It’s picnic time in Pullman!

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As we head into the final weeks of summer, let’s grab every opportunity to gather outdoors that we can! Chief among them in our neck of the woods is the annual Pullman Family Picnic, slated to start at 1 p.m. on Aug. 6 at Arcade Park.

Pullman has many stalwart residents who raised their families there and watched their kids leave while they stayed. The annual picnic is a time for their kids to return to their roots, bringing their friends with them. You’re invited to do the same!

Many former residents make it an annual pilgrimage to recharge their memories and friendships. It’s not necessary to bring food, but some people do come prepared to picnic.

I make it a point to attend every year and set up a canopy, chairs and tables in the southwest corner of Arcade Park. A lot of people hang out at my spot for a while, getting their bearings, before taking a walk around the park and neighborhood. Inevitably, folks run into someone they know and suddenly small groups start to form: That’s when the stories start to flow.

There are contests and games for the kids, raffles for the adults that support next year’s event, and best of all the annual t-shirt sale. This year’s t-shirt celebrates many of the community social centers that existed in Pullman, also known as the local bars. These establishments played a part in the lives of many residents, giving them places to gather and catering family celebrations, too. They also often supported community sports teams and became home bases for many local athletes.

In the recent past, Pullman has undergone many changes, especially with the creation of the Pullman National Monument, the renaming of the Pullman Visitor’s Center as the Historic Pullman Foundation Exhibit Hall, the restoration of the soon-to-be reopened Sessions Restaurant, and the establishment of the Pullman House Project, which will showcase a few Pullman houses furnished and decorated in period-appropriate styles.

The Pullman National Monument is a fully functioning part of the National Park Service, complete with park rangers, exhibits tour guides and souvenirs. You can walk across 111th Street from the Hotel Florence to the Clock Tower Administration Building, which is the physical National Monument. There’s also a parking lot that is at the site and the site is handicap accessible.

If you haven’t been back to Pullman in many years, you will be surprised at the beautiful landscaping the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has undertaken to develop the entire area into a beautiful national park that we can all be proud of. I’ve taken my dog, Antonio, on many a bike ride through Pullman and the National Monument and we love it.

Coming to the annual picnic could be the antidote to COVID-induced isolation you need. It’s an outdoors event and Arcade Park provides plenty of open space. You can bring as much or as little picnic as you like.

You will enjoy a rare opportunity to see people you haven’t seen in ages and a lot of people who share your roots. You can come directly to Pullman by getting off the Bishop Ford Freeway (I-94) at 111th or 115th which means you only have to drive through Roseland if you want to. Remember, I live in Pullman so there is definitely someone you’re going to know — me!

Love the column? Buy the book!  Copies of “Petals from Roseland: Fond Memories of Chicago’s Roseland, Pullman and Kensington Neighborhoods” are available from me with prompt delivery at $20 + $5 s&h. My book is also available at D & D Foods, 1023 S. Halsted, Chicago Heights, at Bookie’s New and Used Books, 10324 S. Western Ave, Chicago and at Miles Books, 2819 Jewett Ave., Highland, Indiana.

Contact me at petalsfromroseland@gmail.com or 11403 S. St. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60628; 773-701-6756.

 

About C.J. Martello

CJ Martello has returned to his roots as the author of “Petals from Roseland.” After five years of writing his column as a resident of Chicago's North Side, CJ put his money where his heart is and moved to Pullman, near the Roseland area in which he grew up. Having joined the Spaghetti-Os, Veneti nel Mondo and St. Anthony of Padua Parish and being one of the founders of the Roseland Roundtable Facebook page, CJ has become reacquainted with countless friends and acquaintances from his youth. CJ is looking forward to retirement and completing the books he has put on hold, including one that will encompass as much of Roseland's rich, beloved history as possible.

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