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The circus is NOT in town

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Last year’s controversy in Palos Hills no bearing on absence in 2014

The Carson & Barnes Circus won’t roll into Page-1-2-col-circusThe circus that has made a stop in Palos Hills for three straight years is not back in town this year but it wasn’t because of last year’s controversy. Photo by Jeff Vorva.Palos Hills this year, but a controversy involving last year’s show had no bearing on that decision.

City and circus officials said that a dispute that arose last year over a special segment designed to benefit the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault has not adversely affected the city’s relationship with the circus.
Rather, the circus is touring Ohio this month and had not planned to make a stop in Palos Hills or other southwest suburbs.
“I don’t think they’re anywhere in this area,” said MaryJo Vincent, Palos Hills’ resource and recreation department commissioner.
The traveling circus typically contacts the city in December if it plans to make a stop the following summer, Vincent said.
“They did not contact us this year,” said Vincent, who added that the circus would have been welcome for a 2014 show.
Vincent said city officials were caught off guard last year by Carson & Barnes’ plans to conduct a segment designed to call attention to sexual assault victims.
She said the city would carefully review future contracts with the circus to avoid similar surprises.
“We’ve had success with the partnership,” said Arlinda Copeland, manager of quality assurance for Carson & Barnes.
Copeland added that new protocol calls for the circus to get approval from the sponsor regarding any advocacy group that it promotes.
Last year the circus planned on a special segment with a candlelight vigil and information about sexual assault victims and other victims under the title “Survivors Under the Stars’’ to benefit the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Jacque Hollinder, who said she is a victim of sexual assault and filed a lawsuit that she was attacked by singer James Brown, organized the segment, which was part of various stops along the circus’s tour in 2013.
T-shirts were to be sold to benefit the victims.
“It blew up bigger than it should have,” Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett said. “We didn’t find out until after you guys did a story in your paper.”
But the circus was a success, Bennett recalled, and is welcome in Palos Hills in the future, he said.
The 78-year-old circus visited Palos Hills in 2007, 2009 and 2011 through 2013.
Last year, the circus performed four shows over two days.
City officials were not aware that the segment was a part of the entertainment until reading stories and seeing ads in the Reporter and Regional News and wanted that taken out, deeming it inappropriate for a family circus. 

After the city negotiated with the circus, the vigil and victims portion of the show was taken out, but Hollinder’s song “I Am the Circus” was allowed to be sung by trapeze artist Franchesca Cavallini.
Children and parents were allowed to parade in the ring and outside the ring while the song was performed but there was no mention of ICASA or victims.
“It’s sad we weren’t able to do the full presentation,” Hollinder said last year. “But I’ll do what I’m told.’’

“Sexual assault, domestic violence, kidnapping and murder [has] now reached an epidemic level and we here at Carson and Barnes Circus want to be [a part] of shedding light on this matter,” circus officials wrote in a news release last year.

That was one problem solved, but the city also received letters from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals urging city officials to either cancel the circus or to not allow it to return in 2014, citing cruelty to the elephants in previous stops.
Bennett said at the time that he had no recollection of the circus abusing its animals and in the years the circus has come to Palos Hills there have been no reports of animal abuse.
Despite the incident-free shows performed by Carson & Barnes, reports surfaced that city officials favored pulling the plug on Carson & Barnes in 2014.

Weish you were here

  • Written by Declan Harty

Weishar family hosts second big bash to help cancer victims’ families

Andrew Weishar’s name will live on.guysDan and Nic Weishar are getting the word out about WeishFest II at Standard Bank Park Saturday, which raises money in the name of the late Andrew Weishar (inset photo) for cancer victims’ families. Photo by Jeff Vorva.

Even though he would not like the attention, he would love the result.
Weishar, who was known for his quiet manner and humility, will be honored Saturday at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood at the second WeishFest – pronounced Wish-fest. The 21-year-old Midlothian native passed away in October 2012 after a four-year battle with colorectal cancer, but left behind a legacy that has stricken communities across the state.
Family members said that in his final days, Weishar only thought of others. His request to have his family “pay forward” the support that it received during his battle was fulfilled in last year’s inaugural WeishFest, and will live on again this Saturday.
WeishFest, which kicks off at 2 p.m., is an all-day music festival featuring five different artists. Local and upcoming artists such as Sean & Charlie, Chris Medina, C2 and the Brothers Reed and Infinity will all lead up to the headliner, Rodney Atkins, who will go on at 9 p.m. Tickets for the event can be purchased at WeishFest.com, and Standard Bank seating tickets cost $25, and field access cost $35, with varying levels of VIP tickets available as well.
After raising $125,000 from the 2,500 people in attendance last year, Dan Weishar, president and executive director of the Andrew Weishar Foundation (AWF) and Andrew’s younger brother has managed to spearhead the event this year.
Dan Weishar said that the organization is prepared to make WeishFest huge, whether that includes keeping the event at Standard Bank Stadium for a few more years and then growing it or ending up at Wrigley Field in 10 years, he said they have an open mind. Weishar said they “just have got to have a great WeishFest 2014, thinking about this year.”
Dan, a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said that it is because of the support his family received before and after Andrew passed that made him want to return the favor through both the AWF and WeishFest.
“The communities around us could not have been a bigger support for us,” he said. “There are a lot of people in his (Andrew’s) situation who need help, like the help that we got, and he wanted to make sure that we pay forward that generosity. That is really what sparked the Andrew Weishar Foundation.”

