Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Popular Entertainment Acts to Take the Stage at St. Joseph Carnival, June 1-4th

Old favorites and hot new entertainment acts can be
found on the main stage lineup for this year's carnival at St.
Joseph Parish, just 1/2 block west of 56th and Harlem.

Taking the stage from 7 to 11 p.m. Thursday, June 1 will be Kashmir, one of the nation's top Led
Zeppelin tribute bands.

Strung Out, which bills itself as “Chicago’s Ultimate 70’s musical experience playing an incredible treasure trove of classic 70’s music that other bands overlook,” is first up on Fri-
day, June 2, playing from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Closing out Friday’s live entertainment from 9 p.m. to
midnight will be Maggie Speaks, arguably the most successful cover band ever to come out of Chicago.

On Saturday, June 3 a succession of some of the Chicago area’s best disc jockeys will spin a variety of Top 40 favorites to hot house mixes from 3 p.m. to midnight.

Sunday promises a bit of something for everyone.

The Ampol Aires polka band will play from 2 to 4 p.m., followed by Reino Norteño from 5 to 6 p.m.

Hillbilly Rockstarz will close out the carnival from
7:30 to 10:30 p.m.

Hillbilly Rockstarz bills itself as "Chicago's very
own country super group, specializing in covering the latest hits in country music, along with many of your classic favorites" and will cover a pickup truck's worth of today's country hits, as well as covers of favorites by Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Patsy Cline.

St. Joseph Carnival hours are 6 to 11 p.m. Thursday, June 1; 6 p.m. to midnight Friday, June 2; 3 p.m. to midnight Saturday, June 3; and 2 to 10 p.m. Sunday, June 4.

In addition to musical entertainment, the four-day event features carnival rides, games of skill and chance.

All are encouraged to bring hearty appetites. In
addition to familiar favorites like cotton candy, lemonade and ice cream, several local restaurants and other food vendors will sell such taste-tempting delights as pizza slices, Italian beef and sausage sandwiches, Maxwell Street-style Polish sausage, hot dogs, corn dogs, meatball sandwiches, eggplant sandwiches, chicken parmigiana, barbecue chicken sandwiches, chicken fingers, steak tacos, marinated pork tacos, chicken tacos, taquitos and fajitas, pork stew, rice and beans, empanadas, funnel cakes and more.

Wristbands that offer discounts on carnival rides are still available. For more information, call the St. Joseph Parish rectory at (708) 458-0501 weekdays.

The Carnival Committee at St. Joe's is encouraging
everyone to stop by and have a great time: parishioners, alumni, friends of the school and parish, as well as everyone in the larger community. That's you!

# # #

How About Letting Cops Do Their Jobs?

Opinion by John T. "Red" Ryan

ONE IS FORTUNATE to a few good friends, true friends that is. In our case we have Tom Mc Kenna. We really go back a long ways, to the second grade in 1953, to be exact. We were together at St. Theodore Grammar School, St. Rita H.S., the City Colleges;  Wilson & Bogan Branches (now renamed Kennedy-King & Richard J. Daley respectively).  We were in Boy Scouts, Altar Boys, Robert E. Wood Boys Club, softball teams and even coached grade school football and basketball. We each would ultimately put in 30+ years spent in the ranks of "the Glorious Blue"; better known as the Chicago Police Department. We did many other things together and remain close friends to this day.

WHEN WE HAVE discussions on topics such as politics and current events of the CPD, he had used an old quotation about the Media's interpretation of  certain situations. In certain occasional stories, the press boys offer complex, often highly theoretical, explanations of a particular incident.  When one of us notes that there is a simpler answer, Tom would often quote some old adage that goes; "Genius is the Ability to Detect the Obvious." 

