On The National Register!!!

The iconic covered bridge in historic downtown Long Grove is a symbol of our village around the globe.

The iconic covered bridge in historic downtown Long Grove is a symbol of our village around the globe.  As of today, it is officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It’s Official! Our covered bridge in downtown Long Grove has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places! I’m so excited to be able to finally post this happy news! Please see the press release below for more details:

Long Grove’s Iconic Covered Bridge listed in National Register of Historic Places

The National Park Service has announced today that the Buffalo Creek Bridge, more commonly known as the Long Grove Covered Bridge, is being placed on the National Register of Historic Places. This is the first property in Long Grove to receive this prestigious designation.

Originally constructed in 1906 by the Joliet Bridge and Iron Company, the bridge is one of only two remaining of its kind in the greater Chicagoland area. Grass roots efforts for historic preservation and national recognition were rekindled early in 2017 when some local officials questioned the historic value of the one-lane bridge and favored a plan that would require removal of the current structure and increase truck and auto traffic through the pedestrian friendly downtown. In April of 2017, Landmarks Illinois, named the bridge to their annual “List of Endangered Historic Places.” A change.org petition urging local officials to save the historic bridge gathered over 4,900 signatures/testimonials and a fund-raising campaign has raised over $50,000 in monetary donations and pledges. Despite these efforts, local officials remain undecided on a long term course of action to restore or replace the bridge.

“For many years, the Long Grove Historical Society has been at the forefront of efforts to receive this designation, and we are thrilled to hear the news. Achieving National Register status confirms our belief in the bridge’s historical value as well as the sentimental value we know it holds for our community. This is a source of pride for all of Long Grove and we will continue to advocate for preservation of our beloved covered bridge,” noted Historical Society President Angie Underwood.

Ryan Messner, Vice-President of the Historic Downtown Long Grove Business Association added, “It’s our icon and our brand. For decades, Long Grove was a destination, and now the general feeling is that with the recent new business openings we’ve turned the corner and are solidly on our way back. It’d be foolish to destroy this treasure that has now been recognized with national historical status, and open up the quaint downtown to cut through traffic.”

An impromptu public celebration will be held in the coming weeks. Please check the Long Grove Historical Society website at longgrovehistory.org for updated details. More information about the bridge and the efforts to save it can be found online at SaveTheBridge.net

Members of the Long Grove Historical Society giving thumbs-up to the good news!

Members of the Long Grove Historical Society giving thumbs-up to the good news!

Chocolate Fest 2018

Enjoying the talents of professional  Puppeteer Krist Neumann is part of the fun to be had this weekend at Chocolate Fest in Long Grove!

Enjoying the talents of professional Puppeteer Krist Neumann is part of the fun to be had this weekend at Chocolate Fest in Long Grove!

Festival season has returned to downtown Long Grove, with this weekend’s Chocolate Fest kicking off the fun and entertainment. Yesterday’s comfortable temperatures and calm skies made it a pleasure for those attending, and for the merchants who enjoyed the healthy crowds. It was the perfect evening to relax in the outdoor seating at Broken Earth Winery, share a bottle of merlot and a pizza from Joanie’s, and enjoy the festival people-watching.

With Jodi Smith on the porch of Broken Earth Winery, soaking in the festival ambiance.

With Jodi Smith on the porch of Broken Earth Winery, soaking in the festival ambiance.

Of course, you can’t attend Chocolate Fest and not sample a bit (or a bunch) of chocolate! Among the many tempting options were classics like fresh chocolate dipped strawberries, and clever new combinations like chocolate bourbon espresso ice cream. Yep, I can verify that both are worth the indulgence. And who can resist a signature Long Grove specialty, the apple cider donut, covered in chocolate and placed on a stick for maximum enjoyment and festival portability? Not me!

As far as entertainment goes, there are carnival rides for the kids as well as free children’s activities on Towner Green. The Historical Society once again hosted a show on the back porch of our farmhouse featuring local youths and adults (and puppets!) in the family friendly production, “Chocolate, Chronicled.” Headlining bands round out the festival evenings and the street in front of the main stage at the covered bridge was packed last night with music lovers. Click below to view a snippet. Chocolate Fest continues today, May 20th until 5:00 pm in the historic downtown.

 

Mother’s Day Fashionistas

Long Grove boutique owners (L to R) Lynne Jankovec of Olivia's and Mira Pinscher of Bella Donna at the May 10, 2018 Fashion Show.

Long Grove boutique owners (L to R) Lynne Jankovec of Olivia’s and Mira Pinscher of Bella Donna looking stylish at the May 10, 2018 Fashion Show.