Wide-ranging
impact

A St. Damien Lancer, Brother Rice Crusader and Illinois Wesleyan Titan, Andrew affected communities from central Illinois to Chicago, but it was through social media that Andrew’s story spread. After #Weish4Ever went viral, thousands of people were impacted by the 21-year-old and his relentless mindset towards his battle with cancer.
After a semester of playing football at Illinois Wesleyan, a consistent powerhouse in NCAA Division III football, Weishar’s college career was looking bright. But during the spring semester of his freshman year, he began to lose weight dramatically, and was later diagnosed with colorectal cancer at the age of 19.
Immediately beginning treatment and having to drop out of school, Andrew was facing a battle that was uncommon for a 19-year-old.
After months of intensive chemotherapy, Andrew went into surgery in Minnesota and would later go into remission. But after spending months visiting friends at Illinois Wesleyan and even going abroad with fellow titan, Ted Delicath, who now serves on the AWF board, Andrew was re-diagnosed.
After an emotional and trying four years of battling cancer, Andrew passed away October 12, 2012, a matter of hours before some of Andrew’s best friends would take the field against Carthage in Bloomington. The game resulted in a win for the Titans, and spurred on the spreading of Andrew’s story.
“There was a group of guys that were so close to him that their love for him kind of permeated out,” Delicath said. “So other people began to understand the story, and see the love in our eyes. I think that is very telling of the kind of person Andrew was… It was very evident that the community bought into the type of values that he stood for.”
But the Illinois Wesleyan and Bloomington communities weren’t the only ones who found Andrew’s story inspirational.
After attending both St. Damien and Brother Rice, Andrew and the Weishar family have the support of South Siders. Both Dan and Andrew have maintained a South Side mindset, along with their youngest brother, Nic, who will play tight end at Notre Dame next year after a successful high school career at Marist.

True South Siders
According to Delicath, the Weishar family embodies everything a South Sider is.
“Andrew is a quiet, quiet guy with just a ferocious spirit and a lot of courage,” the Peoria native said. “What you will find out about a lot of people on the South Side is that they are a little bit more talkative than Andrew, but also that they are very tough, dedicated and driven people, and Andrew embodied all of that.”
Being from the South Side, Dan Weishar said it was only right to make sure the event is in the heart of Andrew’s largest support and close to home -- Crestwood’s Standard Bank Stadium, the home of the Windy City Thunderbolts.
“The fact is that this stadium is in the heart of our support. It is in the middle of where we grew up, and it is in the middle of all the high schools around us,” Dan said. “It is really the heart and soul of the Andrew Weishar Foundation in that we have everybody around us.”
The stadium also allows for Andrew’s spirit to continue spreading through the crowd. The stadium, which holds approximately 3,200 people, will allow for the crowd to get an atmosphere that is unlike any other concert.
“You get there and there is an intimate feeling in the setting,” Delicath said. “I think you could only get that to happen on the south side and that can only happen when you have a memory of someone who lived very much like that. Someone that was bigger than life, and then when you met them, they made you feel like you were the only person in the world.”

Fun at the fest
WeishFest is designed, according to Dan, to allow the crowd to come and go as they please after paying an initial rate, and to simply enjoy the day, all while honoring Andrew and raising money for families affected by cancer.
The funds from WeishFest are 100 percent given back to families in need. With the assistance of a social worker and a partnership with Hope Children’s Hospital, the AWF has already helped over 15 families that have been financially stricken with the burden of cancer. But according to Dan, the difference between the AWF and other organizations is that these families receive immediate financial assistance, all in the name of Andrew.
“There is nothing like telling people, we are giving you this money because of Andrew Weishar. It is the most gratifying thing in the world, and I am pretty excited about continuing to do that,” Dan said. “There is no question that Andrew Weishar is in the spirit of the foundation that Andrew Weishar is in the spirit of WeishFest.”
For Dan, this year’s WeishFest may be the beginning of WeishFest and the Andrew Weishar Foundation’s hopeful and expected growth.
“This year is pretty big in terms of how quickly we are expanding. The actual investment of WeishFest is massive, it is a huge, huge event, but we think that as long as we sell tickets and as long as we get people here that day, it is going to pay off,” he said. “I started the Andrew Weishar Foundation with really one intention and that intention was to honor Andrew, and his legacy, and that is what we did in starting it, and it really has taken off from there. Obviously as we grow we are going to hopefully be able to grow the amount of families we can help each year. There really is no limit.”

