RF 125th commission gears up for spring launch

? With "brainstorming" over, pressure grows to address critical agenda items for the celebration of the village's 125th anniversary.

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The River Forest 125th Anniversary planning committee has all the great ideas it can use. In fact, more than it can use, according to chairperson Laurel McMahon. The tasks now at hand, she told a meeting of the committee on Monday evening, are to firm up a calendar of events, and make the necessary preparations to launch the official start of the celebration within the next three months.

Saying that the time for coming up with ideas for the celebration is past, McMahon said, "I think our time for brainstorming is over. We're now working with a set of events and organizational participation."

McMahon stressed to her 19 colleagues that should work to get all calendar items firmed up as soon as possible. That calendar will likely be filled with everything from parades to house walks to a range of music and dance recitals to written and photographic historical presentations.

Time is also quickly becoming of the essence for a number of critical agenda items. A commemorative 125th Anniversary logo must be designed soon if street banners are to be designed, ordered, manufactured and hung throughout the village by April. When committee members started discussing various design options for that logo, McMahon asked for volunteers for a subcommittee to handle that task.

Jennifer GoodSmith, the executive director of university relations for Dominican University, volunteered to chair a sub-committee to design the logo. She and committee member Julia Faust said they will meet this week to begin that process.

Goodsmith, who has access to a full design studio at Dominican, expressed confidence that her group could produce a logo quickly, saying, "We produce 500 publications a year."

Any banners, it was also decided, would be open to sponsorship and purchase by local businesses as well as village organizations and institutions.

River Forest Park District Executive Director Tom Grundin, who was present along with Park District Program Director Michelle Biondo, said his organization would be willing to offer one or more of their planned 2005 programs for use under other organizations' banners.

"We'd be glad to do something," Grundin told the group. "We may just target a couple of events from the park district and advertise it as yours."

Grundin also offered use of Keystone Park's light poles for mounting banners. Among the other events that committee liaison Jeff Sophian will be considering with Grundin and Biondo are the Memorial Day Parade, the district's Concerts in the Park series, and the popular Ice Cream Social and Automobile Show at Priory Park.

McMahon pointed to several recent positive developments. One major event just prior to the actual anniversary date is the Oak Park River Forest Homecoming Parade. McMahon said that OPRF Superintendent/Principal Susan Bridge has offered to allow the committee to piggyback their planned October parade onto the school's.

"Sue Bridge is very excited about this," said McMahon. "She's always wanted to make it more community based."

McMahon has also been talking with Whole Foods Market about underwriting a large formal fundraiser on River Forest Town Center property. Tentatively planned for June, the event will likely be a more formal affair. McMahon said she will be meeting within the next several days with local and regional officials of Whole Foods to further discuss their intentions.

McMahon told the committee she was also encouraged by a recent call from a representative of Community Bank of Oak Park and River Forest, who expressed interest in the anniversary celebration.

McMahon emphasized Monday that numerous groups throughout River Forest that her committee is working with will be largely responsible for planning and funding their own activities throughout the celebration period. It was never the intention of the Anniversary committee, she noted, to fund the celebrations of those groups. Rather, she said, the committee was created to deal with over all coordinating and scheduling of other groups' events through the year, handling such tasks as coordinating media coverage.

"My job is to be a clearing house," said McMahon, "to maintain the calendar." She  expressed satisfaction with the depth of enthusiasm from throughout the village, saying "From every corner of the village, people have been responding."

Staying in touch with all those groups, she said, will be a central task.

Related to that task, McMahon also introduced the committee's new intern, Dominican University senior Summer Cheslock, whose first duties involved keeping the minutes for Monday night's meeting. Cheslock will be working with the committee at least through the spring, assisting mainly with the myriad clerical and communications details still facing the committee.

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