It's Sept. 11. time for River Forest's LemonAid

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

By Deb Kadin

You knew you were near the 700 block of Bonnie Brae Wednesday afternoon because of all the folks in yellow T-shirts standing on the corners, directing folks to come and partake.

Each Sept. 11 since 2002, this area becomes one huge block party and social event for River Forest's extended family, the scene of one of the community's best-known charities -- LemonAid.

And this year's kid-organized charity effort did not disappoint. Even with threatening skies, streams of youngsters, parents – an occasional dog or two or three – hovered around a huge table to get a cup of lemonade and grab a cookie or a brownie and to help raise thousands for a good, local cause.

People knew where the LemonAid stand was situated – you could see the crowd belly up to the tent and grab the glasses. This year there was an added "signpost." Patty Henek's son is a freshman in the OPRF marching band, and as part of the initiation, his house was toilet-papered on Saturday night.

Most of it had been removed, saved for big streamers hanging from a big tree in front of the house. "They did a pretty thorough job," she said. "It adds to the décor."

Most were just there to grab a snack. Ten-year-old Nathan Krippner and his younger brother Owen did just that and headed home. For them the LemonAid Stand was also a place to hang out with friends.

Nathan said it was pretty cool that kids got a chance to do their part.

"It's nice that they do all this. River Forest isn't that big, but this sure brings in a lot of people," he said.

Kelly Richard, who brought her three sons to partake in the festivities, had to park a couple of blocks away, but it was absolutely worth it.

"We're here to support the kids," Richard said. "This is a great idea."

On the other side of a table, set up underneath a big tent, kids were handing out cookies; others were pouring the lemonade. Davis Birmingham, who had been involved in this for a couple of years, marveled at how the effort had grown.

"It's really cool. The more people hear about it, they tell their friends, and then they all come out."

Each and every time a check or dollar bills got dropped into a glass jar, a cowbell clanged. The hope was that there'd be a whole lot of noise so that this year's charity – Oak-Leyden Developmental Services – could raise some funds to build a playground for its clients.

The agency's board president, Tony Grant, was thrilled to be there and see all the people. "It's wonderful to be a part of the Oak Park-River Forest community," said Grant, whose group aids children and adults with developmental disabilities. "This is great exposure for us and what we do."

North of the LemonAid stand kids were getting their hair spray painted – some came out with pink, others with green and yellow.

Will Hoey got his painted red, white and blue as a tribute to 9-11. The LemonAid Stand began in 2002, a year after terrorist attacks in the U.S., to celebrate the importance of giving back. That event was definitely on his mind, he said.

"This is all about kids helping kids," he said. "It's a good place to meet up with friends."

The LemonAid Stand also became a re-hydration stop for the Fenwick girl's cross-country team, as about 30 of them, on a shortened run, stopped by, grabbed a glass, took a breather and ran back to school.

Mary Cate Connelly, a senior, said the coach collected donations for the cause. One of the two team coaches, Kevin Roche, said "it was great that this came out of such a tragic event."

Kids are involved in nearly every aspect of the event. Two teens – Madeline Strand and Riley Edmunds – organized this year's effort.

Strand was thrilled at seeing the crowds, but she also was a bit sad.

"I don't know what I'm going to do with myself after this," said Strand, who'd been working on it for a few months. "I just hope the rain holds off so more people can come out."

Reader Comments

13 Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Any idea how much was raised?  

Posted: September 17th, 2013 9:41 AM


Donna Slepica from River Forest  

Posted: September 16th, 2013 10:44 PM

Congrats on another wonderful year for the LemonAid Stand. It's so wonderful to have such a great tradition in our Village to recognize and remember all those we lost and those effected by the loss. A special thank you to Tom Michael for the beautiful wooden remembrance sign he donated this year. It really symbolizes a moment in our history.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: September 13th, 2013 3:48 PM

Carrie, I think For Profit Business was complimenting WFM for donating the lemonade, not cricizing the kids for not making it.


Posted: September 12th, 2013 12:25 PM

Does it really matter who made what and who didn't? And so on? Big deal they didn't make the lemonade themselves. What this is is a great way for a community to come together... To celebrate helping each other and the community... For remembrance of that horrible day, otherwise known as 9/11.

For Profit business from RF  

Posted: September 12th, 2013 11:20 AM

My business did not donate but will in the future. If it was not for Whole Foods....there would be no lemonAid! The children volunteer their time to serve and bake goods...they did not make the lemonade. Patronize these businesses....they care about our children too.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2013 12:42 AM

Ditto to what Bill Dwyer said. Seesh to the comment labeling the very generous donations from the business community as "off-putting." I actually took a photo with my phone of the sign listing all the businesses, so that I can make a concerted effort to patronize them in the future.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: September 11th, 2013 11:10 PM

"What Bill Dwyer said. Seesh." Your point is a tad vague, Bridgett. Care to elaborate?

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: September 11th, 2013 10:22 PM

What Bill Dwyer said. Seesh. On another note, for those unable to attend but want to donate, here's the website....

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: September 11th, 2013 9:10 PM

To be clear, the for-profit-businesses involved all donated their time and product.


Posted: September 11th, 2013 9:04 PM

I was impressed by all the volunteers, especially the children, for working tirelessly in such heat. It's a great opportunity for youth to learn the importance of volunteering. It warmed my heart to see such a display of community.

Love the Kids from River Forest  

Posted: September 11th, 2013 8:50 PM

The kids working the snack and lemonaid table are outstanding and their effort is wonderful. Oak-Leyden is a worthy cause. Must say, however, that it is off-putting to see for-profit businesses in the mix. They detract from the essential character of the event.

Happy Neighbor from Oak Park  

Posted: September 11th, 2013 8:10 PM

Loved this event! It was amazing to see so many people come out to support these passionate kids and everyone who's helped them over the years. It really shows how our towns can be great neighbors. And so glad to hear Oak-Leyden was selected! They've been wanting to build a playground for the children they help for a while now, so I'm excited to know their dream will come true!

Steve from River Forest  

Posted: September 11th, 2013 7:47 PM


Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2017

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2017 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad