ELMHURST – Frantically seizing discounted flower arrangements, stumbling through the housewares, cosmetics, and “seasonal” aisles with no regard to other shoppers, and breaking every rule of etiquette in the Express Lane Checkout line, more than 300 procrastinating Elmhurst husbands bombarded the 944 S. York St. Jewel-Osco late Thursday afternoon in search of last-minute Valentine’s Day gifts for their wives.
Greeting cards, kitchen utensils, and expired pints of Driscoll’s brand strawberries were among the most frequent purchases by Elmhurst husbands, who desperately employed butcher counter staff to wrap gifts and asked pharmacists to recommend romantic body soaps during a frenzied two-hour period starting shortly after 4:00 p.m.
“It’s a madhouse in here,” said S. Euclid Ave. husband Joe Seaver, holding a 3-foot long box of Russell Stover Pecan Delight Assorted Chocolates in the wine aisle while trying to remember if his wife prefers Barefoot Moscato or Woodbridge Pinot Grigio. “Looks like I’m not the only husband in town that waited until the last minute to buy presents for his wife.”
While many husbands put a lot of thought into eleventh-hour gift choices like cast iron fryer pans, moisturizing facial scrubs and Revlon hairdryers, others showed haste in their purchases.
“I just grabbed an oven thermometer, which is probably what I bought her last year,” said Stratford Ave. husband Jerry Lincicome, holding an unread Valentine’s Day card for this wife while rummaging through a sparse collection of candles and debating whether he should just buy a lavender and chamomile scented Air Wick refill instead. “She said didn’t want anything for Valentine’s Day, so I’m sure she’ll be impressed that I bought some stuff anyway.”
At press time, police were called to the Redbox kiosk outside of Jewel-Osco after a fight broke out among husbands all trying to rent “The Notebook”.
ELMHURST – Nearly 56,000 square feet of living space, seven full-time employees paid for with your monthly assessments, and breathtaking views of the post office and the Union Pacific railroad tracks are all yours when you purchase “The Hill”, a single-unit, five-story condominium space under construction at 105 S. Cottage Hill in downtown Elmhurst.
At an asking price of $28,000,099, The Hill’s only unit in the building features elevated ceilings, two spacious bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths, and an underground parking garage with ample room to store your automobiles, boats, and Christmas decorations.
There’s a gourmet kitchen, a dramatic fireplace, and high-end details throughout the unit. The master bedroom boasts a private bathroom, a large walk-in closet, and a basketball court.
The rooftop terrace has a swimming pool, a gas grill, and enough room for up to 40 guests. You can gaze upon the 164-unit Opus apartment complex built for those not rich enough to own The Hill, or you can take a mere 60-second trip in your private helicopter over to the top level of the Schiller St. parking garage and then have a nice dinner at Subway or Livia.
This one-of-a-kind condominium is listed by The Schiller Team, a local real estate brokerage group that is developing the property. According to Schiller listing agent Mike Sparrow, the building will be at 100% capacity once someone purchases the unit.
“This is sophisticated, yet comfortable living,” said Sparrow, speculating that the building’s lone resident will often contemplate whether to utilize the elevator or the escalator to reach the doorway of his or her unit. “You won’t find another condo in Elmhurst that has a concierge, easier access to the post office, and is walking distance to Wilder Park, a handful of yoga studios, and singles bars like The Club and FFC.”
While the property taxes have not yet been established, Sparrow believes that the $28,000 in monthly assessments is fair based on the amenities of The Hill.
“Helicopter pilots and elevator operators aren’t cheap,” said Sparrow, noting that basic cable is included with the unit. “But let me be frank: If you have to ask how much assessments are at The Hill, then you probably can’t afford to buy The Hill.”
Two retail spaces on the first floor have already been leased to a pawn shop and a tobacco paraphernalia store.
Dear Kevin: “My family and I may be moving to Elmhurst later this year and I was wondering if there are any fitness centers in town?” – Buff Bod from Brookfield.
Dear Buff Bod from Brookfield: Are there any fitness centers in town? Do trains always seem to come through Elmhurst whenever I have to drop my son off at preschool on the other side of the tracks? The answer to both these questions is: Absolutely!
Pick your poison. We have well-known locales such as Orangetheory Fitness, Courts Plus, LA Fitness, and a Fitness Formula Club, to name a few. We also have other lesser-known locations that resemble a vacant storefront where someone threw down floor mats and free weights and wants to charge you $25 a session to grunt in unison with their cult. Elmhurst is slowly becoming the mecca of fitness centers, and not all of the residents are happy about it.
