Traditions, such as the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District’s 34th annual Park Pride Day, are being set aside because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But that didn’t stop residents from coming out and helping.
The traditional first Saturday of May Park Pride Day event would have meant scout troops, church organizations and other volunteers together with their hand trowels in the dirt planting spring flowers, or rakes in hand cleaning up winter debris and tree twigs. Afterward volunteers, decked out in Park Pride T-shirts, would have come together at the Irwin Center for a hot dog lunch.
This year, the park district’s annual event that marks the start of the spring and summer seasons didn’t happen, but a social media call-out by the park district did raise the interest of 16 volunteer families who planted the flowerbeds at park sites.
“The response was incredible as we filled up in three days,” said Doug Boehm, superintendent of parks and planning, who coordinates the care of the parks. Plantings happened the week of May 4.
“We have had people reach out to assist with cleaning up parks, piling branches and pulling weeds. It has truly been a great response for our community. This is truly an amazing place we live and work in,” Boehm added.
On Wednesday, May 6, a beautiful day for gardening, Lynn and Barry Gaby of Flossmoor were at Pheasant Trail Park off of Dixie Highway near Vollmer Road.
“We did it for years and decided we’d do it this year,” Barry said.
The long-time volunteers enjoy working at the park near their house. Lynn, who was a park district employee for a number of years, said she recently found a story her son wrote when he was probably in third grade. He’s in his 30s now.
“It was about how he and his buddy would cut through the woods and pick up bottles. The ending was ‘Park Pride isn’t one day it should be all year long.’ I read it to him last night,” Lynn said when she told him of their plans for helping out again this year.
Wanda Gunter and Jacqui O’Connor were at Patriots Park planting the entrance flowerbed on Wednesday. The park is around the corner from their house. Both wore face masks to protect themselves as others came to use the park’s walking paths.
Gunter was able to take time away from her teaching responsibilities at Willow School, and O’Connor, who works in the estate sales industry, said the business “has grounded to a halt right now.”
“I love the flowers around this time of year,” Gunter said as she organized the silver leaf plants. “We just built a vegetable garden at home.”
Anne Brabec of Homewood was with her son, Mark, planting marigolds at Scandia Park in Homewood on Thursday, May 7. Being at home “the days seem to blend together,” Brabec said. Gardening on behalf of the community was a great way to get out of the house.