Photo by Dermot Connolly
For the next few months, patrons can walk and read “The Watermelon Seed’’ in Oak Lawn's Lake Shore Park.
What is better than a walk in the park? Perhaps having a book to read along the way.
With the July 1 unveiling of StoryWalk in Oak Lawn’s Lake Shore Park, 96th Street and East Shore Drive, that is exactly what is available now for young children and families. Brought to Oak Lawn through a partnership between Oak Lawn Library and Park District, the StoryWalk™ Project was created by Anne Ferguson in Montpelier, Vt., and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg Hubbard Library.
“The Watermelon Seed,” by Greg Pizzoli, was the first children’s book to go on display in the park on the banks of Oak Lawn Lake.
“Wonderful things happen when people work together,” said Mayor Sandra Bury at the official ribbon-cutting. Among those joining her and dozens of families for the opening were Village Clerk Jane Quinlan, Park District Director Maddie Kelly, Park District Board President Gary Callahan, Secretary Sue Murphy, and other and library and park district officials.
“July is Parks and Recreation Month, so this is a great time to launch this,” said Kelly, adding that the idea to bring StoryWalk to Oak Lawn after she and others saw a similar display in a park in Glenview a couple of years ago.
David MacDonald, recreation supervisor for the Oak Lawn Park District, said the Park District and Library have been working on completing the project for the past two years. The 19 metal and plastic displays were handmade by Public Works employees over the past winter, and have the appearance of large encased books on stands.
Following the ribbon-cutting, girls in the Park District’s IndepenDance team kicked off the entertainment, performing several fast-paced dances. But most of the boys and girls seemed more excited about “The Watermelon Seed.” As soon as the show was over, they led their parents through the book display, laid out page by page, at numbered stations on the path through the park on the banks of Oak Lawn Lake.
In keeping with the theme, librarians dished out fresh watermelon and watermelon ice cream, along with other refreshments during the event. Park District volunteers also handed out sidewalk chalk and bubbles for children who wanted them.
Chicago resident Jeniece Drake-Weatherall, walked the path with her son, Destin, 5, who was eager to read each page displayed along the way. “We like all the programs the Park District and the Library have,” said Drake-Weatherall. “Destin gets involved in a lot of them. That is how we found out about this.”
Kristina and Daniel Kynaston were there with their daughter, Emma, 4. “She is learning to read, and anything to do with books is good with us,” said Kristina.
Oak Lawn resident Jamie Guardi, and her three daughters, Nora, 6, Maggie, 5, and Kate, 3, also enjoyed the walk, and reading along the way. While the girls said they liked the book, Jamie said, “I like that it is beside the park, with the playground equipment, and the water. There is something for everyone, and it gives you something to look at along the way.”
The displays will change seasonally, and MacDonald said the next book scheduled to go up in September is “It’s Fall,” by Linda Glaser.
That leaves a lot of time to find out what happens with “The Watermelon Seed.”