Merry Christmas, dear blog readers! I have to admit that I was feeling a little bit of a Grinch-like attitude earlier this morning–my holiday overload reaching the peak. But then the magic of the season returned with delight, at non-other than Sunset Foods here in Long Grove. As my husband and I shopped for last-minute items to complete our Christmas Eve dinner, we smiled at the crazy holiday sweaters being worn by the employees. I would like to publicly thank Max, for not only bagging our groceries proficiently, but for showcasing the most colorful, creative, cute and clever sweater I’ve seen in my rounds of holiday festivities this year. Pictured above, the chic knitted pullover in a purple and teal snowflake pattern featured not only a Christmas unicorn clutching a candy cane in it’s mouth, but was festooned with blinking lights! (Unfortunately this didn’t come through in the picture, but believe me, it was brilliant!) As if that wasn’t enough, when we stopped by the Starbucks drive-thru on the way home, our drinks were free because a generous elf had gifted everyone in line behind him. Goodwill towards others abounded this afternoon in Long Grove, and reinforced to me what I like best about this time of year. Happy Holidays!
Feeling virtuous after surviving my morning strength training session, I stopped by downtown Long Grove to reward myself with an eggnog latte (I know…not as nutritious as a smoothie…but ’tis the season!) and what to my wondering eyes did appear–Santa! Seizing the opportunity for an interview, I spent a few minutes basking in his holiday glow and finding out what was up for the day.
Santa gave his reindeer this sunny Saturday off as he claimed to have driven himself to Long Grove, cruising down our newly resurfaced Old McHenry Road in his convertible, with the top down! I guess our 30 degree temps might feel tropical to someone acclimated to the North Pole. I asked him what kind of cookies he would like us to leave out this year on Christmas Eve, and get this–he is cutting back on the calories this holiday season and working out five times a week! Kudos to Santa for being a role model for healthy living, even though I still could not resist the temptation of the eggnog.
Visitors to Long Grove will get numerous chances to see Santa as he is spending the entire day in town, greeting families and listening to children’s wish lists at various shops and restaurants. The top of my wish list? Seeing our covered bridge restored. Tonight Santa is paying a special visit to the Historical Society farmhouse, to lead the start of holiday carols at 6:00 pm for our annual Yuletide Sing. This family friendly event is free and will feature complimentary hot chocolate and fire pits for warmth. I invited Santa to be our guest later tonight at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio’s Holiday Ball, “Dance your way to Fred’s Chalet.” Alas, even though Santa loves to dance he has plans to thank the local volunteers who make up the CERT team of first-responders, at their Christmas party. No doubt about it, Santa is a busy man these days spreading hope, happiness and holiday cheer throughout the village.
The Mayor Stick
While I was serving as Village President of Long Grove a friend humorously told me, “What you really need, Angie, is a magic wand.” Whichever issue of the moment I was expected to fix (the roads, the budget, the downtown, the bridge, the Rt. 53 extension, the flooding, the rogue trustee, the dead deer on the side of the road, etc…) could be so much more easily resolved if I only had the ability to flick my wrist, point my staff and make it so. Of course the reality is that the key to solving most problems in government involves a mixture of time, money, collaboration, compromise, and a process that must be followed. It does sometimes take a bit of magic to make this happen.
But to my surprise, I have discovered through my travels that there is at least one place in this world where the mayor of a village IS given a special stick. Peru, to be exact. While spending a few days in the town of Cusco, acclimating to the altitude before starting a trek to Macchu Pichu, my husband and I toured several historical sites and art galleries and I learned of the custom of the mayor stick. In ancient culture, the small mountain villages in the region surrounding Cusco depended on one another for trade and economic survival, as well as support in times of hardship. The Alcalde (mayor) of each village had a custom Palito (stick) which was handmade from chonta wood, a type of palm. These sticks were often traded or given to the mayors of neighboring villages during an annual celebration to encourage goodwill and prosperity. I absolutely loved this idea, and our tour guide was kind enough to find a store for me that sold these traditional mayor sticks.
Recently, I was able to gift a Peruvian palito to my friend and former colleague Nandia Black, who is serving as the mayor of our neighboring Village of Kildeer. Our towns have collaborated and supported each other in the past and we hope this continues for many more years to come. The exchange of mayor sticks took place over Mexican cuisine at the new Uncle Julio’s in Kildeer, and not on a mountain top in the Andes, but the sentiment of peacefulness and kindness remains the same. Maybe it’s not really a magic wand, but I’d like to think so.
A Scary Night in Long Grove
This past Friday, October 26th, things were feeling very “Halloweenish” in downtown Long Grove. Merchants hosted kids in costumes for trick-or-treating in the late afternoon, and the streets were alive with mini ghouls and ghosts sprinkled amidst the princesses and superheroes. I happened to be taking a dance lesson at Fred Astaire during this time, and it was a delight to see so many young families stopping in for candy. And hats off to the enthusiastic Dad who dressed as a purple and rainbow accessorized unicorn!
