Several parks in Clearing and Garfield Ridge have been
given a splash of color by one of Chicago's oldest and most respected businesses, free of charge.
“We saw the need and were pleased to do what we can to help the neighborhood,” said Jerry Soukal Jr., whose great-grandfather, Frank Soukal Sr., founded Soukal Floral (6118 S. Archer) a century ago, when Garfield Ridge—newly annexed to Chicago—was still mostly prairies, ponds and small farms.
“I was one of a number of people who recently attended a local Park District meeting designed to brainstorm and come up with suggestions on how to improve our parks,” Cacciottolo said. “I said that our parks around here are generally OK, but they look kind of plain. They could use a little color, a little cheerfulness, especially at the entrances.”
When told there were no more Park District funds to purchase and plant flowers, Cacciottolo decided to reach out to Soukal “because this is a family-owned and –operated business with deep roots in the community and a long history of service—of working with our local churches, schools and other organizations.”
To date, Soukal has added a bit of beauty to Hale Park, 6258
W. 62nd St.; Valley Forge Park, 7001 W. 59th St.; and Stars and Stripes Park, 5100 S. Nordica. Plans are in the works to add flowers to Normandy Park, 6660 W. 52nd St., and Wentworth Park, 5625 S. Mobile.
“I wasn’t surprised when Jerry said yes, because that’s what the Soukal family is all about—they have a long history of giving,” Cacciottolo added. “There’s no signage here indicating that Soukal Floral donated and planted these beautiful flowers, but I think it’s important for people in the community to be aware. My hope is this will inspire others—businesses, clubs and even individuals—to step up and make our parks and other public places nicer for everyone.”
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