LA GRANGE PARK – La Grange Park is turning 125 years old, and the village is hosting a number of free community events and a big family picnic to celebrate the milestone anniversary.
The public is invited to enjoy an afternoon of games, food and music July 15 at the newly renovated Memorial Park. Several other events are planned to commemorate the 125 years, including an art project, time capsule and exhibits at the La Grange Park Historical Society and La Grange Park Public Library.
The July 15 birthday celebration will begin at noon and feature six bounce houses and several games and crafts for families, as well as live music and entertainment beginning at 12:30 p.m. that will run until 11:30 p.m. At 5 p.m., everyone is invited to sing "Happy Birthday" and enjoy cake before the Jesse White Tumblers take the stage at 5:30 p.m.
Deanne Curelo, executive secretary at the village of La Grange Park and coordinator of the celebration, said the event will celebrate all the families who make La Grange Park the wonderful community it is.
“We want to give back to the community and show them how much we appreciate their support,” she said. “Our families and residents make us great, and to celebrate our 125th anniversary, we wanted to do something where residents can come and enjoy something together and relax with their friends and family.”
The anniversary celebration continues with historical presentations at the library and historical society. Raymond Wiggers will give a presentation on the geology of the area July 13 at the library, and the historical society will host a presentation by Chuck Joern, the son of prominent La Grange Park developer Charles E. Joern.
The historical society also will have an exhibit on the history of the homes in La Grange Park, and residents are being asked to submit information about the history of their houses.
The village is honoring current residents with a mosaic tile art project. Families are encouraged to buy a tile and submit a family photo that will be transposed on the tiles, which will line a wall in Village Hall. The project is expected to be completed and unveiled in November. A time capsule filled with current village artifacts like local business advertisements and journals also will be buried Sept. 15.
“This anniversary is significant. Each year our village grows stronger and stronger, and 125 years is a great number that represents all the change we’ve gone through, but also how we’ve kept our strong sense of community,” Curelo said.
The village of La Grange Park officially was incorporated July 14, 1892, and had a population of about 300 people. It began as a small farming community and has grown into a village of neighborhoods that currently has about 14,000 people.
La Grange Park was the home of the Village Market, which was developed in 1951 by Charles E. Joern. At the time, it was considered one of the biggest shopping malls in the area, and it was the first outdoor shopping center in Illinois. Joern also developed other commercial and residential areas, including the Edgewood Park subdivision and the Homestead Apartments.
Village President Jim Discipio said there is a lot to be proud of in La Grange Park, including the schools, neighborhoods and Police Department.
“Our residents take pride in their community. Our Village Board is forward-thinking and have our residents in mind and provide them with the quality of life that they expect and deserve,” he said.
La Grange Park was recognized by Forbes magazine in 2010 as one of the top 20 most sustainable housing markets in the U.S., and it was the only market in Illinois that made the list. Julia Cedillo, village manager, said La Grange Park has a long history of having a diversified housing stock, including an abundance of Victorian homes and post-World War II bungalows.
“Our homes are beautiful, and this is just a really pretty place to live,” she said. “A lot of our residents were raised here and came back to raise their children in La Grange Park. This is a community of neighbors and neighborhoods, and this anniversary is about celebrating those connections and bringing people together.”
For more information about La Grange Park's anniversary activities, visit the village's website at lagrangepark.org.