can be like pulling teeth. If the folks putting together one of River Forest's biggest parties this year?#34;the 125th Anniversary Gala?#34;didn't know that already, they know it now. With the deadline for responding to invitations having passed last Friday, Karen Dale, Dawn Bussey and Mary "Rogue" Weiland want everybody to make like Frank Sinatra and "start spreading the word."

125th Anniversary Committee Chairman Laurel McMahon was doing her part to spread that word Monday night at the monthly River Forest park board meeting.

McMahon began by assuring the park board commissioners "once again that there are no plans to remove the ball diamond from Cummings Square Park." Last month the unanticipated release of what McMahon and other 125th officials termed "very preliminary" sketches of proposed changes to the park?#34;including the apparent lack of a ball diamond that is currently in the park?#34;was met with pointed objections from several park board members.

Proceeds from the gala will benefit the restoration of the Cummings Memorial bandshell located near Lake & Harlem. Officials from Village President Frank Paris to McMahon to Park Board President Steve Dudek have since made it clear that there are no plans to remove the ball diamond. Organizers of the 125th Gala have been reticent about commenting on the controversy, preferring to avoid any further misunderstanding, and to accentuate the positive.

The 125th Anniversary Gala, which will feature hors d'oeuvres, cocktails and a variety of musical entertainments, goes from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 17 at Dominican University. Besides a variety of local musical acts, attendees will also be able to view the opening of the "Artists of River Forest" gallery.

Rogue Weiland, who is handling the RSVPs, said, "A lot of people tell us they're coming. I just haven't seen their RSVPs yet."

"We're getting a flurry of them now," Dale said Monday, adding that children are more than welcome to attend.

Dale said she'll happily take additional ticket requests, despite the lapsed deadline, but said she hopes people will get those RSVPs in ASAP. Late ticket requests, she noted, are a bit of a problem for the people at Dominican University who are handling the catering, and need to know how many people they have to prepare food for.

"We told them that we're expecting people to send in ticket requests late," said Dale, who added that as of Monday, Weiland had received 110 RSVPs.

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