Later in the evening, the Historical Society Farmhouse became haunted with singing witches and warlocks, under the direction of crypt-keeper for the evening, Mike Dvorak. Families enjoyed relaxing on the patio with fire pits for warmth and spooky atmosphere. The Ghost of Cuba Road was even spotted in the back yard among the treeline, forever searching for directions. My personal favorite musical number of the evening was a custom version of “Werewolves of Long Grove.”
Another sighting of the Ghost occurred at Buffalo Creek Brewing following the show. Apparently, all that haunting works up a powerful appetite!
No place in Long Grove was safe, as Frankenstein was even spotted at the Dance Studio, menacing the local villagers.
The Headless Horseman of Long Grove
One of the three people pictured above is actually a sheriff, but it isn’t the one wearing the badge. Yes, strange things happen in Long Grove on Halloween, as witnessed during the Fifth Annual Ghost Walk last Friday night, sponsored by the Long Grove Historical Society. The event was a great success and one featured highlight was a menacing visit to the farmhouse by the Headless Horseman, aka Lake County Sheriff’s officer Greg Abshire.
Many other community volunteers pitched in on this cold night to bring thrills and chills to over 330 residents and visitors to our historic downtown. One survivor of my 6:00 pm tour group just happened to be a journalism student who was so taken with the experience that she wrote a fantastic story of her journey through haunted Long Grove. Click here to read Natalie Bober’s article published today on the Chicago Tribune website: Ghost Walk/Chicago Tribune Website Natalie says it better than I ever could!
The Ghosts Are Gathering
Rumor has it, strange sounds have been heard coming from the woods behind the new Brewery. Claims have been made of something lurking behind the farmhouse. And is the new Dance Studio really haunted? Come find out on Friday, October 27th, at the Long Grove Historical Society’s 5th Annual Ghost Walk.
Each year the event has been getting bigger and better, and this year will not disappoint! A true village collaboration showcasing our community “spirit,” the Ghost Walk will feature skits involving community groups and businesses such as:
- Long Grove Community Church
- In Motion Dance
- Long Grove Performing Arts Academy
- Fred Astaire Dance Studio
- Buffalo Creek Brewing
- Long Grove Lions Club
- Scout & Forge
- Country House of Long Grove
- Long Grove Arts & Music Council
- Historic Downtown Long Grove Business Association
- Volunteer resident mischief-makers
- And of course, the Long Grove Historical Society
The event is family friendly and tours run 6:00 pm thru 9:30 pm, rain or shine. Guides will escort you on a one hour haunted walk through our historic downtown. Advance registration is required along with a donation of $10/adults and $5/children, ages K-8th grade. Reservations can be made online only at LongGroveHistory.org. Due to high demand, this event sells out by mid-October so please make your reservations today!
Polly Pureheart Prevails
Last summer a new festival debuted in Long Grove, known as Vintage Days. The entire event was a huge success, pairing old-fashioned fun with community group volunteerism to produce a hometown festival put on by locals, for locals. Right now, organizations such as the Long Grove Community Church, Long Grove Performing Arts Academy, Long Grove Historical Society, Long Grove Arts & Music Council, and the Historic Downtown Long Grove Business Association have partnered together to plan a weekend full of family friendly entertainment and shopping, August 19th and 20th. Over 40 antique, vintage, upcycled, and/or reclaimed dealers will have unique items for sale on the Robert Parker Coffin Road street market in front of the covered bridge. The bridge crossing will be open to pedestrians, bikes, and vintage tractor traffic only, so it will be the perfect opportunity to come linger under our iconic bridge, which is poised to be listed on the National Register. Admission and parking are free, as well as the live music, historic tractor rides, ice cream social on Saturday at the church, and penny carnival on Sunday at the farmhouse.
A couple of new activities this year include the Pop-Up Car Show and two entertaining dramatic presentations at our farmhouse “back porch” stage. The car show will feature registered VIP parking for classic cars in the Stemple parking lot. On Saturday at 4:00, our farmhouse stage will host “A Salute to Old Glory,” as narrator Mike Dvorak takes audience volunteers back to 1814 to tell the story of the Star-Spangled Banner, followed by “Old Glory in Barnwood,” a presentation by artist Marie Roth featuring stories and selections from her celebrated collection of historic flag recreations. On Sunday, trade in your pennies (if you don’t have any, we will give you some!) for a chance at old-timey games and nifty prizes at the Penny Carnival from noon till 2:00, then stay for a wacky 1-act melodrama, “Polly Pureheart Prevails,” presented by the summer session theater students of the Long Grove Performing Arts Academy. Showtime for the half-hour performance is 2:00. Cap off the day by attending the 4:00 Arts & Music Council concert on Towner Green featuring the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band. And don’t forget–all of this is free of charge! Visit longgrove.org for a full listing of all the weekend activities.
