Elmhurst Police Issue Final Warning to ‘The Knife Sharpener Man’


by Dave Noble, City News Editor

ELMHURST – Stating that neighborhood sidewalks are not the place for using machetes, daggers and mortuary swords, Elmhurst Police Chief Michael Ruth told reporters gathered in the 600 block of S. Parkside Ave. on Wednesday that his department has ordered “The Knife Sharpener Man” to cease and desist from performing tricks and exhibitions for residents that involve any type of sharp instrument. The man Ruth was referring to is blade-edger Tony Del Ciello, who appears regularly around Elmhurst neighborhoods each summer and charges a small fee to sharpen things like kitchen knives, garden shears, and lawnmower blades.

“We received eight phone calls this week from people who said ‘The Knife Sharpener Man’ sliced off their mailbox with a Samurai sword,” said Ruth, “And this morning we caught him over at The Farmer’s Market throwing switchblades at apples atop people’s heads. We’re just trying to keep the city safe.”

While the residents of Elmhurst embrace the 73-year-old Italian from Oak Park and his ability to flatten the tire of a moving vehicle with a ninja throwing star, Ruth wants Del Ciello to limit his services to knife sharpening and refrain from performing stunts like “The William Tell” and “The Devil’s Door” while conducting his business in town. Elmhurst residents think Chief Ruth is getting a little too worked-up over nothing.

“My five-year-old son got his first butterfly knife from Mr. Del Ciello the other day,” boasted S. Washington St. homeowner Mary Hilliard. “And I learned how to shape a toothbrush into a shank. I want to marry ‘The Knife Sharpener Man’, not have him arrested!”

Using the shoulder of the Eisenhower Expressway, Del Ciello pushes his large green and red cart from Oak Park to Elmhurst each day and enters neighborhoods ringing a gong to announce his arrival and using a crossbow to fire arrows at doorbells. Some residents have formed a personal relationship with Del Ciello over the years.

“He’s like an Italian version of ‘The Most Interesting Man’,” said Kirk St. resident Tammy Braxton, who has been sleeping on her front lawn for the past three nights in anticipation of Del Ciello’s unknown arrival. “We hired ‘The Knife Sharpener Man’ for my daughter’s birthday party a couple years ago, and now Tony and I follow each other on Instagram. So I know he’s going to come down my block sooner or later.”

The Elmhurst Police Department urges residents to call 9-1-1 if they see Del Ciello performing any knife stunts outside of “The Five Finger Filet”, which Ruth said “is fine”.

Comparison Study: Elmhurst Farmers Market vs. Villa Park French Market

by Dave Noble, Your Business is Our Business Beat Writer
In many ways, they’re very similar:  The Elmhurst Farmers Market and the Villa Park French Market are both open only one day per week during the summer and sell fresh produce, meats and cheeses along with hand-made soaps and other locally grown and manufactured items.  And they both offer entertainment for shoppers.

In other ways, they’re very different:  The Elmhurst Farmers Market appeals to locals looking to create a table accent with a bowl full of carefully placed fruits that are for “display only” and will often never be eaten, while the Villa Park French Market is reminiscent of a European bazaar with locals in search of ready-to-eat Confit de Canard, Black Périgord Truffles, and livestock.  And the vendors speak little or no English.

So how do these two weekly summer shopping options stack up against each other?  The Elmhurst Funion has compiled a list of key variables that will help you decide which market is better:  The Elmhurst Farmers Market, or the Villa Park French Market.

Location of the market

Elmhurst Farmers Market
About a mile south of the skyscrapers and construction-riddled urban jungle of downtown Elmhurst.  The ease of swiftly moving in and out of this section of town without hassle has been documented by a history of successful bank robbery escapes.

Villa Park French Market
Just off The Illinois Prairie Path, shoppers often ride to the market in horse-drawn carriages.

Winner
Villa Park French Market, because Elmhurst parking regulations require Farmers Market shoppers to move their cars every 15 minutes.

Weekday vs. weekend market shopping

Elmhurst Farmers Market
Wednesday morning shopping is a virtual “who’s who” of Elmhurst seniors, stay-at-home moms, and unemployed dads who are eager to discuss the weather and local news.

Villa Park French Market
A typical Sunday draws more people than the Mexican Soccer League Finals at The Odeum Expo Center, making it difficult to maneuver around other shoppers.

Winner
Villa Park French Market, because you can only discuss parking garages, new condo buildings and empty storefronts with your neighbors for a certain length of time before your head explodes.

Noteworthy shopper at the market

Elmhurst Farmers Market
Elmhurst Mayor Steve Morley, who has a reputation of haggling with vendors until he gets the deepest discount possible for jicama and black radishes.

Villa Park French Market
Elmhurst Mayor Steve Morley, loosely disguised with a beret, sunglasses and a scarf.

Winner
Tie.

Creative display of merchandise

Elmhurst Farmers Market
Raw vegetable arrangement depicting the York High School football stadium.

Villa Park French Market
Foie gras shaped into a 5-ft. high replica of the Eiffel Tower.

Winner
Elmhurst Farmers Market, because foie gras is gross.

Live entertainment

Elmhurst Farmers Market
Acoustic guitarist performing covers of John Cougar Mellencamp songs.

Villa Park French Market
A mime.

Winner
NOT the mime.

How foreigners are treated

Elmhurst Farmers Market
Local residents have a keen eye for identifying outsiders, but will generally avoid eye contact and “play dead” if you get too close to them.

Villa Park French Market
Everyone knows the French hate Americans.

Winner
Tie.