Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Santa Claus Braves Sub-Zero Temps to Visit Garfield Ridge Boys and Girls

Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch Effort More Popular Each Year

By Joan Hadac
Editor & Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

The temperature was below zero Sunday night, but the
Santa Claus at dusk, at the start of his run.
streets and sidewalks of central and west Garfield Ridge were warm with Christmas excitement.

As he did last year, Santa Claus rode atop a vintage fire truck up and down streets--Central to Harlem, 51st to 59th—bringing holiday cheer to thousands of people, many of whom spilled out of their homes to greet the Man in Red.

“I can’t believe I just took my kids out after dark, and it’s what—five below zero—just so they could stand on the sidewalk and wave at Santa,” said Garfield Ridge resident Donna Scalise. “But I know they’re going to be talking about this at school tomorrow and calling their cousins in Oak Lawn to let them know what they saw.”

Santa’s cruise was once again the brainchild of the Garfield
Ridge Neighborhood Watch, one of the Chicago area’s most active and effective civilian-led crime fighting organizations.

“This whole night was long because of the cold weather, but it was awesome,” said GRNW President Al Cacciottolo, who rode on the truck along with Frosty the Snowman and several “elves” who also are key members of the GRNW.

“It was nice enough to see little kids, boys and girls, waving from their front windows with their moms and dads,” he added. “But then to see so many people come outside in this weather, with the little kids jumping up and down, just to thank us and give us cookies, candy and cocoa—I mean really, we were just blown away with the kindness of some people.”

A few tykes even brought sealed envelopes to the fire truck—last-minute gift requests to be considered by the Jolly Old Elf.

To keep ensure that parents and children did not miss the visit. GRNW board member Janja Taylor posted a detailed route map on the GRNW Facebook page, as well as "from the truck" updates on exactly where Santa was at various times.

Cacciottolo said the crew on the truck was “just happy to help bring a little cheer to the community. If we came down your block and made you smile—maybe you were having a bad day, but now you’re not—then it was all worth it for us.”

By popular demand, Santa Claus and crew rode up and down the streets of central and west Clearing (west of Central Avenue) the following night; and they are scheduled to roll Tuesday night in parts of West Elsdon and other neighborhoods east of Midway Airport. (Details coming Tuesday morning.)

While some might wonder what a visit from Santa Claus has to do with preventing crime, Cacciottolo said he sees a connection that is clear, if indirect.

“It’s all about building stronger neighborhoods,” he said. “This ‘Santa on a fire truck’ thing we do is a lot of fun, and it kind of underscores what a special place Garfield Ridge is for children and their parents—just as it always has been. Really, what other neighborhood or suburb can you think of that does this?

“But here’s the larger thing,” Cacciottolo concluded. “It gets people out of their houses at the same time, in the spirit of fun. So you may have neighbors meeting each other for the first time—then they make connections and build friendships that make their block a stronger and better place. And it’s kind of an affirmation of the neighborhood, making people—newcomers and old-timers alike—feel good about being here. It’s a kind of “I like Garfield Ridge. I belong here.”

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Friday, December 16, 2016

Father William Sheridan, SW Side Native Who Grew Up in St. Nick's, Dies at 90

The Rev. William Harold Sheridan, a Southwest Side native, passed away on Friday,
The Rev. William Harold Sheridan
December 9, Archdiocesan officials have announced. 
He was 90 years old. For most of his priestly career, Father Sheridan was on the faculty of Quigley Preparatory Seminary North.

Father Sheridan was born in Chicago on November 9, 1926. He attended St. Nicholas of Tolentine School and Mount Carmel High School.

He went on to study at Quigley Preparatory Seminary North. He graduated from the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary with a bachelor's degree in philosophy and a master's degree in theology.

Father Sheridan completed his post-graduate studies at Notre Dame University in Indiana, receiving a master's degree in classics.

He was ordained into the priesthood on May 5, 1954, by Samuel Cardinal Stritch. He celebrated his first Solemn Mass at St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish on May 9, 1954.

Father Sheridan served in the Archdiocese in a number of different parochial roles. He served as assistant pastor of St. Bonaventure Parish on Diversey Parkway, closed in 2008 (1954-57).

He began teaching at Quigley Preparatory Seminary North in 1957, while residing at St. Philip Neri Parish, and served as a professor, spiritual director and athletic director. He continued to teach until his retirement in 1995. Father Sheridan also remained a resident of St. Philip Neri Parish, serving the parish community until his death.

In a 2011 interview with the Catholic New World, he reflected on the importance of his vocation, “I can say without a doubt, the greatest blessing of my life has been the gift of priesthood.”

The Rev. John Finnegan, a retired Archdiocesan priest, was a classmate of Father Sheridan. He said, “He was a dear, dear friend. We had known each other since our third year of high school in 1945. Later, we went to Notre Dame together because we were both Latin teachers at Quigley...Bill was always a builder...he built communities and he was the glue that held people together. We always had fun times together.”

Monsignor Dan Mayall, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Wilmette, taught at Quigley with Father Sheridan. He said, “In more than one way, he taught hundreds of us how to be a priest... he taught me when I was a sophomore, and later we taught together at Quigley. He was also the athletic director, and although I was never officially part of the department, he always included me! We were very good friends.”

Services were Saturday, Dec. 17 from St. Philip Neri Parish, 2132 E. 72nd St. Cardinal Blase J. Cupich was scheduled to be the main celebrant. Interment was at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Alsip.

Fr. Sheridan is survived by his nieces and nephews.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

West Elsdon Civic Association Has New Life, New Hope, New Leadership for 2017

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

A year after its aging, dwindling membership voted to
dissolve, the West Elsdon Civic Association is back from the brink of extinction and moving forward into 2017 with new, young leadership.

