Imagine Woodstock: muddy fields, a sea of people and music on the breeze day and night.
Now imagine something similar in spirit but without the mud.
HomeWoodStock will be an informal gathering Saturday of Homewood residents past and present. It will begin generally mid-afternoon and will last as long as it lasts. And that’s where its connection to Woodstock resides — in the go-with-the-flow approach of the event’s leaders.
HomeWoodStock is the brainchild of John McKinley, member of the Homewood-Flossmoor High School class of 1970. He was soon joined by Tina Landry Otte, who provided help developing and promoting the idea.
McKinley sees the event as a kind of multi-generational class reunion, or a sort of festival but without the complications.
He got the idea after spending some time on the “I am from Homewood/Flossmoor/Glenwood” Facebook group.
People in the group enjoy reminiscing about growing up in the three villages, but McKinley noticed it wasn’t just one class or a particular age group that joined the conversation but people across a wide range of ages.
“It’s a convergence of people,” McKinley said. “I’m talking to people and making friends with people who are 30 years younger. I thought, ‘What if we get a bunch of these people together in downtown Homewood?'”
The organizational model for HomeWoodStock is similar to the Facebook forum. He set a date, issued an invitation and the rest will be up to those who show. There is no schedule, no program, no check-in or registration.
What McKinley hopes to see is people mingling at favorite village night spots, moving around, meeting old friends, meeting online friends face-to-face for the first time and making new friends along the way.
“Be on the look out for others, give a smile and shake hands with the folks around you,” he said in one Facebook post. “It’s a come when you want, stay as long as you want kind of event, where the only requirement is to smile and have a good time.”
Where the event differs from reunions or festivals is the intentional lack of organization. McKinley thought about the various time-consuming arrangements, complications and expenses of putting on an event and decided to pretty much forego it all.
“It totally had to be a crowdsourced event,” he said.
There are about eight food and drink establishments he expects HomeWoodStock participants to frequent. Most are old haunts that will help spark memories and generate conversation. McKinley, who lives in Geneva, visited Homewood about a month ago and recorded video at several places to remind former residents where they will be able to find friends old and new this Saturday.
And because the weather is expected to be nice Saturday, Otte suggested some people might want to start by having a picnic at Irwin Park.