ISLAND LAKE – Shortly after the Island Lake Independence Day parade, residents started lining up at the village hall in line for free hot dogs donated by local organizations and the village.
More than 100 people gathered to enjoy July 4 at Greenleaf Park as the event began Tuesday. The village budgeted for 1,000 attendees, or 1,000 hot dogs, said event organizer Tina Loos.
The event also featured a balloon toss, games and pony rides by the Glory Bound Rescue Ranch.
“It’s an awesome time to see the horses make kids happy.”— Jennifer Finkelman, president of Glory Bound Rescue Ranch
Island Lake trustees Stacey Pyne and Thadd Lewis said that the village has hosted the picnic for at least 15 years.
“We don’t have constant events so when we do it, we do it good,” Pyne said.
Loos had one word to describe why she pulls together the event every year: “Community,” she said.
Last year, Island Lake went through about 1,600 hot dogs, Loos said, so they were prepared for another big turnout this year.
“We have over 25 parks and this one is one of our biggest,” Pyne said. “It’s a way to show people ‘Look what we can do here.’”
In the field of Greenleaf Park were two horses that children could ride on for $5. The Glory Bound Rescue Ranch, based in Marengo, brings ponies to the picnic to help fundraise for its nonprofit that supports abused or neglected animals.
The ranch houses about 100 rescued animals, from dogs and horses to chickens and goats, founder Jennifer Finkelman said. Horses Sass O’ Frass and Fancy were getting a lot of attention from children at the event.
“It’s an awesome time to see the horses make kids happy,” Finkelman said.
Pyne and Lewis said that celebrating Independence Day is a chance to come out and connect with the community.
“It’s a great way for getting to know your neighbors,” Lewis said. “It makes for a better community.”