Plan to bring the kids and grandkids to downtown Long Grove Saturday and Sunday, August 19th and 20th, for one last blast of summertime memories before school kicks into gear once more. Vintage Days will be rocking and rolling fun for the entire family–be there or be square!
Big Shoes to Fill
Each year at this time, the Long Grove Historical Society holds an annual meeting. It provides a nice opportunity to gather and celebrate the accomplishments of the past twelve months, thank the retiring officers, start brainstorming for the year ahead, and install the new executive board members. Last fall when I announced my retirement from the Village Board, and talk was floated that perhaps I would consider coming back to serve as President of the Historical Society again, the current President (my loving husband) quipped that, “well, I don’t know, she’d have some awfully big shoes to fill.” Admittedly, he was joking, but the rest of the women in the room lost no time in setting him straight. So I could not resist the opportunity to prove to everyone at the annual meeting that yes, in fact I can fill his shoes, and in 4 inch heels no less!
Teasing aside, the Historical Society has enjoyed a very successful year under Aaron’s leadership with the October Ghostwalk event in the downtown getting even bigger and better, and it will be a hard act to follow. The partnership between the Historical Society, Downtown Merchants, and the Long Grove Community Church has now grown beyond the Ghostwalk to include collaborating on activities for Vintage Days and advocating for the preservation of our one-lane historic covered bridge. Look for all of these activities to continue into the remainder of 2017 and 2018, with some new ideas thrown in for good measure. I am very enthused to be working with our new and returning Historical Society board members to preserve, share, and celebrate our unique Long Grove history. We hope that you will join with us!
An Unforgettable Experience
Now that I am winding down to my last few weeks in office, friends have been inquiring about what experiences I will remember most from my time as Village President. One memory that is forever burned into my brain is the referendum in Spring of 2014, when the residents were asked if they wanted to authorize a tax to pay for repairs to our thoroughfare roads in Long Grove. As it turned out, they didn’t. But the weeks leading up to election day and the month or so following were truly unforgettable. And the resulting experience of being interviewed, live, on a national network news channel stands out as a highlight. Here’s how it happened:
The 2014 referendum question had received quite a large amount of media attention, with a featured article appearing on the front page of the Chicago Tribune, and additional coverage by the Daily Herald and Crain’s Chicago Business. I was interviewed live on the radio by several local stations, including NPR. All of this caught the eye of FOX Business News, who came to Long Grove on a very snowy President’s Day in February of 2014. Throughout the day, as the snowflakes drifted down into a white-out blizzard, I was interviewed live for four separate segments, at different locations in the Village. The first spot was filmed in front of the covered bridge, but the subsequent three interviews were filmed live while I was driving the news team’s truck over our Long Grove roads, simultaneously answering questions, during an escalating snowstorm. I will never forget the reality TV challenge of giving articulate answers to the reporter’s questions while driving an unfamiliar truck as I pumped the brakes to stop skidding onto Route 53 and knowing that this was being broadcast live. I think I surprised everyone–staff, news crew, and myself–that I was able to pull this whole thing off and get everyone and the truck back to Village Hall in one piece. When it was all said and done I was dubbed “a real trouper” and I will say that it was a true lesson in grace under pressure!
The Full Moon Effect
Tonight I am fortunate to be sitting outside on my patio in Arizona, basking in the glow of a brightly illuminated full moon and listening to the coyotes howl. According to my husband’s quick google search, coyotes are more active during a full moon because it provides better hunting conditions, so more activity leads to more howling. I have often wondered if the full moon also causes changes in human behavior? According to our Village Staff, they think there is a correlation.
Psychology Today reports that in a University of New Orleans study, 81% of mental health professionals believe that lunar cycles affect human behavior. In his 1978 best seller, “How the Moon Affects You,” psychiatrist Arnold Lieber argued that because our human bodies are 65% water, the moon has an effect on us similar to its pull on the ocean’s tides. Everything from increases in violent crime and psychotic behavior to stock market fluctuations has been blamed on the fully illuminated moon. And while these superstitions are widely held by the general population and some professionals, scientists who have investigated the connection have come up empty handed. University of Sydney researchers have found no link to the moon’s cycle in two separate studies, and a University of Saskatchewan review of over 100 studies of lunar cycles and behavior found nothing to suggest that humans are affected by the Earth’s moon.
No doubt our ancestors used the moon for both a calendar and a night-light. A bright moon has been shown to disrupt sleep, and this can lead to more irritability. Could this be why our Village staff report getting more complaints during a full moon? Many of the more numerous complaints this time of year deal with animals: raccoons nesting and having babies in attics, neighbors feeding the raccoons, skunks acting “crazy” and possibly rabid, dead deer on private property mysteriously moving themselves into the right of way overnight, deer breaking their legs because of leaping over untrimmed tree stumps. These are but a few of the actual phone calls received at Village Hall during a recent full moon. I know for certain that the coyotes are acting up tonight in Tucson. Maybe the wildlife in Long Grove is feeling a bit “luney” tonight as well?