Did you know that in Oak Park, it’s actually unlawful to beg?

Peruse the “village code” link on both Oak Park’s and River Forest’s Web sites to find more than liquor and land laws.

Oak Park has, for instance, an ordinance on spiritualism and “other forms of fortune telling.”

More specifically, the ordinance reads: “It shall be unlawful for any person to obtain any money or property from another by fraudulent devices and practices in the name of, or by means of spirit mediumship, palmistry, card reading, astrology, seership or like crafty science, or fortune telling of any kind.”

Not too familiar with seership? Think psychics or clairvoyance-among other crafty sciences. Concerning this ordinance, it’s also unlawful for any person to hold or give a public séance of any kind in the name of spiritualism.

While searching Oak Park’s Web site, an ordinance on second-hand clothing popped up. There’s actually an ordinance about passing off second-hand clothing that’s not been properly disinfected. Oak Park has its share of garage sales in the summer, but whether homeowners are aware of this law before putting out Dad’s old zoot suit from the ’40s before having it dry-cleaned is unknown.

River Forest has its share of obscure or perhaps even outdated village codes.

The nuclear scare of the 1950s resulted in some laws passed in locales across the country about where to build the family’s fallout shelter in case a bomb was dropped. In River Forest, you’ll need a permit to build one.

“No person shall construct a family fallout shelter upon private property unless a permit shall have been issued therefore,” the RF ordinance reads.

But that just covers the permit. River Forest has another ordinance strictly addressing usage.

“Family fallout shelters shall be used for the sole protection from fallout during a national emergency, and for no other purpose.”

That likely includes hosting basement parties or storing Granddad’s old golf clubs.

Noise is covered extensively in both villages’ codes. Nuisances, in general, are also covered.

A River Forest ordinance lists several prohibited nuisances, including creating offensive smells by any business, or allowing dead carcasses or garbage to collect at the prejudice of other residents.

Some ordinances are not as tightly enforced, such as Oak Park’s school curfew law.

“It shall be unlawful for any person over the age of five (5) and under the age of eighteen (18) who is enrolled in any public, private or parochial school to be present in any public place, building, street, or assembly in the Village of Oak Park, other than school, while school is in session during the regular school term,” according to this ordinance.

The police may stop or detain a person for being in violation, the ordinance continues, but not for more than 15 minutes “for the purpose of verifying the person’s identity, age, school enrollment and authority to be absent from school.”

Officials from both villages will rightly argue that no ordinance is approved frivolously. Though unintended, some laws on the books may serve a purpose but might also put a smile on your face.

No law against that.

CONTACT: tdean@wjin.com

Village code

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