River Forest families come together for Clear Sky Festival
River Forest Park District workers Juan Gonzalez (right) and Brett Koball (center) grill hotdogs during the Clear Sky Festival at Keystone Park in River Forest. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:20AM
RIVER FOREST —
The 13th annual Clear Sky Festival in River Forest brought students and families together for a night of fun Thursday.
“The event is a great way for kids to meet school officials, park district officials, local law enforcement, youth services and new friends,” River Forest Park District Recreation Services Manager Karen Scherrer said.
The event included DJ entertainment, pizza and hotdogs, airbrush tattoos, laser tag, rock climbing, inflatable obstacle courses and a dodgeball tournament.
“We like to keep the event simple and offer what the kids like to do,” Scherrer said.
“My favorite part is the food,” third grade student Christian Alexander said.
Sixth graders Peter Clarkson and Shea Gorman agreed that laser tag and dodgeball were the best parts of the night.
“I can’t wait to come back next year and play laser tag again,” Gorman said.
Clear Sky Festival is a back-to-school party sponsored by the River Forest Park District, River Forest Police Department, Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest and ComEd.
“This is a great event for us to sponsor,” Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest spokeswoman Anna Schimmel said. “I live and work in this community, so it’s wonderful to see the kids come and enjoy themselves.”
Bert Patania, Oak Park Township youth interventionist team supervisor, has been a part of the event since the beginning.
“We didn’t anticipate the event to last 13 years, but we couldn’t be happier that it has,” Patania said. “It’s always been about having a safe place to recognize the families.”
River Forest Police Sgt. Michael Thornley said the department has remained involved in the Clear Sky Festival since the start.
“Throughout the years, we’ve noticed an increase in teenagers coming to the event, which is great,” Thornley said. “It’s meant to celebrate the end of the summer and bring the community together.”
The River Forest Citizen Corps was on hand to help with security. Five Citizen Corps volunteers stood around the perimeter of Keystone Park.
“We are here to have an adult presence at the event,” Chairman Ron Sherman said. “This is great practice for us.”