This is going to be a very short blog post because I think the picture above says it all! We love our town, and Long Grove was a great place to be this weekend as we celebrated Summer Fest in the historic downtown with fun, families, food, carnival rides, and great music. It was cheerful to see so many neighbors, residents and merchants enjoying the festivities despite the seasonable heat. Besides, what’s a good summer festival without a little sizzle?
Today the members of the Long Grove-Kildeer Garden Club brought a little bit of beauty and joy into the lives of others. Five area private gardens were open to the public for tours this morning, to share the wonders of nature and raise a bit of money in the process. Whenever I attend this event I invariably come away with creative ideas and inspiration, and also a healthy dose of garden-envy. We have some seriously talented (and hard working) gardeners in our corner of Lake County! The gardens featured this year in the annual Garden Walk were quite diverse and unique: vegetable gardens, unusual flowers, water features, a serene Japanese garden, fruit trees and berries, wildflowers, orchids, cactus, a garden shed to die for and even a couple of fairy gardens–we saw it all. Thankfully, Mother Nature set a perfect scene today for the gardens in all their glory.
By volunteering and participating in this event I was once again reminded of the best things our Village has to offer. Neighbors working together for a common goal were raising money for scholarships and stewardship work in our public Woodland and open spaces. And in the process, showcasing some outstanding gardens and those who create them; providing beauty and inspiration to fellow green thumbs in our community. Our local garden club is a real asset to Long Grove all year round, but in the summer it truly shines the brightest.
Many residents and merchants are proud of our Village, and have been showing their love for Long Grove by creating decorative mini bridges. In the past month, these little works of art have been slowly appearing in our historic downtown crossroads. I’m impressed by the efforts and artistic talent on display, and for the vibrant designs and rainbow of colors our merchants and residents have used to liven up the community for the summer.
One of my favorite bridges is pictured above. I love it for the especially fitting message of peace, hope, and respect. Regardless of ideology, politics, race, religion, creed, color, or whom we choose to love in this world, “All Lives Matter Here.” Bravo to Rachel Perkal and her staff at Epilogue, a lovely store here in Long Grove that features beautiful and unique works of art. It is one of my go-to spots when needing a special and memorable gift. Resident and artist Marie Roth was featured in a show this weekend of her one-of a kind American flags, created from reclaimed barn wood.
Art has a healing power, and love for one another is what truly matters.
This past week marked a milestone in history as Hillary Clinton became the first woman to secure major party support to be placed on the November ballot for President of the United States. Being raised in nearby Park Ridge, Hillary has her roots in Illinois and we do seem to have a heritage of strong women leaders here in our neck of the woods. Today I want to celebrate the birthdays of just a couple of examples.
All of us in Long Grove are delighted to send our best wishes to Barbara Turner today, June 13, 2016, as she celebrates her 97th birthday! Barbara and her family have been instrumental in preserving and sharing some of our high-quality open spaces and natural areas in the Village, as well as advocating for conservation efforts throughout Lake County. Barbara has been a resident of Long Grove since her youth, and has served the community in many capacities over the years. She is well known to a generation of students as the librarian at Kildeer Countryside School, and was one of the founders of the Long Grove Historical Society, serving as curator and co-authoring a book about our local history. These days Barbara is less able to get out in her beloved nature preserve and battle back the invasive species, but we all know if she could be alongside the interns at Reed-Turner pulling garlic mustard today, she would be! Happy Birthday, Barbara.
Another happy milestone was the 30th Birthday Celebration that I recently attended for a group know as WINGS (Women Interested/In Government Service). This Lake County organization was created to encourage women to seek elected office and offer support and education for those women in leadership roles and interested in the political process. This group meets three times a year and offers inspiring speakers and valuable networking, as well as sponsoring an annual college scholarship. The birthday celebration featured a panel discussion with founding members of WINGS discussing their original dream for the organization back in 1986, and their hopes as we move forward. As we saw in the national events of last week, the contributions of women as leaders in America is a story that continues to be told.
