LAKE BLUFF — Nearly every Lake Bluff home had an American flag flying 15 years ago after the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., and the village wants to rekindle the patriotic feeling.
The village plans to celebrate American pride with Patriotic Spirit Day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on September 10 on the Village Green the day before the community and the nation commemorate the anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
“Lake Bluff wants to pull out its red, white and blue,” said Joanna Rolek, the executive director of the Lake Forest Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce and an organizer of the event. “After 9/11 everyone was flying a flag here. You saw one outside every home.”
The event is sponsored by the chamber, the village and the Lake Bluff Park District.
Along with displays of patriotism in the village, Lake Bluff wants to let the sailors at Naval Station Great Lakes immediately to the north know they are welcome in town, according to Village President Kathleen O’Hara.
“The idea was to reach out to our military families and invite them to Lake Bluff,” said O’Hara. “We want them to come down and partake of what we have to offer. We had to have the celebration this year on the 15th anniversary of 9/11. It’s appropriate we welcome them and thank them.”
Members of the military will get more than a verbal welcome. Rolek said their military identification card will earn them discounts from more than 35 chamber members including restaurants, merchants and other places in both Lake Forest and Lake Bluff. A list can be found at LFLBmilitaryconnections.com.
Youngsters between 7 and 18 can get an up close military experience running an obstacle course, which is a scaled down version of one used by Navy SEALs in their training, according to Michael Keppen, who founded and runs Thrive Project for America.
“We educate and empower young people by building character,” said Keppen, a naval officer who has trained military personnel in special warfare, including the SEAL program. “The obstacle course is set up to challenge them mentally and physically.”
Younger children can get in on the act too. The park district has designed an obstacle course geared for children age 3 to 6, according to Jim Lakeman, the superintendent of recreation, along with other activities.
“There will be flag coloring and a craft,” Lakeman said. “We’ll have fitness equipment for adults to give them information about a healthy lifestyle.”
Everyone there who visits the USO booth will have an opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at Halas Hall, the training facility of the Chicago Bears in Lake Forest, according to Rolek. She said it is a rare opportunity. She said the tour will likely be in February.
Raffle tickets will be sold and a percentage of the money will go to the USO, according to Rolek. She said tickets are $20 each. There will be five winners and they each get to bring three additional guests along.
Other activities include a popcorn sale by the Boy Scouts option of having the purchase going to the military, according to Rolek. She said local scouts gave $85,000 worth of popcorn to members of the military last year.
Lake Forest American Legion Post 264 and its auxiliary will have an information booth including their programs and military/veteran resources, frozen treats will be provided by Suzy’s Swirl, CROYA will play music and Rosalind Franklin University Health Clinics will be on site with community information, according to Rolek.
The mood will turn serious the next day when the Lake Forest Police and Fire Departments hold a commemorative ceremony at 9 a.m. in Market Square to remember comrades and civilians who were killed that day, according to a news release from the city.