Food, music, and fun bring neighbors together
by Ernst Lamothe Jr.
LANSING, Ill. (June 28, 2018) – Holding her 16-month-old daughter, Lanna, and dancing to the live music, Loren Willard was soaking up the entire event. Between all the activites and options around her, she couldn’t believe her choices as a first-time attendee of the Thornton Township Days in the Park in Lansing’s Lan-Oak Park, 180th and Arcadia.
“I really do absolutely love everything about this event,” said Willard, of Lansing, who attended with her mother, Pat, and her nephew, Cameron, age 4. “There was something for everyone, whether you were a kid, an adult, a senior, or disabled. It was just a great time for all of us to enjoy each other’s company and realize that we have so many things in common that we should all get along much better.”
Thornton Township hosts a different picnic at least once a week in all 17 municipalities throughout the summer. Days in the Park was the brainchild of Thornton Township Supervisor Frank M. Zuccarelli, who saw an opportunity that was needed.
“We started this event more than a decade ago because we saw a need to bring people together. Our lives can be so busy that we don’t take a moment to just sit down and talk to our neighbors as much as we used to. We believe by bringing people into their neighborhood park to sit, talk, and eat, it would begin to bring back that greater sense of community,” said Zuccarelli.
The event features free food, live music, and family-friendly activities. “Days in the Park allows residents to come together as a community and enjoy each other’s company. It is also an opportunity to just celebrate some of the beautiful parks that we have within Thornton Township,” said India Riley, who helps coordinate the event.
Sharon Gonzalez, of Lansing, brought her sister Michelle Arteaga, of Chicago, and Arteaga was incredibly impressed. “We don’t do these kinds of neighborhood things in Chicago,” said Arteaga. “This is such a great event. I’m jealous!”
“People get excited when we bring the event to their specific community. It’s just a wonderful opportunity to fellowship, get to know people you didn’t know before, get together with friends, or just reacquaint with someone that you haven’t seen in some time,” said Larry Lawrence, who coordinates and hosts every Days in the Park event.
Thornton Township Days in the Park continues through mid-August.