While on his nightly patrols, I caught up with outspoken critic and Arlington Avenue Neighborhood Watch Block Captain Tom Wolfe, for his thoughts.
“I’m sick of having a gym everywhere you turn in this town, transforming all my neighbors and even my family into fitness freaks. You know why I go on these nightly patrols? Partly because that Sullivan kid down the block is a little shady and I have keep my eye on him, but mostly because I don’t want to hear about how many splat points my wife Julie got today at Orangetheory, or how many floors my daughter Allie climbed on the stair climber. We have stairs at home. Pay me $99 a month and you can climb them as much as you want.”
I may not have the same sentiments as Captain Wolfe regarding the plethora of fitness centers around Elmhurst, but do agree they seem to be everywhere, and I wonder if all these options are sustainable in this small market.
I think back to my Econ 101 class and the law of supply and demand. There is certainly no short supply of fitness centers, and whether or not the demand is there remains to be seen. I’d like to see Elmhurst be proactive in addressing this problem though. As my neighbor Mary Gnadt says, “When life gives you lemons, you either shove them in the mouths of babies for the amusement, or you make lemonade.”
What if instead of using those TIF funds to attract more fitness centers, we use them to subsidize gym memberships for Elmhurst residents to the current locations? That would stimulate the demand to hopefully be in line with the existing supply. Perhaps we qualify it for individuals with a BMI of 25 or greater so my fat ass gets off the couch? I’m sure we can tie in a promo for the new Culver’s being built and throw in a complimentary shake when it opens as a sweet-treat reward for their first workout.
I asked Captain Wolfe what he thought about that idea as he finished his patrol.
“You want to talk about shakes? Last summer, my son Ben was on his way home from the gym and asked if I wanted a shake. Please keep in mind he knows I like those chocolate shakes from Hamburger Heaven. They’re not as good as the chocolate cake shakes from Portillo’s, but I get aggravated when a cake crumb clogs my straw. Anyhow, he walks through the door and hands me some green concoction. It was a ‘Matcha Smoothie’. What the (expletive) is Matcha? Where’s my shake? I’m sorry, what was your question? Hold on….there goes that Sullivan kid.”
So to answer your question Buff Bod from Brookfield, yes, Elmhurst has plenty of options for fitness centers. Also, I would steer clear of Arlington Avenue at night if you want to avoid being harassed by the Neighborhood Watch.
ELMHURST – Brutally cold temperatures and a dangerous wind chill that resulted in school cancellations, a limited number of options to purchase alcohol, and a devastating two-day delay in mail delivery were among the struggles endured by Elmhurst residents this week as the polar vortex entered the Midwest, virtually shutting down the city on Wednesday and Thursday.
Snow on Tuesday afternoon followed by historically-low temperatures over the next two days took an icy grip over Elmhurst and forced residents to either ride out the weather at home in the company of their own family or venture out into the polar vortex for necessities such as Tito’s vodka, spin classes at FFC, and the latest Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons purported to have been mailed out on Monday and awaiting pick up at the Elmhurst Post Office.
“I promised myself I would never go inside the post office again,” said resident Lindsay Law, waiting in line Thursday morning to purchase a Cinnamon Shortbread Latte at the jam-packed downtown Elmhurst Starbucks. “The last time I was in there, the girl behind the counter yelled ‘Next’ really loud. But I haven’t received my ComEd bill since August, and I’m pretty sure that the Arhaus spring furniture catalog is due any day now. I’m really not sure what to do.”
Throughout Elmhurst, residents faced similar decisions as temperature dipped below minus 20 degrees both Wednesday and Thursday.
“I have to admit, I wasn’t prepared for this weather,” said Kent Ave. resident James Rudy, who bravely spent $5.23 to employ an Uber driver traveling from Niles to usher him to the S. York St. Jewel-Osco two blocks away from his home. “But I ate my entire package of Oreo ‘Most Stuf’ cookies last night, so I had to ‘buck up’ and go to the store for more. I’m just thankful that Jewel took the right measures under these circumstances by opening up a second check-out lane.”
While most residents were thankful for those businesses that did not close on Wednesday and Thursday, others questioned the recklessness of business owners who remained open during the frigid weather.
“Not having a valet service at this restaurant puts my safety at risk,” said resident Sherman Myers, eating Rigatoni alla Mantovana inside of Francesca’s Amici Wednesday night while staring out the window at his idling vehicle parked directly across the street. “I’m going to talk to the manager and see if I can get a bottle of wine comped.”
