As we head into the final weeks of summer, let’s take every opportunity to gather outdoors that we can! The biggest of these in our part of the country is the annual Pullman family picnic, which is due to start at 1 p.m. on August 6 at Arcade Park.
Pullman has many loyal residents who raised their families there and saw their children leave during their stay. The annual picnic is an opportunity for their children to rediscover their roots by bringing their friends with them. You are invited to do the same!
Many former residents make it an annual pilgrimage to recharge their memories and friendships. It is not necessary to bring food, but some people prepare for a 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. Lots of people hang around my house for a while, to get their bearings, before strolling through the park and the neighborhood. Inevitably, people meet someone they know and suddenly small groups start to form: that’s when the stories start to flow.
There are contests and games for kids, raffles for adults supporting next year’s event, and most importantly the annual t-shirt sale. This year’s t-shirt celebrates the many community social centers that existed in Pullman, also known as local bars. These establishments have played a role in the lives of many inhabitants by providing them with places to gather and eat for family celebrations. They also often supported community sports teams and became bases for many local athletes.
In the recent past, Pullman has undergone many changes, including the creation of the Pullman National Monument, the renaming of the Pullman Visitor’s Center to the Historic Pullman Foundation Exhibit Hall, the restoration of the soon-to-reopen Sessions Restaurant, and the establishment the Pullman House Project, which will feature some Pullman homes furnished and decorated in period styles.
Pullman National Monument is a fully functional part of the National Park Service, complete with park rangers, tour guides, and souvenirs. You can walk across 111th Street from the Florence Hotel to the Clock Tower Administration Building, which is the physical National Monument. There is also parking on 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 have taken my dog, Antonio, on many bike rides 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 outdoor event and Arcade Park offers plenty of open space. You can bring as many or as few picnics as you want.
You’ll enjoy a rare opportunity to see people you haven’t seen in ages and lots 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. Don’t forget that I live in Pullman, so there is definitely someone you will know: me!
Love the column? Buy the book! Copies of “Petals of Roseland: Loving Memories of Chicago’s Roseland, Pullman, and Kensington Neighborhoods” are available from me with fast shipping at $20 + $5 postage. My book is also available at D&D Foods, 1023 S. Halsted, Chicago Heights, Bookie’s New and Used Books, 10324 S. Western Ave, Chicago, and Miles Books, 2819 Jewett Ave., Highland, Indiana.
Contact me at [email protected] or 11403 S. St. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60628; 773-701-6756.