Now that Spring weather has finally arrived in Long Grove, it’s time to shift those boots and heavy sweaters to the back of the closet and make way for sandals and sundresses. To help you with that, we have two stylish boutiques in Long Grove chock full of beautiful things to wear in the warm months ahead. And I know this for a fact, because I attended the recent Mother’s Day Fashion Show at the Grove Country Club put on by Lynne Jankovec of Olivia’s and Mira Pinscher of Bella Donna.  This annual event has been held for the last five years and is always a really fun night out with the ladies while enjoying a preview of both the fashion forward and classic looks for the season. In addition, there was a bit of on-site shopping to enjoy and raffle prizes to bid on, with the proceeds going to support the fight against breast cancer. I was excited to find the perfect summery dress to take with me on vacation next month–and I’m still contemplating that matching hat!

No matter where this summer takes you, be it afternoons in the park, lunch in the garden with your girlfriends, or a romantic sunset dinner on Santorini, Lynne and Mira can dress you in the perfect attire. This weekend is a great time to stop by, as Chocolate Fest returns to Long Grove on Friday, Saturday and Sunday May 18-20. Now that is a winning combination if there ever was one–new clothes AND chocolate!

How Sweet It Is

Ethel Berger (on the left) and I offered our congratulations to owner Craig Leva on the Grand Opening of the new location of the Long Grove Confectionery.

Ethel Berger (on the right) and I offered our congratulations to owner Craig Leva at the Grand Opening of the newly located Long Grove Confectionery.

Smiles abounded on a perfect springtime evening last Friday for the Grand Opening celebration at the newly renovated Long Grove Confectionery. A year in the making, our town’s namesake sweet spot has happily settled in their new location alongside Towner Green, now offering much more than delicious chocolate creations. Besides locally famous Myrtles (recently named one of “Chicago’s Best” by WGN Channel 9!) you can now also purchase Long Grove Apple Haus favorites like apple cider donuts and Uncle Johnny’s brown bag apple pies. A demonstration kitchen is part of the new retail shop, where customers can watch strawberries and other treats being created and coated in luscious chocolate. The Confectionery expanded to include the next-door Long Grove Coffee Company, which opened this past December. Already a favorite gathering spot with the locals, it features occasional weekend live music and a patio for relaxing in the warmer months to come. A chef is now on staff to create soups and fresh bakery items and coming soon, signature sandwiches.

The party was a lovely celebration of the culmination of 12 months worth of remodeling. It featured a live band, beautiful spread of appetizers, a chocolate fountain (of course!) and my favorite new discovery, apple pie pops. Several hundred people stopped by to offer Confectionery owner Craig Leva and his staff kudos on the beautiful new spaces.

As a former elected official and resident who cares deeply about our Village, it warms my heart to see the investment being made by the Long Grove Confectionery in the future of our downtown. New stores and renovated spaces bring excitement and positive energy to all. And for this chocoholic, having our hometown Confectionery up and running bigger and better than ever makes me very, very happy!

Maureen introduced me to a new  indulgence--apple pie pops. Simply Scrumptious!

Maureen introduced me to a new indulgence–apple pie pops. Simply Scrumptious!

 

Harbor Chase of Long Grove

Members of the community, Historical Society, and downtown Merchants Association gathered to hear a presentation on local history and welcome Harbor Chase to Long Grove.

Members of the community, Historical Society, and downtown Merchants Association gathered to hear a presentation on local history and welcome Harbor Chase to Long Grove.

Earlier this year Long Grove’s newest Senior living community, Harbor Chase of Long Grove, held their grand opening celebration. While I was unable to attend the big party, it was great to be invited for a personal tour and to speak at a luncheon this past week at the newly built assisted living and memory care facility. Enlisting the help of my husband Aaron (who writes for Long Grove Living magazine and loves to tell a story or two…) we gave an educational program on “The History and Architecture of Long Grove.” The Historical Society enjoyed partnering with our new neighbors at Harbor Chase to provide some community enrichment, and I hope this will be the first of many opportunities to work together.

Everyone who attended the free luncheon was also given a full tour of the beautifully decorated facility. During my years on the Village Board I dealt with the many plans, renderings, approvals and resolutions needed to get this development underway. The end result is very elegant, with attention to detail and amenities like live music, beautiful flower arrangements, and homemade macaroons, not just on special occasions but as part of the everyday lifestyle. There is even a resident puppy to bring smiles and lively energy!

Having this new business in downtown Long Grove is a key piece of the redevelopment efforts that are funding current infrastructure improvements, such as extending the water system. Just one more reason for us all to say, “Welcome, Harbor Chase!”

 

Aaron Underwood stands next to the "Covered Bridge Room" at Harbor Chase. The "Crackerjack" lounge/bar area also pays homage to local history--it's the name of Long Grove's 1906 baseball team.

Aaron Underwood stands next to the “Covered Bridge Room” at Harbor Chase. The “Crackerjack” lounge/bar area also pays homage to local history–it’s the name of Long Grove’s 1906 baseball team.