The City of Elmhurst announced Thursday evening that garbage pick up would resume on Friday and that residents should expect to see a slight increase in their next water bill to offset the cost of extra snow removal during the month of January.
by Kevin Flanagan, Elmhurst Funion Advice Columnist and Opinion Writer
Elmhurst ranks as one of the best sledding destinations in Illinois, based on data from the Sledding Hills of the Greater Midwest Region of the United States of America in the Western Hemisphere of Planet Earth (more commonly known as SHGMRUSAWHPE). According to SHGMRUSAWHPE, Elmhurst has three lighted sled hills available for use (Berens Park, Crestview Park and Eldridge Park) while Ben Allison Park provides a fourth option in the form of a junior sledding hill. I decided to embark on the adventures that Ben Allison Park has to offer over the weekend, and what I uncovered could only be described as a microcosm of what is wrong in this world.
Most sledding experts consider it a cardinal sin to walk up the middle of the hill after your run. Conventional wisdom dictates that after your run, the side of the hills should be used for ascension. According to local sledding enthusiast Colin “Sled Dog” Brinkmann, there is no exception to this unwritten rule in the sledding world and “take outs” are the only way to curb this type of behavior from happening.
“I’ve seen this happen at other hills in the area,” said Sled Dog. “It starts with a young child walking up the middle of the hill, and soon everyone is doing it. Next thing you know, no one is sledding because everyone is walking up the middle of the hill. I’m not going to let that happen here in my hometown.”
Had this unwritten rule been followed, young Mitch Fafinski may still be sledding today instead of being carted around in a half body cast. On his fateful run, Mitch decided to take the most direct path to the top of the hill, turning 180 degrees and hiking straight back up the center of the hill. That was all the excuse necessary for Sled Dog to take Mitch out with his Sonic Snow Tube.
“What happened to that kid is a tragedy, but it had to be done,” boasted an unforgiving Sled Dog. “Maybe he should go back and watch a few more episodes of Blues Clues to figure out those boot prints along the side of the hill are the path to the top. He’ll have the rest of this sledding season to figure it out now.”
While Mitch’s parents Heidi and Mike were being restrained by the Elmhurst Police Department 20 minutes after the incident, Sled Dog continued to taunt them.
“Sorry, but not sorry. Little kids are resilient. Find him a good ortho and I’m sure he’ll be back to 100% in 6-8 weeks. We’ll see him next season and hopefully he’s learned his lesson. If not, Johnny’s coming back to sweep the leg one more time!”
The likes of Sled Dog and Mitch aren’t the only people who taint the sledding experience. Non-participants on the sled hill are just as bad.
Take for example the coven of mothers who gather at the top of the hill, donning their latest fashions from Canada Goose and Ugg. They block half the hill from sledding, locked in a debate worthy of the days of Plato and Socrates about why pumpkin spice lattes aren’t available year-round while sipping their Tito’s Vodka-infused chai teas from Brewpoint. If they would just move 10 feet further back, the backlog of sledders they’re creating would be alleviated by that side of the hill becoming available.
Then you have the “athletic dad” at the base of the hill causing a commotion as frozen blood seeps from underneath his daughter’s lifeless body. She is clearly suffering from a compound fracture and yet is being told to “slap some snow on the wound and get back on that hill. I didn’t raise a quitter!”
So when the next snowstorm hits Elmhurst and you take to the sled hills, let’s be mindful of our neighbors and try not to be one of “those” people. Have fun and remember to use the side of the hill when returning to the top. But if you do have to take someone out, just know that the Fafinski family is offering a $500 bounty on the head of Sled Dog.
Knowledgeable of many topics, expert in none. Just “Ask Kevin”, and have some fun!
by Kevin Flanagan, Elmhurst Funion Advice Columnist and Opinion Writer
Dear Kevin: “My 4-year-old often wakes up in the middle of the night and wants to sleep in bed with my husband and me. We either have to let him join us, or we have to spend upwards of an hour getting him back in to bed until he falls asleep again. Do you have any suggestions on how to curb this behavior?” – Sleepy on Saylor Avenue
Dear Sleepy on Saylor Avenue: I can relate to your situation, as we have a 5-year-old that went through the same phase. We took a “tough love” approach that we found to be very effective.
We created a character called the “Toe Monster”. The basic premise is that the Toe Monster sneaks under the beds of children every night. When a child gets out of bed or makes excessive noise, the Toe Monster grabs them and pulls one of their little toes off to add to its collection. My mother happens to be diabetic and had a toe amputated several years ago, so we capitalize on this coincidence to sell the story to our son about how she was once “caught” by the Toe Monster at a young age.
The key to this approach is to make sure your son understands two things:
He has to quiet once he goes to bed – no yelling for Mommy or Daddy.
He must remain in bed until daylight, no matter what.