WHATIZIT? 7-31-14

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Let us warn you ahead of time, we experiencedWHATIZIT-1-31 a hiccup (and a couple of belches) with our internet and we can’t be 100 percent sure that we have all of your guesses from last week. We think we were close, though.

  The correct answer was that it was a big ol’ propane tank painted as a hot dog.
  Extra credit (getting your name in capital letters) went to those who knew this thing was in Chicago Ridge.
  The first correct guessers were LINDA and RUSS MARTIN of Worth.
  We also had a correct guess from Angie Kostecki from Houston, Texas, who was visiting folks in Evergreen Park.
  Those who escaped the computer glitches were Worth’s E.J. OAKUEKE, TAMMY MORAN, FRANK AND DONNA HIRSCH, THERESA and GEORGE REBERSKY and CELESTE CAMERON, Chicago Ridge’s RICK TOWNER, DAN and KATHY HIGGINS, DANA OSWALD and JOE and MARILYN BLACKWELL, Oak Lawn’s JANE FOLEY, Hickory Hills’ ROBERT BEEGLE, the FRIDAY NIGHT POKER CLUB IN OAK LAWN, ORLAND PARK and OAK PARK and JIM CAP from parts unknown.
  Worth’s ROBERT SOLNER guessed correctly and also correctly guessed pork chop from two weeks ago as well but it wasn’t officially recorded in the books.
  Evergreen Park’s Jan Merchantz guessed the tank but did not provide the location, so she is just a regular winner. Hickory Hills’ Jack and Griffin Faddis also guessed the propane tank but said it was in Snug Harbor Bay, Wis. We don’t know if Snug Harbor is lucky enough to have one of these, but this photo was taken in the Ridge.
  An incorrect guess was of the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile. Christeen Towner also guessed the Weinermobile but said it was in Chicago Ridge.
  For those who guessed and did not make the paper, let us know and we’ll have a fun time next week.
  This week’s clue is that this thing can kills you two different ways.
  Send those guesses to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Monday night. Put WHATIZIT in the subject line and don’t forget your name and hometown.

Photo by Jeff Vorva.

Jeff Vorva's ImPRESSions: Say hello to my little gift

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

 Jeffs Col ImpressionsI don’t believe in Christmas in July,Page-1-1-col-refer-Page-3-with-jv-colscarface gnome but it’s the final day of the month, and I found the perfect oddball gift if you want to get some early, early, early holiday shopping done.

This treasure comes from the Patriot Depot website, which offers “supplies for the conservative revolution.”
Now, I’m not a political guy, and I probably wouldn’t hang with people who wear shirts that say “Don’t Tread on Me”.
But I do know what makes me laugh.
Patriotdepot.com offers a .50 caliber bullet pen for $17.95, which just might be a little too overpriced for my taste. I like my pens free.
It also offers a spiffy BBQ gun lighter – M-16 edition – for $13.95. That’s not a bad price.
But the must-have gift would have to be a “Say hello to my little friend” garden gnome for $18.95.
The Patriot propaganda on this 9.5-inch bad boy says: “This gnome means business.  Anyone who enters your backyard will be greeted by Scarface the gnome, holding a gun and featuring the famous Al Pacino quote: ‘Say hello to my little friend.’ Guaranteed 100 percent effective against Zombie Gnomes.’’
Anyway, the thing looks funny and what tough-guy gardener wouldn’t be proud to have this gnome protecting the pansies or veggies?

Giving a Hoot

The Miss Hooters International award for 2014 went to Florida’s Janet Layug,a fitness model who won Page-1-2-col-pic-hooters-girl-copyHooters waitress and calendar girl Kelly Bronson participated in the Miss Hooters International Competition in Las Vegas. Photo by Michele Vasquez.Miss FLEX Bikini honors a year ago. She is a professional model and has entered this contest for the past couple of years so you might say she had a Layug up on the competition.
One of the other competitors in the event, which took place last Wednesday in Las Vagas, was Evergreen Park native Kelly Bronson, who works at the Hooters in Oak Lawn.
We ran a story on Bronson in our July 17 edition and she is not a model. She is a waitress with a son and the deck seemed stacked against her. But in her Facebook entry, she was gracious.
“Thank you to everyone who pushed for me during this whole journey of mine,” she wrote. “Evben though I didn’t place…this isn’t the end. Now I’m going to feast and enjoy eating greasy burgers and pizza…’’
And she finished it off with 16 exclamation points.