 

Springing Forward

Lori and Mike Lyman took to the dance floor in support of the Long Grove Arts and Music Council at their March 10th Jazz & Dance Fundraiser.

Lori and Mike Lyman took to the dance floor in support of the Long Grove Arts and Music Council at the March 10th Jazz & Dance Fundraiser.

The transition from winter to spring is a long and drawn-out process in our part of the Midwest. Each day we are gifted with a few more minutes of sunshine to enjoy, but our gardens and open spaces remain brown, drab, and lackluster. One week we are seduced to leave the heavy coats behind as the promise of warmer weather beckons, only to have another round of sub-freezing temps and snow flurries slap us with a reminder that, in fact, winter is still in charge. Setting our clocks ahead one hour this morning is another positive indication that a new season is on the horizon. The Long Grove Arts and Music Council provided a great opportunity last night to enliven yet one more cold and dreary winter night in the best possible way–with a Jazzy array of food, music, dancing, friends and philanthropy.

To raise funds and excitement for the 2018 Summer Concert Series, a benefit was held at the newly opened Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Long Grove. It was heartwarming to see the many donations local merchants and residents provided for the silent auction. A live jazz band was on hand to provide upbeat entertainment, as supporters and council volunteers mixed and mingled and generally enjoyed the congenial atmosphere. To me, it was another encouraging example of the revitalization efforts in our historic downtown these past several years paying off. Long Grove residents now have many options to come together and socialize locally, and in the case of last night, to also support a group that provides free summer concerts benefiting the broader community at large. And despite the current reluctance of winter to give way, it’s enough to put a little spring in my step!

Ethel Berger, Arts and Music Council Artistic Director (on the left) and Mary Prekop of the Long Grove Confectionery check out the bidding competition on the silent auction items.

Ethel Robey-Berger, Arts and Music Council Artistic Director (on the left) and Mary Prekop of the Long Grove Confectionery check out the bidding competition on the silent auction items.

Cocoa Crawl

Long Grove residents (L to R): Miles Tyer, Kristen Wojicik, Pam Pasminski, and Katie Tyer are all smiles after completing the Cocoa Crawl held in downtown Long Grove on February 3rd.

Long Grove residents (L to R): Miles Tyer, Kristen Wojicik, Pam Pasminski, and Katie Tyer are all smiles after completing the Cocoa Crawl held in downtown Long Grove on February 3rd.

Like most of Long Grove, I’m taking a “snow day” today by staying inside and off the roads so that the snowplows can dig us out before the next predicted wave of snow hits later this evening. And while a herd of deer are obviously having fun cavorting through the snow drifts in my back yard, I’m choosing to stay indoors and enjoying a cup of hot chocolate while blogging and reading. It’s the perfect opportunity to tell you about the Cocoa Crawl.

Held last Saturday, February 3rd, the Cocoa Crawl was a new idea initiated by the Historic Long Grove Downtown Business Association. On a typically slow winter weekend, residents and visitors were encouraged to come to our village crossroads and explore all the unique shops, restaurants and businesses with the enticement of free chocolate flavored samples at each location. Who does not love free chocolate? Apparently no one, because the event was a hit and downtown Long Grove was literally crawling with hundreds of families out to enjoy the treats, snacks and hometown ambiance. My friend Pam and I had a great time catching up with friends and neighbors that we haven’t seen for months as we hibernate our way through the winter season.

Here are just a few of the goodies we enjoyed: Chocolate Macroons at Within Reach, Hot Chocolate Popcorn at Signature Popcorn, Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar at The Olive Tap, Chocolate Pudding cups topped with Baileys Irish Cream at Unwined, and Hot Chocolate Bark at the Long Grove Confectionery.  We would have had more but mercifully (for our diets) some of the locations had run out of samples by the time we got there due to the large number of attendees to this inaugural event. At the end of our afternoon we stopped back to register for the raffle prize drawing, with 20 of the local businesses donating gift baskets or gift certificates to the festivities. It was great to see so many people enjoying our downtown and becoming acquainted with the newly renovated and opened shops. A tip of my snowman shaped cocoa mug to you, downtown merchants, for an inspired idea!

Taking a break from our crawling, Pam and I enjoyed a short rest under the "chocolate hot tub" outside of the Long Grove Coffee Company.

Taking a break from our crawling, Pam and I enjoyed a short rest under the “chocolate hot tub” outside of the Long Grove Coffee Company.

Award Winning Excellence

Left to Right: Citizen of the Year John Kopecky celebrates with fellow award winners Jenny and Rich Wierzchon of Primrose School of Long Grove, Best New Business.

Left to Right: Citizen of the Year John Kopecky celebrates with fellow award winners Jenny and Rich Wierzchon of Primrose School of Long Grove, Best New Business.

