How does OPRF pay for all those roses?


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Mindful that it was to be the Class of 2006's last school assembly, the Oak Park and River Forest High School administration took pains to make commencement an elegant one. Besides requiring that soon-to-be-graduates dress in black, dark blue and white, the school provided each outgoing senior with a rose bouquet or boutonniere.

Considering that there were so many graduates, we wondered about those flowers?#34;how many and how much?

According to Kay Foran, director of Communications/Community Relations, OPRF contracted with Westgate Flower & Plant Shop to supply approximately 316 bouquets, 325 boutonnieres, and three stage floral arrangements at a cost of $17 per bouquet, $2.25 per boutonniere and $125 per arrangement.

For those of us who?#34;high school graduates or no?#34;don't enjoy doing math, that comes out to $6,103.25 for the wearable botanic accessories and $375 for the stage decorations.

The cost of the bouquets and boutonnieres, at least, is covered by the $80 in fees paid by each senior at the beginning of the school year. Twenty-five dollars go towards a "senior commencement fee," which pays for several copies of a student's high school transcript, sent out with college applications; the diploma; and the flowers, according to Pam Jansen, an adminstrative assistant in the business office.

The roses had to be a specific type?#34;Freedom or Royal ("They hold up the best," Foran said)?#34;and were carefully arranged by Westgate employees: The roses were dethorned, the cellophane wrapper was opened at the front, and the red ribbon that completed the ensemble would not run when wet.

OPRF checks with several local florists for costs, but has been happy with its relationship with Westgate. "Due to the low cost, quality of roses, bouquets, boutonnieres and customer service that OPRF receives from Westgate Florist," Jansen wrote in an e-mail, "the other florists do not compare."

Fireworks tally

And how about those fireworks? And how much do those cost? Park District Executive Director Gary Balling sent us some details. The show, sponsored by Community Bank and produced by Mad Bomber Fireworks Productions out of Elgin, costs $11,000 (i.e. $10,000 for the main show and $1,000 for the finale, which is sponsored by Wednesday Journal). According to Balling, "because of space constraints at OPRF, the show is limited to 3- and 4-inch shells. Several years ago, we stopped using 5-inch shells. The larger the space and farther the audience is from the firing area, the larger the shells that can be used." And just in case, the show carries $5 million in liability insurance.

The fireworks each have names, by the way. The grand finale, for instance, which came off very well if we do say so ourselves, included Golden Kamuro Rainfalls, Red White & Blue Angle Barrages, Salutes with Silver Tails, Multi-Colored Peonies, Mix Chrysanthemums, Coconut Palms with Tails, Color-Changing Dahlias, Titanium Salutes with Tails, Gold Willow Diadem Brocades, and Brilliant Green to Gold Chrysanthemums.

Wild Oak Park?

The Historical Society's Tarzan exhibit was recently featured on "Wild Chicago's Illinois Road Trip," broadcast June 16, 18 and 20 on WTTW-Channel 11. Research Center Director Diane Hansen was interviewed for the segment.

Tarzan exhibit? Sure, complete with the ape-man's famous yell. Not your standard fare at your standard historical society, to be sure, but this is Oak Park, and Edgar Rice Burroughs published his first Tarzan novels while living here in the early part of the last century. If you're curious about the exhibit, the Historical Society is located on the second and third floors of Pleasant Home, located at the corners, not coincidentally, of Pleasant and Home.

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