Some attendees arrived 30 minutes early to browse the tables and find a seat in the shade of the tent.
One was Geri Sutterlin moved to Lemont from California nine years ago to live closer to her daughter. She loved all the activity in Lemont, from the bars to the car shows.
“There’s always something to do here,” Sutterlin said. “It’s a fun town. And everybody has everybody’s back.”
Kristian Gist, who helped with branding and marketing for the celebration, was at one the tables, distributing raffle tickets for a basket of items related to Lemont’s 150th anniversary. Gist said the table next to hers sold apparel for people of all ages, babies through adults, so people can “shop the whole collection.”
“We like to see people wearing it and loving it,” Gist said.
Author Pat Camalliere was displaying and selling her four historical mystery novels, which all take place in Lemont in different time periods, and that she has “three more in the works,” she said.
The village of Lemont had commissioned Camalliere to write a booklet of Lemont’s history. Camalliere had copies available for attendees.
The comprehensive booklet, “Lemont at 150 Years: Yesterday and Today,” included the following sections: Glaciers and Lemont, The Potawatomi and Settlement of Lemont, The Illinois and Michigan Canal, Lemont Stone and Quarries, Lemont and the Civil War, The Sanitary & Ship Canal, Smokey Row, The Cal-Sag Channel, Transportation, Businesses and People of Lemont, The Village of Faith, and Lemont Today.
Bill McAdam, president of the Lemont Park District board of commissioners and a lifelong Lemont resident, also arrived early. McAdam said he was 6 years old during Lemont’s centennial celebration, and even recalled parts of it.
McAdam said Lemont’s biggest change is growth in the community and was impressed that Lemont attracted, “so many people here on a Friday afternoon.”
‘Residents of Lemont have much to celebrate’
Lemont Mayor and State Rep. John Egofske spoke first. He kept the celebratory spirit intact by announcing, “All right, let’s get this celebration going come on!” when he approached the podium.
“I always said Lemont works hard and plays hard,” Egofske said. “And today is a day we’re going to play hard.”
Egofske praised Lemont residents for valuing their history, whether it’s chronicled in books or verbally shared from generation to generation – and that today’s residents are part of that history.
“Lemont, as we all know, is truly a special place,” Egofske said and later adding, “We are committed to preserving our heritage while fostering our growth.”
While reading the proclamation, Egofske said 243 villagers voted in favor of Lemont incorporating as a village and none voted against it.
“That was one popular vote,” Egofske said and then added, “That won’t happen again.”
Although records state that Lemont was established in 1836, it was not incorporated as a village until June 9, 1873, according to Lemont’s 150th anniversary website. Lemont’s 150th website also lists movies that were filmed in Lemont as well as “notable Lemonters.”
I’m proud to represent this community that has allowed so many families, including mine, to realize the American dream.”— State Sen. John Curran
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster said Friday’s event was entered into the congressional record so that would always be available online for people to read. He praised Lemont’s rich history and said, “residents of Lemont have much to celebrate.”
Foster also said residents are, “a vibrant community optimistically ready to celebrate its next 150 years.”
State Sen. John Curran echoed those sentiments by stressing Lemont’s significant contributions in business, culture and faith and how residents are well-connected to each other.
“I’m proud to represent this community that has allowed so many families, including mine, to realize the American dream,” Curran said.
Richard A. Kwasneski, former Lemont mayor and current president of the board of directors for Pace Suburban Bus, said people in Lemont really do make history, And he encouraged residents to share that history with their families.
“History is really something that should be passed on to the next generations,” Kwasneski said.
George J. Schafer, Lemont’s village administrator, dedicated the future Village Green park and asked the anniversary planning committee, the “hardworking individuals who planned these events for the year-long celebration,” to come to the front he could acknowledge them.
Members of the planning committee for Lemont’s 150th anniversary are Jason Berry, Barb Buschman, Susan Donahue, Stephanie Katopodis, Shannon Kazmierczak, Jane McCague, Linda Molitor, Donna Pecina, Lauren Raspanti, Janet Schatz, Traci Sarpalius and Julie Thomas, according to Lemont’s anniversary website.
Village partners for the 150th anniversary include Lemont Park District, Lemont Public Library, Heritage Corridor Business Alliance, Lemont Area Historical Society and Museum and the Lemont Junior Womens Club, according to Lemont’s anniversary website.
Jason Berry, economic and community development director for the village, previously said that the Pollyanna Brewing Company is honoring immigrant backgrounds with a special Lemont 150 Lager, “a European style lager, of course,” he said.
Local artist Joyce Affelt created the can art and brew sales will fund Village Green Park in downtown Lemont, according to the Lemont 150 website.
The celebration continues on Saturday. Lemont’s 150th Anniversary Fest on Saturday will run from 1 to 6 p.m. on Front St. in Lemont.
Saturday’s event will feature food (ethnic and American), live entertainment including Lemont High School Band, Lithuanian folk dancers, Slovenian Youth Group Marela Dancers, Irish dancers; pierogi eating contest, children’s entertainment, carnival games, mining rocks activity, competitions, raffles, photo opportunities with Mr. Lincoln and Lemont’s 150th anniversary photo booth.
For more information, visit lemont150.com.