Tuesday, May 12, 2009

War brews between Orland Park and Naperville

A few years back when I wrote that Naperville had one of the best summer festivals in the county -- the annual Naperville RibFest which this year runs July 2 - 5 --and that Orland Park's "Orland Days" was fast falling to the wayside I was pilloried.

Afterall, I live in Orland Park, not Naperville. So why was I being "disloyal?"

Well, I love Orland Park. I think the Orland Days festival has been declining over the years and I think the Naperville RibFest is one of the best, trailed close-behind in second place by the Franfort Festival that is held every year around Labor Day weekend.

"Orland Days" will be held over Memorial Day Weekend. I criticized it last year and everyone said I was disloyal. Why is it an issue of loyalty to say that as a citizen of Orland Park, I want something better? I know the Orland Days volunteers do it for free. It's not easy. They carry the load. But the food stinks. Really. The past few years the food has been terrible, like they just threw the food together so they could say they had food. The parade is okay but that could be better, too. And the rides are a glorified carny-fest.

The Taste of Orland Park is a different story altogether, though. It is run and funded by the village. I understand. The village has more money than the Lions Club which sponsors Orland Days. But the food at Taste of Orland is tremendous; although the entertainment is always the same -- a lot of Irish singing and a few rock bands, but nothing that reflects the true diversity of the village.

Naperville has Huey Lewis & the News, and Blue Osyter Cult. Hmmm. And we have in Orland Park? (Clout?)

So why do I long for Naperville's RibFest?

Because Orland Park is GREAT and we deserve THE BEST. We deserve the best, not whatever we can manage. We deserve greatness, not whatever we can scrape together with volunteers who get over-sensitive to criticism and take everything personally.

Yes, you do a good job. And the king is wearing new clothes, too. If that's what you want to hear, fine. But I want to hear more. I want people in Orland Park when asked what they hope to see Orland Park become, answer with this answer: "We want Orland Park to be better than it is." I don't want to keep hearing Orland Park residents respond to the question by saying, "We want to be like Naperville."

If I wanted to live in Naperville, I'd move there. I like Orland Park, and have lived in orland Park longer than most of my neighbors.

Orland Park recently asked village residents what they would like tos ee to make Orland Park a better community. How about thicker skins from our elected officials and community cheerleaders and boasters? How about village employees who stop playing their petty politics and start doing their jobs?

The Orland Park-Naperville rivalry is a rivalry because some in orland Park want more and they are not getting it.

I hope we do.

-- Ray Hanania

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