LAKE BLUFF — The Lake Bluff Police Department held its Halloween Hot Dog Roast behind the village’s Public Safety Building October 31, feeding ghosts, witches and princesses while creating a sense of community for the 29th year in a row.
“This is one of those things that’s just fun,” said Village President Kathy O’Hara as she handed out cold drinks chilling under bags of ice. “It’s a party and a celebration. I’ve been doing this since I was a trustee,” she added saying it is her eighth year.
Police Chief David Belmonte split time between grilling hot dogs and helping O’Hara give out drinks. Deputy Chief Mike Hosking concentrated on cooking the red hots during his last day before retirement after 35 years in law enforcement in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff.
“I picked today because of the hot dog roast,” said Hosking explaining why this was a special day to say goodbye to the community. “I just love all of this. It’s family, home town Americana.”
Charlotte Taylor, a second grader at Lake Bluff Elementary School, was experiencing her first American Halloween. Her mother, Sharon Taylor, an Australian, said the family spent the last seven years in Hong Kong before moving here for her husband’s job. The family picked Lake Bluff because of the reputation of the schools.
“This is fun,” said Charlotte Taylor. “I want some candy.”
Sharon Taylor said there were a few decorations around this time of year in Hong Kong, but it was nothing close to the American celebration.
“It’s very exciting,” said Sharon Taylor. “These costumes are cute and the decorations are great.”
Genevieve Doane, another second grader and a classmate of Taylor, was showing her friend the customs. Doane was there with her parents, Eric Doane and Rosalind Doane, both dressed in costume, and her kindergartner sister, Brigitte Doane.
“Trick or treat,” said Genevieve Doane when asked if she was going to seek candy after finishing her hot dog. “Over there,” she added, pointing to Center Avenue as scores of other trick or treaters were already walking on the sidewalks on both sides of the street.
While the senior Doanes were dressed in costume, Sharon Taylor was not. That will not be the case next year.
“I’m just taking it in this year,” said Sharon Taylor. “Next year I will be out (in costume) in full force.”
“A Sense of Community”
Scott Smith said he moved to Lake Bluff five years ago from Highland Park. Now he will not miss the hot dog roast and all the festivities that go along with it.
“There is just a real sense of community,” said Smith.
“I’m going over there,” added Olivia Smith, Scott Smith’s daughter, pointing in the direction of Center Avenue and holding a bag for candy.
Police Chief Belmonte, who has been with the department for 28 years, said the idea of the hot dog roast was created to combat bad behavior decisions made by some people in the village.
“We had vandalism on Halloween. There were broken windows and other things,” said Belmonte. “We decided to make this the center of Halloween. Now people come here and go trick or treating.” He said there has not been a problem since the hot dog roast was started.
Hosking was enjoying his last day on the job as he cooked the hot dogs. He spent 31 years with the Lake Forest Police and Fire Departments, retiring in 2007 as the director of public safety overseeing both police and fire.
Belmonte had just become chief in 2013 and he recruited Hosking to join the department as his deputy chief. Hosking said a major part of his job was training officers so people could climb through the ranks.
Enjoy these photos of the 2017 Lake Bluff Police Department Halloween Hotdog Roast! PHOTOGRAPHY BY GEORGE PFOERTNER