Clear Sky festival moves to Keystone

Cops aim to engage tweens and teens

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By BILL DWYER

River Forest
After five years at Priory Park, the sixth edition of River Forest's popular Clear Sky Festival will take place this Saturday at the newly renovated Keystone Park.

The event, organized by the River Forest police department, the River Forest Park District and Oak Park and River Forest Township Youth Services, is a mix of music, games, food and drink, as well as a number of activities directed at young children through those in their mid-teens.

River Forest Deputy Chief of Police Kendra Sullivan said that by all measures last year's festival was a success.

"Our goal was to get youth from the fifth through ninth grades, and we think we did that," said Sullivan who estimated that between 500 and 700 people attended last year's festivities. Sullivan and her colleagues are hoping to do even better this year.

Last year organizers gave away T-shirts. This year they'll pass out backpacks and calculators. The Jesse White Tumblers will once again entertain the crowd, and kids will be able to enjoy a "bike rodeo," as well as several popular attractions from last year.

Food will again be a central attraction, with Robinson's Ribs, Mancini's Pizza and local restaurant Good to Go, among other vendors hosting food booths.

As in past years, the motto for the event will be "Go goofy on the games." And there will be plenty of games to excite kids of all ages.

While much of the funding for the festival's games comes from Cook County's Balanced Approach to Drugs and Gang Education (BADGE) program, local businesses and organizations are funding several of the main attractions. Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest will sponsor the "Velcro Wall," in which kids don velcro suits and throw themselves upside down against a huge wall of Velcro, then hang there, usually upside down, and usually laughing. If long waiting lines were any indication, the Velcro wall was one of the most popular attractions last year.

Other attractions include a towering climbing wall, sponsored by the River Forest Service Club, and a huge blow up slide, sponsored by the Rotary Club.

Sullivan is enthusiastic about Keystone's superior facilities, noting the better lighting and greater space, as well as modern accessible bathroom facilities.

Of course, those bright modern lights won't be needed at Keystone after 9 p.m. for one of the most popular games, the "glow in the dark" dodge ball tournament. The eventual winner of that tournament, which Sullivan said "had tons of kids last year," earns the right to play the police department.

Last year, Sullivan noted, the kids beat the cops.

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