WELL WHEN ONE contemplates that statement, it becomes very clear and truthful.  In its  simple and straightforward form, it nails it. It brings to mind that Hans Christian Anderson fable about "The Emperor's New Clothes." We've all heard that one and gotten the moral; that one's being the human trait of having reluctance in admitting lack of knowledge and fear of ridicule for not being "with it." (Remember in the end it's a young boy who sort of "sees through" the tailor's scam. )

WE FIND THAT the same principle can be applied to some of our current events. This business of the Chicago Police Department's being charged with the serious defect of institutionalized racism, inability to relate to the communities they patrol and providing under-service to same would properly be cited as classic examples of modern day counterparts of  that story of the invisible duds. In all fairness, we cannot just limit this broad based criticism of police departments to Chicago. Over the past 4 or 5 years, the Justice Department of the Obama Administration has made such charges in many communities, wherever there was civil unrest. Under Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, the Police Departments in Ferguson, MO., Baltimore, MD. and New York City (Staten Island), NY. have all been so maligned.       

IT SEEMS THAT each of these instances ultimately ends up with condemnation of the  local police, recommendations from the Feds, proposals of "new" training for the cops and the broadening of recruiting of cop candidates. They appear to  ignore the present minority and female representations that have been in place for some years. In reality, the sum total of all these actions by the Obama Justice Department was nothing less than a move to take over local police departments and federalize all police work.   

RATHER THAN HAVING the police department used as a political football, let's face up to the truths. It is the job of the cops to deal with both the lawless behavior of some and at the same time, guarantee the rights of all. Police departments do know how to handle these situations from experience. Why do the pols continually put the blame for these civil disruptions on those who are charged with the task of doing something about it?  Do they also blame  Firemen for fires, water departments for drought, etc.? It makes about as much sense.

NOW IN GETTING back to our original premise, why don't our elected "leaders" stop giving into these coalitions of radicals, career criminals and quasi-religious privateers and indeed  "....detect the obvious". Namely, let the police do their job and try backing them up while you're at it! Remember, all of the rest of the (law abiding) population also votes and deserves better than they're getting! Can't these folks see that?

DAMN, WHERE'S THAT boy from "The Emperor's New Clothes" when you need him?
~ ~ ~

John T. “Red” Ryan is a retired Chicago police officer and Garfield Ridge resident. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

St. Nicholas of Tolentine School Earns Praise, Prize for Academic Excellence

West Lawn grade school is ‘most improved’ among 77

By Mary Hadac
News Reporter
Southwest Chicago Post

As many Catholic schools across the Archdiocese struggle to keep their doors open, St. Nicholas of Tolentine continues to swim against the current and succeed.

The school, 3741 West 62nd Street, which has doubled its enrollment in the last decade, last week won the 2017 Croghan Teachers’ Award through the non-profit Big Shoulders Fund.

The victory was secured when St. Nick’s students showed the greatest level of academic improvement—as measured by standardized tests and other factors—among all 77 Archdiocesan grade schools that receive Big Shoulders financial assistance.

The announcement was made late last week in Hardiman Hall at the school by Big Shoulders President and CEO Joshua Hale, as students, parents, parishioners, administrators, faculty and staff cheered and high-fived each other.

Hale, who praised St. Nick’s “great academic program,” noted that the award carries more than $82,000--$40,000 for school scholarships and the rest to be split among faculty and staff for their personal use, as a way of thanking them for a job well done.

On hand to present outsized ceremonial checks were members of the Croghan family. The annual award was established more than two decades ago by Rosemary and John Croghan to honor and encourage excellence among Catholic elementary school teachers.

As several teachers wiped away tears of joy at what had been billed as a surprise announcement, Principal Dr. Mariagnes Menden accepted the award.

Principal Menden (polka dot dress) accepts hugs from Croghan family members.

“As Catholic school educators, we work in the best profession because we touch lives and we shape futures,” she told the assembly. “Being in Catholic education, being at St. Nick’s, is a gift that allows us to go home each day knowing that we made a big difference in our school and parish community just by being Catholic school teachers.”

A dozen years of success

When Menden came to the school in 2005, enrollment was at 190, not far from numbers that would have put it in danger of shutdown by the Archdiocese.

Today St. Nick’s has nearly 400 students.

