5:27 AMSaturday, February 6, 2016

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Monee Kids' Day An Afternoon Of Family-Friendly Fun

Monee Kids' Day organizers want it to keep getting better, put the town back in 'Governor's Cup' contention

It might have been Kids' Day in Monee, but it was a whole-community effort with volunteers of all ages from elected officials, village staff, organizations, businesses and churches pitching in to make it happen.

Despite uncooperative weather and rain-out on Saturday afternoon, the Kids' Day "show" went on July 13, drawing enthusiastic families for a summer Sunday filled with free activities, cheap eats, a parade, a dance and a movie at dusk.

Heidi Gonzalez, Monee Trustee and Village Liaison for park and recreation programs, said that the rain delay really didn't seem to dampen spirits or participation.

"By all my counts, I do believe that we had nearly as many as last year, even with our 'rain delay' and having to change the date," she said.

"There were over 100 participants in the parade, and the number seemed to grow as the afternoon got underway.

"In my opinion, we had no major problems changing the day. The village staff--Public Works Superintendent Dave Kruzel, Interim Administrator Ruben Bautista, Assistant Administrator Barbara Ray and Park Programs Coordinator Patty Dieters--did an exceptional job getting the word out about the change in days.

"We communicated with all the volunteers, with huge thanks to Pastor Kevin DeVries of Monee Free Methodist Church, and as some of the volunteers couldn't make it, we heard back from many who couldn't be there on Saturday, but lent a helping hand and served many hours on Sunday.

"Again, I am astounded at the amount of people who are genuine and willing to help when I ask of them," Gonzalez said.

"As far as organizations are concerned," she noted, "it is the church organizations that helped. All of the other volunteers were 'personal asks', those who will always help when needed. Many who had such a good time last year, wanted to help this year. Pastor Kevin and Pastor Bethany (Abbott) were the chief indians in that. And I have a list of people I can always count on, as well as friends and family of theirs who will give of themselves.

"As we continue to grow, I expect our wonderful volunteers will, as well. My goal is to become a 'Governor's Cup Finalist' in Monee in volunteerism, as we were in 2005."

Kids' Day 2014's original line-up, Gonzalez added, included a bicycle rodeo, Touch-A-Truck, a giant slip and slide, watermelon-eating contests, face painting, bouncy houses, golf putt, duck pond, crafts at the Peotone Library table, It's A Pittie educational program with visits from Potter and Lil Digger, and a petting zoo.

Interim Village Administrator Ruben Bautista said that because of the change in the date, the event lost the Petting Zoo and It's A Pittie's presentation.

But, Gonzalez noted, the day still had plenty to offer, and several of the activities "were big hits: the giant slip and slide, Monee CEF Pets with all of their animals displayed, and an overwhelming response to the face painting, as well as the Touch-a-Truck.

"The library district also mentioned that they ran out of raffle tickets, and had many responses at their table as well. Our DJ, Xavier, always a crowd favorite, gets the parents as well as the kids dancing. It is very fun to watch!"

Another big attraction was Mayor Jay Farquhar's dunk tank, which created an unexpectedly amusing incident for Gonzalez.

"The funniest moment I can think of this year is Mayor Farquhar in the dunk tank," she grinned.

"His first dunk. He was trying to get my attention as I was delivering water bottles to volunteers. He was yelling for me, 'Heidi, come here! Can you come over here please?' I only imagine so he could splash me and get me all wet! But the tables were turned, as he was looking in my direction, the first ball hit the target and he unceremoniously was dunked very much by surprise."

Village staff, along with Farquhar and Gonzalez, were slated to meet and talk about the event, problems that surfaced, and general observations that might help to make it even better next year.

For MPW Superintendent Kruzel, the biggest issue was Saturday's rain.

"But we overcame any problems that we had," he said.

"Any problems that we had, we overcame quickly. It was a good day."

Gonzalez agreed.

"I am very happy with the way it went, and the turnout! It shows us we have a village who is interested in what we are doing, they are committed to help us make it work, and will come to the events we are planning," she said.

"That lays a great groundwork for things yet to come. And believe me, it is very much appreciated.

"As (Pastor) Kevin mentioned, I would like to coordinate even more closely not only with the churches, but with other organizations, events, and our businesses to make it all work as a well-oiled machine. Concentrating our efforts on volunteerism, communication, and logistics. All of the pieces are there; we will work to make them all fit nicely.

"I just would like to reiterate how happy I am with the way everything turned out. The staff having a 'Plan B' in case of rain was huge.

"I want to continue to build on this very fun family day in Monee, making it a little bigger and a little better every year. I also would like to hear from the residents. Is this what you want? Do the residents have any ideas that we could use next year? I would love to hear from them!"

Kids' Day also featured kid-friendly "specials" at Schoop's Hamburgers, Marilyn's Restaurant, Taco Bell, 7-Eleven, Dunkin Donuts, Sicilian Joe's, First Midwest Bank, Generations and Studio 50.

Other sponsors included South Suburban Mitsubishi, Comcast, Advanced Mobility, M&J Underground, Riverside Immediate Care, Robinson Engineering, Vantage Point Engineering, Farnsworth Engineering, Village Attorney Lawrence Gryczewski, Club Z Tutoring, Kochel's Towing, Monee Liquor Depot, Lincoln Auto Parts, Don Stevenson, Stronghold Construction, Sicilian Joe's Pizza, CEF Pets Lee Van Deursen, Golf Vista, Shorewood Home & Auto, Miner Electronics, the Village of Crete, the Illinois Army National Guard and Therese Bogs, DDS.

--karenhaave@comcast.net

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