While downtown development, Trump and crime dominated the headlines in 2017, we can’t help but look back with fondness for the more offbeat stories that sparked the imagination — or at least gave us a chuckle.

Ashes to ashes

The story of a lone-wolf protector of the trees, who goes by the name “Scottie Ash Tree Seed,” reminded us why we love this village. Although Scott Carlini does not live in the village — he’s an Elmwood Park resident — he visits Oak Park on a regular basis to leave hand-written messages on tree stumps to inform residents about the tree that was removed.

Carlini message also criticize the removal, arguing that many ash trees — which are being removed by Oak Park Public Works because of the devastating emerald ash borer, an invasive Asian beetle that feeds on ash trees — can be saved by applying annual doses of pesticides.

Village Forester Rob Sproule said the village is sometimes “accused of removing trees that are healthy” but argued that infested trees can be hazardous due to dead branches falling and injuring people.

When pigs fly

An Oak Park resident captured the attention of the nation, following the election of Donald Trump, by announcing his design firm’s plan to temporarily float oversized inflatable gold pigs in front of the Trump sign on the reality-star-turned-president’s downtown tower.

That art installation by Oak Parker Jeffrey Roberts’ firm, New World Design Ltd., was put on hold in July after the Chicago transportation office denied a docking permit for the ship in the river that would anchor the pigs.

Roberts said at the time that New World isn’t giving up though, so expect to hear more on this in 2018.

One for the books

An Oak Parker made history, of sorts, this year when he challenged himself to do something no one had ever tried before — you can be the judge on why. In October, Oak Parker Nolan Adams set the Guinness World Record for running a mile while dribbling a basketball. He completed the mile in 6 minutes and 22 seconds. He is the only person to ever go for the record. No doubt he won’t be the last.

Adams admitted that he trained for the record attempt in the early morning “when there are fewer people around,” adding that running through the park dribbling a basketball “does get some side-eye.”

Wrong side of the acorn

It takes a lot to surprise us at Wednesday Journal headquarters these days, but we all got a kick out of a story published in March that noted the different species’ of squirrels between Oak Park and the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. 

“Austin is almost all fox squirrels, right up to the border in Oak Park, which mostly has gray squirrels,” according to Dan Protess, who produced the 16-webisode digital series “Urban Nature” for WTTW. 

Protess found that “in wealthier neighborhoods, there are more likely to be gray squirrels and in more affordable neighborhoods, there are more likely to be fox squirrels.”

That’s due in part to the two kinds of squirrels having different preferences in trees and spatial densities, he concluded.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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