In the year 1900, Long Grove’s first dance hall was built. Housed on a site next to what is now Kildeer Countryside School (and now serves as a parking lot for the old Zimmer Hotel building), this community building was erected at a cost of $2,500. Residents came together to help finance the construction of this social gathering spot, at a cost of $10 per share. According to local lore, dances were held upstairs on the weekends and refreshments were served downstairs, with a separate room to check coats and horse blankets in the winter. Known as Union Hall, dances continued to be held here into the 1940’s, after which it was sold to a turkey hatchery, then a manufacturing company that produced decorative wooden ducks. Years of accumulated sawdust and wood shavings helped fuel a spectacular fire in 1951 that burned the old Union Hall to the ground. Ironically, the fire department was located just down the street but the firefighters were away that evening attending a dance in a nearby town!
One century later, Long Grove’s popularity as a fun place to dance is about to come alive once again. I have recently had the opportunity to meet local resident Jesse DeSoto, a former “Pro” from Season 3 of the popular television show “Dancing With The Stars.” Jesse is in the process of purchasing the former Red Oaks property, and is currently working to relocate his Fred Astaire Dance Studio from Buffalo Grove to our historic downtown. In business for over the past 11 years, this franchise has been consistently ranked as one of the top Fred Astaire Dance Studios in the United States. The former big “barn” on the property is slated to be renovated and reconstructed into a Grand Ballroom, to be used for day to day lessons as well as accommodating social dance events. Future plans for the additional buildings on the site include possible retail and restaurant tenants. Jesse and some of his students recently appeared on ABC Channel 7 to help promote Chocolate Fest this past May. Click here to view a short clip of this.
I know that I speak for so many of the residents and merchants in Long Grove who are excited to welcome Jesse and his new business to our historic downtown. It is a great fit for our community, and truly a kick to see history repeating itself with a popular dance hall coming back to town. This time though, I say we skip the special cloak room for the horse blankets and opt for a disco ball instead!
In one of my favorite movies, Beauty and the Beast, Lumiere delightedly sings his famous tune “Be Our Guest“ as he prepares the castle to welcome visitors. Recently, my official duties have included welcoming several groups of guests to our modest but beloved municipal “castle,” Village Hall. This post will highlight two of these spring visits that I’ve had the pleasure of hosting.
On May 23rd, 80 third grade students and their teachers from Country Meadows Elementary School in Long Grove made a field trip to Village Hall as a part of a unit they are studying on community and government. The students learned about our own local government, and how we fit into the layers of county, state and federal government. We discussed the types of things our staff and elected officials do for the community, and what my job of Village President entails. For show & tell I passed around my gavel and shiny, official Village President badge, which was a big hit. The kids were also highly engaged when we did some role-playing, with student volunteers sitting at the board table as Trustees to help debate and decide one of the actual issues on the Village Board agenda for the following night: Should we allow the addition of carnival rides to the downtown Long Grove Summer Fest scheduled for June 24-26? Despite some very good discussion on safety concerns, it will probably come as no surprise to learn that all of our young residents voted in favor of this proposal! I promised the students that I would share their input with the Trustees at the meeting the following night, and in fact our actual board members took the future board members’ advice as the agenda item passed. Following their time in Village Hall, the field trip continued with a tour of the Archer one-room Schoolhouse, Outhouse, Pioneer Herb Garden and Ruth Barn, with help from docents Amy Gayton and Aaron Underwood of the Long Grove Historical Society. It was a delight to host our students from Country Meadows and sharing in their enthusiasm and energy was uplifting.
Another equally dynamic and energetic group was welcomed to our Village Hall and historic buildings on June 2nd, when I hosted the quarterly meeting of the Women’s Leadership Council of United Way of Lake County. Over $60,000. in grant funds was presented to local agencies and programs with the goal of increasing early childhood literacy and kindergarten readiness in the most high risk areas of Lake County. Hearing directly from the educators about the impact these grants make in the lives of the children was meaningful, as was the giant, glittery thank you card the kids created for us! The women of WLC appreciated the charming and relaxed atmosphere of the entire evening in Long Grove, from the start at Village Hall and continuing with tours of the historic buildings until ending at Broken Earth Winery. A nice benefit of my job is being able to share with others some of my favorite places in our Village.