My wife and I have had so much fun with it that we often take it to another level: When there’s nothing on TV, we’ll set up a hidden camera, grab some monster gloves (you can pick up a cheap pair on Amazon for less than $15), hide under his bed and haunt him for part of the night.
He didn’t believe us at first. But we now have this hilarious video of him looking down from his bed and seeing the monster hands sticking out, and just freezing in pure terror. My wife even adds sound effects by shaking a half jar of pretzels to mimic the sound of the Toe Monster’s collection. Around Halloween time, you can find fake toes at the store and leave them out on your son’s floor every now and then. Just tell him that the Toe Monster must have “dropped” them while waiting to catch his next child.
It took only a couple of days for this to work. We did have one incident in which we forgot the monster gloves hanging out from under his bed and we didn’t realize he was stuck up there until after lunch the next day. After a few counseling sessions and some new sheets, we now make it a point to get the gloves each time.
If you’re interested in picking up our fake toes, head over to Elmhurst Area eParents and search my name. You’ll see I have them listed for sale as a “porch pickup” item. We’ve been interruption-free at night for the past eight months now, and we no longer need to explain why Mommy and Daddy are “wrestling” at 2:00 a.m.
“Just ask Kevin” is written by Kevin Flanagan, who peruses Wikipedia and is a self-proclaimed expert in all subjects and fields. If you have a question or issue and would like Kevin’s advice, please email him at email@example.com
“While Kevin’s methods are considered unconventional, they are no doubt effective. But the long-term effects of such trauma remain to be seen.”
– Anonymous psychologist who wishes to protect his/her reputation.
ELMHURST – Confounded by a cavalcade of order takers, money handlers, and food runners encroaching upon his vehicle at a dizzying pace in the drive-thru of the Route 83 Portillo’s and bewildered by the introduction of a double car lane that instantly merges back down to one lane, Elmhurst resident Dan Offerman told reporters riding along in his SUV Wednesday afternoon that “over-staffing” is the reason that the fast-food franchise charges $2.99 for a “goddamn hot dog”.
“It’s a miracle that this place is still in business with so many employees out here,” said Offerman, apparently unaware that each Portillo’s unit averages nearly three times the sales of a typical McDonald’s location. “Why can’t the same person who takes your food order take your payment as well?”
Bitterly staring at the order number now affixed to his windshield which he is certain will not be removed after he receives his food, Offerman read a complicated order for his family of five to a Portillo’s employee wearing a headset and carrying a tablet before inching his vehicle forward to pay a different employee.
“Make sure they pack the cheese sauce for my fries,” barked Offerman, seemingly agitated by the payment processor’s correct recital of the food order riddled with modifications – yet impressed that the teenager is entrusted to walk around outside with a “fat stack of cash”.
Having now reached the menu board nearly 150 feet after his food order was taken, Offerman took a moment to look at the food prices.
“Are you (expletive) kidding me? I’m paying $2.99 for a goddamn hot dog?” shouted Offerman, who earlier this month discarded a plate full of Parkview brand hot dogs that his wife purchased at Aldi and boiled in hot water. “These prices are outrageous!”
After a grueling four-minute drive-thru experience from start to finish, Offerman let his emotions boil over when employee Jacob Shields delivered his food.
“Now take that damn ticket off of my windshield, you worthless piece of crap,” yelled Offerman to the Timothy Christian senior honor roll student who works 20 hours every week at Portillo’s and volunteers at the Yorkfield Food Pantry on Saturday mornings.
At press time, Offerman was back at home eating his third hot dog while trying to decipher the hieroglyphic order codes written in pencil on one of the food bags.
ELMHURST – Around-the-clock gunfire, dozens of tree stands erected in violation of building code and scattered throughout parks and neighborhoods, and confusion as to whether carcass disposal calls for a “yard waste” or a “refuse” sticker are just some of the problems the City of Elmhurst is facing after hastily enacting a four-month “Coyote Hunting Season” that began December 1st and runs through March 31st.
Passed unanimously by the Elmhurst City Council last month to alleviate an overwhelming community concern over the increased sightings of coyotes throughout town and to reduce the number of traffic accidents as a result of motorists attempting to photograph the adaptive predator while driving, the inaugural hunting season allows any Elmhurst resident over the age of 10 to purchase a special coyote hunting license and to use “whatever means they see fit” to kill them.
With nearly 500 licenses purchased through Wednesday, coyote hunting season has created multiple unexpected repercussions that “no one could have seen coming”.
“A coyote hunting season seemed like a ‘no-brainer’,” said Elmhurst Mayor Steve Morley, admittedly caught off guard by the “endless issues” that have sprung up and baffled by the over-enthusiasm of residents to shoot or trap the animals using an infinite number of weapons including sawed-off shotguns, crossbows and spears. “We simply didn’t consider all of the necessary regulations that should have been included in the hunting license”.
