On September 11, Gross Park (2708 W. Lawrence Ave.) hosted its annual Party in the Park and turned a day of national mourning into a celebration of community.
There was a little something for everyone: giant inflatables (also known as “bouncies”), face painting, and balloon tying for the kiddies, and free sno-cones, popcorn, and music for the young at heart. Raffle prize winners took home iPods, bicycles, and gift certificates from local restaurants and merchants.
In acknowledgment of the events of 9/11, police and fire fighters called for a moment of silence to remember their fallen comrades. To highlight the importance of first responders, members of Engine Co. 110 (2322 W. Foster) drove their engine into the park, allowing kids to clamber in and out for a closer look.
According to Ald. Patrick O’Connor (40th), the festivities dovetailed perfectly with the National Day of Service and Remembrance.
“When I first got elected [in 1983], this park was a rough place to be,” he said. He credits local residents and volunteers for their efforts to make the park a family-friendly green space.
“This day is for this neighborhood. It’s an affirmation that this park has turned the corner,” O’Connor said.