Menden credits the success of the school to several factors, including the faculty and staff. When hiring new teachers, Menden said she looks for people who embody the mission statement of the school and believe in the ability of the students to succeed.

St. Nicholas is also one of the few Catholic schools in the area to have additional resources for special-education students. Students are integrated into the regular classroom, while also having access to additional tutoring. Two thirds of the students at St. Nicholas are also English Language Learners, meaning that English is not their first language.

Menden said the school also has a commitment to quality extra-curricular activities. Its music program has several levels of bands and choruses for students of all ages. They also have successful sports teams and try to integrate new sports every year.

 # # #

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Protection Against Abusive Cabbies

Opinion by John T. "Red" Ryan

ADMITTEDLY, MOST OF our neighbors do not find themselves availing the service of a taxicab very often. On those very rare occasions when we do, it is as a mode of transportation to or from the venue of one's catching an airliner. This may be a very short taxi ride to our local airport, Midway or a somewhat longer journey up to O'Hare Field. Recently it has come to our attention of how our citizens can be subjected to rude, dangerous and even criminal behavior by a small minority of unscrupulous and unruly cabbies. Southwest side neighbors in Clearing and Garfield Ridge have related their horror stories to us, all concerning Taxicab abuses and trips to or from the airports.

ONE CLEARING FAMILY was subjected to verbal abuse and physical threats because the cab driver did not want to take a short run from Midway to the nearby destination, near 63rd & Narragansett. When the cabbie finally did render his service very reluctantly, he sped off (peeling rubber) when he dropped the family at their home. In our own personal story, a taxi driver attempted to collect a double fare from this writer by insisting our home (52nd and Natoma) was in another municipality other than the City; insisting that Chicago's western boundary was Austin Avenue at that point. 

REPORTS FROM SOME contacts we have in the Police Department's Traffic Division/Public Vehicle Enforcement unit told us of incidents where taxi operators left O'Hare Field with passengers, stopped on the Kennedy Expressway, threw their baggage on the shoulder and left the people on the roadside. This is said to have occurred several times in an effort to avoid the "dreaded" short haul run.

JUST A LITTLE education in the subject of the Public Vehicle laws and operational rules  can and would eliminate the further occurrence of such incidents. First of all, let's debunk a couple of bits of bogus info that continue to circulate. First, as a prospective taxicab paying rider, one is entitled to any cab that is sitting in a line; not as you may hear only the first one. Secondly. a cabbie must accept a fare regardless of one's destination. 

THE BEST PROTECTION against abuse by the criminal element who masquerade as legitimate drivers is by being observant and knowing your rights as well as the procedures that the Public Vehicle commission uses to police the behavior of drivers. The cabbies may be called in for a hearing concerning any procedural rule misconduct and (of course) are subject to criminal prosecution for any acts in violation of the law. As a citizen, protect yourself by always making note of the taxicab's number and, if possible, the cabbie's name and chauffeurs' license number; which should be prominently displayed. The Public Vehicle Operations even has a downloadable complaint form available.

FOR MORE COMPLETE Information on this topic, we refer you to:
          City of Chicago, Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection
                      Public Vehicle Operations Facility
                      2350 W. Ogden Avenue, First Floor
                           Chicago, IL 60606
                           (312) 746-4600
~ ~ ~

John T. “Red” Ryan is a retired Chicago police officer and Garfield Ridge resident. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

‘Yarn Bomb’ Dropped on Archer Avenue

Afghans on trees bring color, whimsy, art to Garfield Ridge

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

Public art has made a rare appearance in Garfield Ridge, as four volunteers last Sunday
quietly wrapped about a dozen trees in colorful afghans at the Lech Walesa Triangle at the “five corners” intersection of Archer, 55th Street and Narragansett.

The “yarn bomb” effort is the brainchild of Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce President Mary Ellen Brown.

A Clearing resident, Brown—owner of Midway Storage, 5660 W. 55th St.—was assisted in her Mother’s Day task by her husband, Sam Carreon, and two daughters, Tala Morales and Jaqui Pilamunga.

