Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)— Village staff presented new ideas for 2008 Labor Day events in Park Forest to board members at Saturday’s Rules Meeting. 2007 was the 30th year for the Park Forest Scenic 10.
Village Manager Tom Mick reflected on input staff had received thus far, “The board is well aware of the direction we got from the [Scenic 10] Task Force. We’ve had a chance to look through that. Since then we’ve met with a couple of different people who could serve as race managers: John Bingham and a gentleman by the name of Tom Cooney, who is with Lakeshore Athletic Services. The thing we kept hearing from them, and even from our task force, is that we ought to not be afraid to change. We’ve got an event that really has a good track record, but we’re seeing less and less local participation. We’re seeing more and more people come from the outside. What could we do to make it more of a local race?”
“From all of our discussions, there are some logistical issues with the Scenic 10.” Mick says he expects that construction will start on phase two of Legacy Square. That means the parking lots currently used for the day will be gone, as will the Marshall Field’s building.
Mick said staff also considered the safety concerns with respect to the footing in the Sauk Trail woods, "For some reason the County has totally repaved the path on the other side of Sauk Trail,” yet ignored the more utilized circular route used for the Scenic 10. Mick said the village has received many complaints from runners through the years with respect to the condition of that path.
These concerns noted, Mick said staff started to brainstorm as to how they could transform the event and bring about more local Park Forest involvement.
“What about trying to move the race in a direction where we might be able to get more local involvement. What could we put together that would really appeal to Park Forest residents. I think what John [Joyce] is going to share with the board is a number of proposals that will tie into the cultural arts, the Ten Ton Challenge.” Mick said he sees an opportunity to offer many activities that will make the event more appealing to Park Forest residents, as opposed to Park Forest serving as a “host location for an event where 90% of the participants come from outside Park Forest.”
Director of Recreation and Parks John Joyce then presented with ideas members of the staff had discussed. He began by summarizing what were, in his opinion, the main highlights of the Scenic 10 Task Force report. The first, he said, was to continue the race. Next, he cited increasing community involvement, reducing or eliminating prize money, elimination of Village sponsorship of elite runners, and showcasing Park Forest.
"There will be a race in 2008," he said. Joyce then outlined a broad vision for a series of events that would be held on Labor Day of this year. The first event of the day would be a 5-mile race that would begin in DownTown Park Forest, run north on Orchard Dr., winding through the West Lincolnwood neighborhood, back down Orchard, and ending near the Aqua Center.
Joyce told the board about a coast-to-coast bike race where participants do a ceremonial “wheel dip,” dipping the rear wheel of the bike in the Pacific Ocean, then bike across the country, and dip their rear wheel in the Atlantic Ocean. At the end of the race, runners would be able to symbolically “dip” their shoes in a pool at the Aqua Center, and possibly swim a few competitive laps.
In addition, staff is considering a plan to permit residents to bring their dogs to the pool on that day, formally closing the Aqua Center the day before.
Joyce said retired Scenic 10 race director Bud James consulted with his staff in developing the new race course. He said James will be at the race, “He is really excited about this.”
James will assist making certain the course will is certified, helping with split-timers, water stops, and other logistics for the race.
Director Joyce continued presentation to the board, indicating that there would be a band set up on Field “B” playing toward the pool, similar to the way bands play on an adjacent field for the 4th of July celebrations.
Staff is also considering a family bike ride along the same course after the foot race, and a 2-mile walk around the Wetlands in Central Park.
Park Forest Scenic Triathlon?
Joyce said staff is considering billing the event as a “Build Your Own Triathlon,” where participants could choose three events from the many that would be offered throughout the day. Anyone finishing individual events would receive a medal, and those who finish three events would receive something extra.
Mayor John Ostenburg added one cautionary note, advising staff to not try to do too much new or different the first year, but all board members were very supportive of the new ideas.
"You want it to be successful. Anytime you’re making a transition from one thing to another, it’s very important that that first year be successful. Otherwise, you’re taking two steps back.”
“You also have to discuss how you’re going to move from having the ‘Scenic 10’, to no longer having the ‘10’ component.”
Village officials stressed that many of these ideas may change completely, but agreed the word “Scenic” should be retained.
The author is a Trustee in the Village of Park Forest.