Two weeks into the hunting season, city officials are scrambling to address numerous complaints from the community like carcasses left near school bus stops, residents shooting at coyotes while riding aboard the Holly Trolley, and whether the frequency of gunfire in North Elmhurst is “normal” or just a result of the hunting season.
Despite the difficulties, Elmhurst residents have embraced coyote hunting season. “Fresh kills” tied to the hoods of Escalades and Hummers can be spotted throughout town on a daily basis, while local businesses are selling the meat and skin of the animal in a variety of ways.
York Furrier has several coyote fur coats for sale, including an amethyst-dyed coyote jacket featuring a rounded wing collar, straight sleeves and traditional hook and ring closures ($3,900). Restaurants have used coyote meat as a pizza topping, a soup ingredient, and as a variation to the “Happy Meal”.
Coyote hunting licenses are $5.00 and can be purchased at City Hall, the post office, or Jewel-Osco.
ELMHURST – Comparing the mob scene to the library’s memorable 2015 video rental release of “Fifty Shades of Grey”, visibly-distraught Elmhurst Public Library president Marsha Baker told reporters huddled inside of Meeting Room B Friday afternoon that the first-ever “Men of Elmhurst Public Library Calendar” sold out in just 15 minutes Thanksgiving night and was marred by abusive behavior, “cat-fights”, and property damage.
All 750 copies of the 2019 calendar – featuring provocative photographs of scantily-clad male librarians, help desk employees, and custodians in various sections of the library – were snatched up by “hostile” Elmhurst residents who waited in line for hours outside to get a copy. The calendar was priced at $19.99 to library card holders and $49.99 to those without a library card. The library opened at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving for the calendar sale to avoid disruption during its regular operating hours.
“We were ready for a large crowd, but not mayhem,” said Baker, who doubled the standard number of security guards on duty to two and assigned one of her clerks to pass out holiday book markers and to remind customers of the library’s “quiet” policy. “There was a lot of pushing and shoving and swearing, just like you see on those Black Friday videos or when the York Theatre shows a free 9:30 a.m. movie during the holidays.”
While Baker had sensed growing anticipation for the “Men of Elmhurst Public Library Calendar” after its release date was announced in the Autumn “Fine Print” newsletter, no one on staff was prepared for the onslaught of an estimated 2,500 people who charged through the library’s west entrance on Thanksgiving night when the doors were unlocked.
“There were more than a few things we could have done better,” said Baker, who admitted that the situation escalated when would-be buyers with pending late fees at the library were told they would not be allowed to purchase a calendar. “If we do another calendar next year, maybe we’ll print 7,500 copies instead of 750.”
At press time, the calendar was fetching up to $200 on the secondary market through popular buy, sell and trade Facebook groups like “Elmhurst Area eParents” and “Elmhurst eTalk”.
ELMHURST – Gushing over the latest statistics that show a sharp decrease in local crime over the last few months, Elmhurst Police Chief Michael Ruth told reporters Tuesday afternoon that the department’s “Summer Mobile Patrol Unit” – comprised of officers who ride on one of ten performance hybrid bicycles or drive a tricked-out electric golf cart purchased from River Forest Country Club two years ago – is responsible for bringing order and safety back to the city.
According to Ruth, the mobile patrol unit has been instrumental this summer in reducing the number of local bank robberies, shootings and carjackings while serving as a crime deterrent at historically-violent Elmhurst events like “Block to Block” and “Music at the Gazebo”.
“The officers who work the mobile unit are out on the streets and bike paths every day, preventing crime and ensuring the safety of our citizens,” said Ruth, noting that the unit’s capabilities go beyond crowd control. “They’re chasing leads, shaking down suspects, and rendezvousing with informants just like the rest of our officers.”
Despite its overall success, the Summer Mobile Patrol Unit has seen its share of unique challenges in crime prevention. The department was forced to cancel its “Mobile Unit Ride-Along” program in early June after several participants fell from the handlebars of police bicycles during routine neighborhood patrols, and public records reveal that the department has accrued more than $400 in Uber charges this summer transporting suspects back to the police station.
Chief Ruth believes that the unit will overcome its deficiencies and continue to succeed in preventing crime.
“We look forward to growing the unit even more,” said Ruth, who revealed that the department is finalizing a deal with an undisclosed traveling carnival for a pair of Percheron horses and eight unicycles to boost the Summer Mobile Patrol Unit in 2019. “Giving our officers a height advantage over crowds will allow them to observe a wider area.”