Don’t try this on the air

So with radio legend Dick Biondi coming to Crestwood for the Battle in the Burbs event a few Sundays ago, I thought I would take a look at his loooong career.
According to Wikipedia (so you know it has to be true), Biondi was working for a station in Buffalo, New York, WKBW in 1958.
He got a little ticked at his boss and joked on the air that fans should throw rocks at the boss’s car. Biondi described the boss’s car on the air and told his faithful listeners where the guy would be driving.
Well, someone did fire rocks at the car and the next day, Biondi was fired.

Eating like a dog

My favorite press release this month comes from Milo’s Kitchen:
It sayeth: “Building on the massively popular Chicago food truck trend, Milo’s Kitchen brand dog treats is launching Chicago’s first mobile food experience for dogs and their pet parents.
“With planned stops at the Windy City Pet Expo -- plus additional visits to 15 major metropolitan areas across the U.S. [http://mktreattruck.com] -- the Milo’s Kitchen Treat Truck will offer all of Chicago’s gour-mutts the chance to:

* Taste real chicken and beef home-style dog treats like Chicken Meatballs and Grilled Burger Bites -- all proudly made in the USA with 100 percent domestically-sourced meat and no artificial colors or flavors.
* Take a free family photo or “doggie selfie” (does this collar make me look cute?) in a professional canine-ready photo booth.
* Socialize with other four-legged friends in the backyard-style lapdog lounge
* Take a relaxing ‘walk break’ with dog beds, drinking bowls and puppy toys
* Bring home a doggie bag of tasty treats for lucky labs and hungry hounds
“The Milo’s Kitchen Treat Truck is free to the public.’’
Gour-mutts? Now that’s funny.

 

Quinn aims for working man image during Oak Lawn visit

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Gov. Pat Quinn was flanked by several men wearing hard hats and bright yellow vests last week during a groundbreaking ceremony at an Oak Lawn water pumping station.
The backdrop wasn’t by accident. Quinn wants to cast himself as the working man’s governor while distinguishing himself from his Republican opponent, millionaire Bruce Rauner, who often is described as a billionaire.
In fact, tax returns Rauner released last year showed that he earned about $108 million from 2010 and 2012, according to Sun-Times Media. Quinn, meanwhile, reported $162,000 on his 2013 tax returns.
Still, the Quinn camp’s strategy is clear: portray Rauner as rich and out of touch with the working man as well as the need for good paying jobs.
“We understand how important it is for work, for labor,” Quinn said during his remarks last Wednesday at the Harker Pumping Station, 5300 W. 105th St., where he signed legislation expanding the state’s Clean Water Initiative.
“Today, we have all these workers right here. Men and women who know how to get the job done on time, on budget or even under budget on an important water project. This is labor intensive. It puts people to work on jobs you can support a family on.”
Quinn went on to thank the unions represented at the ceremony and all the men and women of labor. “You’re the ones who get the job done,” he said.
He added that significant project such as the one in Oak Lawn also provide meaningful work for veterans who recently have returned from active duty.
Quinn did not want to pass up a chance to make a stop in the southwest suburbs—an area targeted by Rauner, who recently opened a campaign office in Oak Lawn.
In addition to signing the legislation, Quinn joined Oak Lawn officials and other dignitaries in a ceremonial grounding breaking for the expansion of the Harker Pumping Station, which will undergo a $171 million, five-year project designed to improve the water distribution system.
The system provides Lake Michigan water to about 325,000 Southland residents in the village and 12 other suburbs. When completed, the project will increase Oak Lawn’s water supply capacity from 55 million gallons a day to 111 million gallons, village officials said.
The 12 towns served by Oak Lawn are: Chicago Ridge, Palos Hills, Palos Park, Tinley Park, Oak Forest, Orland Park, Orland Hills, Country Club Hills, Matteson, Olympia Field, Mokena and New Lenox.
The project will include installation of a permanent diesel-powered generator at the Harker station, construction of a switching station designed to control the amount of power needed to pump water and the replacement of one pump.
Meanwhile, the Reich pumping station also will undergo modernization and will have pumps designated to distribute water to the system’s customers rather than just Oak Lawn residents.
More than half of the project cost is dedicated to the installation of larger water mains and a looped system that will serve as a backup if a primary line breaks.
State Sen. Dan Katowski, of Park Ridge, who sponsored the Clean Water Initiative legislation, championed Quinn as a friend of labor.
“This bill alone is going to lead to the creation of 28,000 local jobs,” Katowski said. “That’s the type of partnership has Governor Quinn has always been committed to by working together with local government.”
The Clean Water Initiative is designed to deter flooding and protect Illinois’ drinking water by helping municipalities repair or replace infrastructure.
“We’ve committed $2 billion to invest with communities like Oak Lawn,” Quinn said. “It’s all about clean water. We’ve got to make sure that we protect our water. We have to understand. We have to take good care of water.’’