Don’t you just love it on those rare occasions when the stars align and good things happen to truly deserving people? Long Grove was shining bright last night at the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Evening of Excellence event. What a thrill it was to celebrate John Kopecky as he was presented with the Citizen of the Year Award, and to cheer the success of Jenny and Rich Wierzchon of Primrose School as they were recognized as the Best New Business. In addition to awards, the night was filled with friends, good food, dancing, and pride in our community.

It is a generally held opinion in town that John Kopecky is an amazing volunteer who helps out anyone and anywhere he sees a need. It is impossible to list all the wonderful ways in which John has helped our village over the many years he has owned his downtown business, The Country House, and even prior to that growing up in the Long Grove area. Need a dozen or so creative mini golf holes for the Lions putt-putt fundraiser? John will design and build them. Clever marketing ideas and a giant teddy bear to promote the downtown festivals? Done. How about acquiring a historic tractor (or two) and wagon, then tirelessly driving loads upon loads of visitors throughout the historic downtown for Vintage Days, on your birthday? His pleasure. Emergency repairs to brewery equipment? Just call him MacGuyver. Another truck has hit and damaged the covered bridge? John is getting out the ladder and paint bucket as we speak. Need someone to portray “crazy” Jake Eisler or Mrs. Bigfoot in the annual Ghostwalk? Say no more. I could go on and on but I think you get the picture of just how indispensable John is to the fiber of our village. And beloved. Several of us from the community were moved to nominated John for this award and it is so richly deserved. Congratulations!

Jenny and Rich Wierzchon have parlayed their passion for early childhood education into the creation and establishment of the Primrose School of Long Grove. I was there for the ground breaking in October of 2015, and have been delighted to watch this new business grow into a real asset for our community. See my earlier post here about the Primrose Promise. Here’s to many more years of success!

While it is exciting to be recognized with an award, the real prize for our community is having John, Jenny and Rich giving every day in their own winning ways to make Long Grove such a great place to live. We salute you! Check out a short clip of the awards presentations below:

 

Attendees at the Evening of Excellence (L to R): Angie Underwood, John Kopecky, Aaron Underwood, Amy Gayton, and Vicki Kopecky.

Attendees at the Evening of Excellence (L to R): Angie Underwood, John Kopecky, Aaron Underwood, Amy Gayton, and Vicki Kopecky.

Yuletide Sing

Historical Society Yuletide Sing Songmaster Mike Dvorak was seen recently recruiting Santa to the event.

Historical Society Yuletide Sing Songmaster Mike Dvorak was seen recently attempting to recruit Santa to the event.

One of my favorite holiday memories as a kid was going Christmas caroling door to door in my hometown. The Long Grove Historical Society is looking to revive this tradition with our Yuletide Sing event, being held this Saturday, December 9th. Instead of walking throughout town (which is challenging with most of us living on 2-3 acre lots!) we will congregate on the back porch patio of our historical 1860’s farmhouse and join together in songs of the season from 6:00 to 7:00 pm. We will be accompanied by a special Yuletide Band featuring guitar, keyboard and hand percussion performed by Zack and Josh Langhoff and Mike Dvorak. The sing-a-long set list will include such holiday favorites as: Deck the Hall, Frosty the Snowman, Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel. Don’t worry about remembering all the lyrics because song sheets will be available.

Everyone in the community is invited to this festive, free, family gathering, no RSVP necessary! Girl Scout Troop #40436 will be on hand to help lead the carols and provide some holiday warmth in the form of hot chocolate. There will also be a bonfire to help keep the chill off toes and fingers. Be sure to dress for the winter weather as this event is outdoors.

Come gather this weekend and enjoy an old-fashioned hometown sing with your friends and neighbors, and celebrate the simple pleasures of the season. The beautiful holiday lights in our historic downtown are guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

Turkey Trot

turkey

The wild turkey shown in the photo above was caught on the cell phone camera of one of my neighbors, trotting through a Long Grove backyard in June of 2015. Today we had Turkey Trotters of a different sort in town, as thousands of fitness enthusiasts (and those just wanting to burn off a few calories in advance) got their steps in under our covered bridge in the annual 8K/5K event. Our historic downtown benefited from the many post-race revelers toasting the holiday with a beverage of choice, be it craft beer or coffee from one of our new local gathering spots. I myself was trotting this morning down the aisles of Sunset Foods, gathering supplies for the family feast we are hosting tomorrow. I was pleasantly surprised at how many racers I encountered in the store, fueling up or picking up those last minute items for the turkey dinner ahead. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Pictured (L to R) are my husband Aaron, father-in-law Joe, and son Alex at the 2013 Turkey Trot.

Pictured (L to R) are my husband Aaron, father-in-law Joe, and son Alex at the 2013 Turkey Trot.