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Something to ‘root’ for: Chicago Ridge plants centennial tree

Chicago Ridge planted its centennial tree white oak Freedom Park Arbor Day which was Friday. Pictured are Mayor Chuck Tokar

Chicago Ridge planted its centennial tree, a white oak, at Freedom Park on Arbor Day, which was Friday. Pictured are Mayor Chuck Tokar (from left), Trustee Dan Badon, library director Kathy McSwain, park district board President Rob Pratl, Village Clerk George Schleyer and park district director Kevin King. | Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 28, 2014 6:42AM



Glancing at the white oak that had just been planted at Freedom Park, Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar on Friday said the tree may be around for generations to come.

“Apparently, these trees can live for hundreds of years. So it might be here for the next centennial. I guess that would be the bicentennial, wouldn’t it?” Tokar said. “And they can grow to be hundreds of feet tall.”

The village, which is having a yearlong celebration of its first 100 years, raised money for the tree during a Centennial Gala that was held April 12.

The tree cost $300, Tokar said, but the gala raised about $25,000 that will be used to pay for events such as a centennial parade on Sept. 7, a centennial weekend celebration party in Freedom Park that weekend and an ice cream social at the village hall Sept. 5.

But Friday — which not so coincidentally was Arbor Day — the focus was on what village officials are calling “the centennial tree.”

“This is a super spot, right at the entrances of the park,” Tokar said. “The park district was cooperative with us. By September, we’ll landscape around the tree and have a bronze plaque on a large stone with all the names of people on the park board and the village board. It will look great.”

Tokar thanked the park district for allowing the tree to be planted in Freedom Park.

“We don’t fight about anything. We talk about everything. Without their cooperation, this tree wouldn’t be here, RidgeFest wouldn’t be here and the centennial weekend wouldn’t be here,” Tokar said.

Chicago Ridge Park District Board president Rob Pratl and park district director Kevin King were among those doing some ceremonial shoveling Friday. So were Tokar, library director Kathy McSwain, village Clerk George Schleyer and village Trustee Dan Badon.

Monica Fletcher, who serves on the village’s planning and zoning board and is on the parade committee, made sure to attend the ceremony.

“Wonderful. It’s very nice,” said Fletcher, who has lived in Chicago Ridge for 68 of her 72 years.

Joe Oswald, who served on the park commission when it started, was snapping photos with his wife, Nancy. Like many in the village, they still are talking about the Centennial Gala that was held April 12 at The Glendora House.

“It was a wonderful party,” Nancy said.

Fletcher was there, too.

“I was out there dancing. It was very nice. It wasn’t political,” she said.



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