At a meeting once described as “make it or break it” by longtime WECA President James C. Mazenis, several younger, newer members of the group ended months of mystery and stepped up to fill key positions in the group.

“I think we’re seeing a civic association with a new direction, a new fire, a new ambition to grow our group,” said Eric M. Vigueras, a West Elsdon homeowner and a new WECA member.

He accepted the president’s gavel from Mazenis at WECA’s quarterly meeting, held earlier this month at Divine Word Polish National Catholic Church, 3842 W. 57th St. About a dozen West Elsdon residents attended.

Also stepping into leadership roles for the first time were James Ramos, first vice president; Michele Martinez, treasurer and financial secretary; and Bernadette Byrnes, who will serve as second vice president and in several other communications and outreach capacities.

A formal announcement about exactly who is doing what may occur at WECA’s next meeting, set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 7 at the church. Installation of officers is anticipated at the meeting. All West Elsdon residents and business owners are encouraged to attend.

West Elsdon is the neighborhood immediately east of Midway Airport, stretching from Cicero to Central Park Avenue, roughly between 52nd and 59th Streets. It draws its name from the once-mighty Elsdon rail yard near Central Park Avenue.

Vigueras said his first priority as president will be building the group’s membership roster, which has shrunk greatly since the group’s heyday decades ago, when its monthly meetings were typically attended by 50-60 active members at the old Fraternal Order of Eagles hall near 55th and Hamlin.

He acknowledged the task will be a bit of a challenge and said that members should start the effort by redoubling their own efforts to be faithful WECA members.

“Ideally, we want every member to talk about this group and bring a neighbor to the next meeting and the meeting after that,” he said. “But if you’re not able to bring a neighbor, at least be sure and bring yourself.”

Vigueras also said he will ensure that the group’s newsletter, currently available only in paper format and via U.S. Mail to members, will be revamped and made available electronically, as well—either via email, by posting on a website or both.

Additionally, he vowed to use modern communications methods to keep WECA members updated on the group’s activities. “We will use email, text messages and phone calls,” he said. “People will have the in formation they need in a timely and convenient manner.”

A public rallying cry to save the group--made by the Southwest News-Herald and others—helped motivate a handful of younger residents to step forward and consider taking the reins. The group was spurred to action by the Archer Heights Civic Association, which helped organize and encourage the newcomers.

Representing the neighborhood immediately north of West Elsdon, the AHCA is one of Chicago’s oldest and most effective neighborhood advocacy organizations.

Attending the WECA meeting as an observer was Archer Heights Civic Association President Thomas S. Baliga, who played a key role in the last year in finding, convening and encouraging the new leaders.

After the meeting, he praised Vigueras for stepping forward and expressed optimism that WECA will survive and grow in 2017.

“In Eric, the West Elsdon Civic Association has a new, energetic and forward thinking leader that hopefully will inspire and motivate younger West Elsdon residents to join their community group," Baliga said after the meeting. "And with Jim Mazenis remaining involved as chairman of their board of directors, they will have continuity to their past and a good person to provide sage advice on historical challenges, setbacks and triumphs.”

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch Lights Community Christmas Tree

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

Thanks to everyone at the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch, as well as the Chicago Park District, the Garfield Ridge Civic League and other co-sponsors, for pulling together a Christmas tree-lighting event at Wentworth Park on Saturday, December 3.

Folks certainly enjoyed taking photos of the little ones by the Christmas tree.

Plus visits with Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman, and family after family lacing up skates and enjoying Wentworth Park's ice skating rink. A musical touch was added by the youth choir from Gloria Dei Lutheran School.

A tip of our cap, as well, to the hard-working volunteers at GRREAT (Garfield Ridge Retail, Entertainment and Amusement Team) for getting this annual event founded several years ago and running smoothly.

Police were on hand, as usual, and got the biggest round of applause of the evening, by far--no surprise in Garfield Ridge.

But why, you might ask, is a crime-prevention group running a Christmas celebration? What does that have to do with fighting crime?

Plenty, is the answer, at least indirectly. The more that the good people of Garfield Ridge get off their keyboards, out of the house, onto the streets and into our local parks, the more likely they will crowd out the bad guys and--just by their presence--make our parks safer and better. GRNW knows that, which is why they are into community improvement activities, as well as patrolling our streets and alleys.

Here are a few photos we shot, in no particular order.

Lots of Christmas-season family fun in one of Chicago's very best neighborhoods!

Well done, GRNW!

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Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce Hosts Snack With Santa and Mrs. Claus

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

Thanks once again to everyone at the Garfield Ridge
Chamber of Commerce for bringing some Christmas cheer to Archer Avenue.

The Chamber's annual Snack with Santa and Mrs. Claus
event, held at Mayfield Banquets on Saturday, December 3, was its usual smashing success--with boys and girls stopping by to whisper a few wishes to the Jolly Old Elf, receive a free toy from Santa's helpers, eat a few goodies and enjoy live musical entertainment and a puppet show.

Among those rolling up their sleeves to make the event a reality were current Chamber President James Kash, 2017 President Mary Ellen Brown, and other officers and members.

Past President Mary Ann Dybala, the driving force behind the cheerful event since it was founded more than 30 years ago, also was on hand to serve goodies and greet moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas. She noted that about 800 children were expected to attend the popular celebration. Easy to understand, since the line wound through the Mayfield and even went out the door into the parking lot for at least the first hour.

Among other things, the annual event was a reminder that
Garfield Ridge is home to many public-spirited business owners who care about the well-being of the neighborhood.

Let's return the favor by shopping at Chamber members' stores and other businesses, using their professional services, and so forth. Visit http://garfieldridgecc.com/directory for a list of Chamber members.

Shop local, shop smart!

Here are a few photos we took with local children and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Enjoy!

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