Giant Block Party 2016-08-20 206
Local News

Giant Block Party rallies after morning of rain

It apparently takes more than a half-day of occasionally torrential rain to derail a Homewood festival. Rain was heavy enough Saturday morning, Aug. 20, to flood streets, close the Dixie Highway viaduct and cause the cancellation of the first two Giant Block Party events, but by 2 p.m. the party was back on track.

Cecilia Dudik scampers across Martin Avenue in front
of the stage as the Eric Lambert Band performs
during Homewood’s Giant Block Party on Saturday.

(Photos by Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

It apparently takes more than a half-day of occasionally torrential rain to derail a Homewood festival.

Rain was heavy enough Saturday morning, Aug. 20, to flood streets, close the Dixie Highway viaduct and cause a rare closure of the farmers market.

  Katie Gleason grins after 
  winning the ice cream 
  eating contest in the age 

  9 and under class.

But village Event Manager Allisa Opyd predicted, “We’re going to have a fabulous afternoon and evening.”


She was right. 

The rain had mostly stopped shortly after 11 a.m., when the festival was set to begin. The first two events, the Pooch Parade/Dog Contest and the inaugural Liar, Liar contest had already been cancelled. The Homewood Science Center staff scrambled all morning to move its PopUp Science event into the science center garage, so it began on time at 11 a.m.

The rest of the festival picked up with the Eric Lambert Band and the first round of the ice cream eating contest starting at 2 p.m.

  Jake Nye took first place 
  in the age 10 to 18 class 
  of the ice cream eating 

The three-piece band, performing on a covered stage, continued playing through a brief shower shortly before 2:30 p.m., which sent people scurrying for cover but not for the exits. 

“I’m so glad to see so many people came back,” Opyd said following the shower. “Enough with the rain.”

With the exception of a few sprinkles now and then and another shower shortly after 6 p.m., the weather turned from horrible to quite pleasant the rest of the way.

It was good weather for an ice cream eating contest. Lambert made the announcement that the contest was about to start.

“We compete with children’s things. We compete with little furry animals,” he said. “Now we’re competing with ice cream.”

“You can’t compete with ice cream,” said his mandolin player.

Indeed, many of the youngsters aged 9 and under quickly made their way to the tables set up for the contest on Kroner Lane at the intersection with Martin Avenue. 

More than a dozen contestants risked “brain freeze” to gobble ice cream as fast as they could. The hands-free contest resulted in some ice cream-covered faces.

Kate Gleason, 8, of Homewood, finished first, winning a Dairy Queen gift card for her achievement.

  The Eric Lambert Band 
  performs the afternoon 
  set during the Giant 
  Block Party.

Asked how she had become such a proficient ice cream eater, Gleason shrugged. But her mother, Jennifer Gleason, reminded her that during a recent vacation she had eaten ice cream several times a day — good training, apparently, for the big event Saturday.

Jake Nye, of Homewood and a freshman at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, won in the aged 10 to 18 class later in the afternoon.

The contest, along with the food, music and games, seemed to ease the disappointment some people might have felt at the cancellations of early events.

  Final Say performs the 
  evening concert at the 
  Giant Block Party.

Vicky Carter, of Homewood, said her granddaughters, Maariyah and Najah Muhammad, of Hazel Crest, had been looking forward to the Pooch Parade since summer began. Carter’s dogs, Ruby and Egypt, were all decked out for the Dog Contest, too.

She said the girls had a great time anyway, playing games and participating in the ice cream contest. 

Kids also could get their faces painted by teen artists at the Theatre Arts Leadership Kouncil booth. Face painting is one way members raise money to support the organization’s activities and events.

The next TALK event, co-sponsored with Trails for Illinois, will be Trail Mix, a music festival on Sept. 10 in Izaak Walton Preserve. More information about that event can be found at

Members of the Homewood-Flossmoor High School Band hosted a booth where kids could decorate their own bird houses. The activity was a fundraiser to support the group’s spring break 2017 trip to Greece.

A crow-shaped scarecrow at the Homewood Community Relations Committee booth helped the group promote the third annual Scarecrow Contest, which will take place during Fall Fest on Sept. 17.

Cate Roberts, a member of the committee, said the scarecrow was intended to show that entries don’t have to be very elaborate or really scary.

She said previous contests have included designs that range from simple to elaborate. Committee members have said the purpose of the event is to give residents an opportunity to have some creative fun.

There is a small fee to participate, which covers the cost of provided materials. For more information, contact Homewood Public Works at 708-206-3470.

The theme of the PopUp Science activity was “Science Says… Be Social!” and provided a look at the social nature of humans. 

The science center has two PopUp Science events planned for September, “If it Can’t be Grown, It Must be Mined” from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 10 and “HF’s Life Aquatic” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 17. Both events will be at the center.

The evening concluded with the energetic performance of Final Say, and the music brought dancers back out onto the damp Martin Avenue pavement.

Opyd said she hopes to reschedule the two cancelled events. The Pooch Parade and Liar, Liar contest will be added to future farmers market programming. The farmers market takes place from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday through Oct. 8.

Opyd urged residents to check the village Facebook page for announcements about details of the rescheduled events.

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