Brown said the idea began taking shape almost a year ago.

"It really began last summer when I was visiting Eureka Springs, Arkansas,” she said. “The chamber of commerce there had done the same thing, and I figured we should try it up here to see how it looks."

Later, Brown got on the Internet and started visiting Pinterest. "I learned it was called 'yarn bombing,'" she said.

Brown decided to make it a family project. "I reached out to all the senior organizations I knew, but they all told me they didn't knit or crochet and didn't know of any groups that did. One senior finally agreed to put up a notice at the Senior Center near the 5400 block of Archer Avenue. That did the trick.”

Garfield Ridge resident Cherie Neville, who Brown said "crochets for fun," said she would donate some afghans to the cause. Neville gave Brown 15 blankets she had made.

"I don't think she quite understood we were using her blankets as art. I don't think she understood the concept, but she still donated her crocheted blankets. She usually donates the afghans to the VFW or gives them to the homeless in winter. She really enjoys crocheting and does it for fun," Brown said.

She added, "I started with a red, white and blue theme, but since we only had two
crocheters, we went with whatever colors they gave us."

The other person who donated afghans was Brown's mother-in-law, West Lawn resident Clara Carreon, who also crochets for fun, Brown said.

"At first she was like, 'We're going to be putting these on trees?' but when she drove by she just loved it," Brown said.

According to Brown, Carreon wasn't the only one. "A lot of people drove by and told us it looked nice."

"We hope to leave the afghans up all summer. We'll take them down before then if they start to look raggedy," Brown said.

Brown hopes she can repeat the process around Christmas and will be looking for Christmas-themed donations.

"I think this adds something to the area. I hope it puts a smile on peoples faces as they drive by," she said.

# # #

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Garfield Ridge Run is More Than Fun

About building a stronger and safer community

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

A typical 5K run is held for fitness, fun and often to raise funds for a charity.

The inaugural Garfield Ridge Stars & Stripes 5K Run, set for
Saturday, July 1, is all that and something more.

“This is more than a race—it’s basically a community challenge,” said Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch President Al Cacciottolo, whose crime-fighting organization is a supporter of the effort. “We want as many people as possible to run in the race—but for those of us who are not in shape to run a race like that, we want everyone to step away from the TV, the computer, whatever, and go out to the curbs of the course and cheer on the runners, and get outside and meet each other. A secure neighborhood starts with good people making connections, of getting to know each other and look out for each other.”

A number of the runners will be police officers, firefighters and active-duty military, he added.

“That’s one reason this is being held on July 1,” Cacciottolo added. “It’s just before the Fourth of July, and it follows the annual Patriot’s Day Parade (set for Friday, June 30 this year). In a way, it’s an opportunity for our community to step outside and thank those men and women who protect us.”

He said the hope is to “make this into a big event as years go by. There are runs like this in other Chicago neighborhoods, like Beverly and Lakeview—as well as a number of suburbs. Why not here in Garfield Ridge? We’re every bit as good as they are.”

The race will start and end at Wentworth Park, 57th and Narragansett. The course stretches as far west as Nordica Avenue, as far east as Merrimac, and between 56th and 59th Streets.

Opening horn sounds at 8 a.m., and an awards ceremony in the park at 9:30 will end the morning’s action.

The entire event is a product of Tri-Builders, a non-profit youth triathlon team that since its founding in 2013 has worked to encourage boys and girls to embrace physical fitness, said West Lawn resident Juan Ortega, a founder of the group, whose daughters—age 15 and 13—are members in the group.

A catcher and outfielder for Kelly High School back in the 1990s, Ortega today participates in distance running and related events.

“Tri-Builders is unique in this part of Chicago,” he said Tuesday at a meeting of the Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce, where he introduced the event to local business leaders. “We encourage all parents to check us out, and we look forward to a successful event on July 1.”

Participants must be capable of maintaining a 16:00/mile pace for the 5K run. There are six categories for adult runners and six for youths.

Entry fee is $25 for adults, $15 for children age 12 and younger. Registration and more information can be found at

# # #