Elmhurst 7-Elevens Brace for Onslaught of Munchie-Seeking ‘420’ Customers

Elmhurst Celebrates 420
Elmhurst residents are expected to consume an estimated 2,500 Slurpees and 1,700 Taquitos during the counterculture holiday “420”.

by Dave Noble, City News Editor

ELMHURST – Fully staffed with two cashiers scheduled for each shift and prepared to serve a staggering number of candy bars, Slurpees and anything spinning on hot metal rollers behind the counter, local 7-Eleven stores are expecting a record-breaking day of sales Saturday as an estimated 10,000 Elmhurst residents participate in the counterculture holiday “420” by smoking marijuana.

Often referred to as “Weed Day” and observed on April 20th each year, “420” is when people are invited to celebrate the cannabis culture by smoking pot.  With only three 7-Eleven stores in Elmhurst, those who participate will have limited options to satisfy their strong urge for snacks (or “munchies”) that experts say coincides with getting high.

“We’ll be busy all day and all night,” said Spring Rd. 7-Eleven clerk Stan Jenkins, stocking an auxiliary snack kiosk with packages of Twinkies and 7-Select brand beef jerky Thursday evening.  “It’s like ‘Black Friday’ for convenience stores, except nothing is on sale, and no one is in a big hurry.”

At the First St. 7-Eleven, Assistant Overnight Manager Sanjay Thompson is also preparing for a record-breaking day in sales, despite being located only a half-block from the Elmhurst Police Department.

“We’ll probably sell about 700 Slurpees on Saturday,” said Thompson, referring to the slushy frozen carbonated beverage favored by hopheads that comes in a variety of tantalizing flavors like Pineapple-Lime and Sour Patch Watermelon.  “People like to mix the flavors together when they’re stoned, and they make a big mess.  So I’ll probably be over there cleaning up spills throughout my shift.”

Over at the York St. 7-Eleven, franchise owner Frank Strada will act as the second counter clerk from 4:00 p.m. Saturday until 3:00 a.m. Easter Sunday.

“It’s a tough day to schedule staff, because no one wants to work on April 20th,” said Strada, who noted that eye drops and disposable lighters will account for most of the non-consumable purchases at his store on Saturday. “But when you’re selling about 50 Taquitos per hour, you gotta have a second person behind the counter.  So I’m filling in.”

Other local businesses that expect to see an increase in the number of customers on “420” include Pizza Palace, The Escape Room, and the Elmhurst Police Department.

Critics Cite Traffic Concern for Location of Elmhurst Performing Arts Center

Elmhurst Centre for Performing Arts pic

by Dave Noble, City News Editor

ELMHURST – Increased vehicle congestion, a glaring lack of space outside of the building to host red carpet events, and the potentially arduous task of finding customer parking for Armand’s Tuesday night “buy one, get one free” pizza deal are among the concerns of Elmhurst residents who oppose a theater and performing arts center in the middle of town.

Slated to be built at 109-119 W. 1st St. and completed by early August, The Elmhurst Centre for Performing Arts will be a 50,000-square-foot, multistage facility and a “vibrant gathering place” that showcases tolerable homegrown talent, finer area talent, and hosts events like the yearly Elmhurst Mime Theatre Awards.

While critics welcome a new venue suitable for regional pantomime productions, area rap artist performances and local awards shows, they are opposed to its location along the single-lane, one-way street already teeming with vehicles in search of parking or taking the “drive of shame” to the Robert T. Palmer underpass after getting stopped by a passing train while traveling on Addison St.

“There’s nowhere near enough parking in downtown Elmhurst for a venue like this,” said local resident Cindy Sommers, seemingly unaware of four different existing parking garages within a three-block radius and a Metra train station directly across the street from the future performing arts center.  “I can’t imagine how chaotic that area will be when the Elmhurst Armpit Orchestra or some other big-name artist plays there.”

While many Elmhurst residents remain critical of the performing arts center location, proponents and artists point to a projected $809,000 in annual tax revenue and a study prepared by Chicago-based Johnson Consulting indicating that the average patron visiting the theater will spend $49.50 a night in restaurants, bars, and stores and an additional $25 in parking tickets.

“                                                                                      ,” said local mime Marcel Podgorski, indicating his excitement to perform at the arts center through a series of body motions, hand gestures and facial expressions.

In related news, the City of Elmhurst announced that the privately-funded arts center will result in a $150 tax increase for every homeowner in Elmhurst.

Brooks Bites: You Shouldn’t Have Leftovers, But You Do – St Paddy’s Edition

by Tom Brooks, Elmhurst Funion Food and Dining Editor

ELMHURST – Now that St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, it’s time to tackle one of the greatest challenges for a suburban chef:  what to do with all those leftovers.  I’m talking about the mountains of boiled potatoes, stewed cabbage, and overcooked carrots in the refrigerator following St Patrick’s Day.

We all love a good New England Boil this time of year – and each of the six grocery stores in town does a fantastic job of shoving the loss-leader pickled brisket in our faces for at least three weeks before Drunken Leprechaun Day – but we inevitably over-prepare.   And although most of us will never forget Aunt Eileen finishing off that bottle of Jameson and the table dance that followed, none of us remembered the excessive volume of food prepared for Paddy’s Day last year and of course piled it on once more for 2019.

So, what do we do with all the corned beef and trimmings taking up valuable real estate in the fridge?  Besides waiting until the middle of April and throwing it all away, there are other options.  And I’m going to share some of them with you.

Starting with the corned beef, as the solution is the easiest.  You eat it.

Seriously, how do you have leftover corned beef?  I suppose it’s possible that everyone passed out before it was finished, but then you toss a fried egg on it in the morning and keep shoveling it in.  There should never be any corned beef left by the end of lunch on the 18th.  If there is, you don’t food correctly and you should probably stop reading.  But don’t stop reading, because there are advertisements below and I don’t get paid unless you see them all.

Potatoes are also pretty easy to utilize.  As a fairly flavorless, colorless, and shapeless entity, cooked potatoes can be snuck into just about anywhere.  Making soup?  Toss a handful of boiled spuds into the blender to thicken things up.  Whipping up some banana-coconut smoothies?  Same deal.  Ran out of mayonnaise?  Spread some smashed taters on that ham and Swiss and keep rocking out the lunch prep.  Crack in the wall from where someone hit their head when Clog Dancing went awry?  Mashed potatoes will spackle that almost as well as cream of wheat.

Dealing with cabbage can get tricky.  Mostly because cabbage is kinda gross.  But it’s the only thing our starving ancestors had, so now it’s traditional, and there’s 13 cubic feet of it taking up beer storage space in the refrigerator.

You can always to go the Thanksgiving route and just make cabbage versions of everything like I would for the week and a half worth of turkey remnants:  cabbage soup, cabbage stew, cabbage marmalade, cabbage coffee-creamer, cabbage contact solution…

But there are some international solutions to an excess of cabbage as well.  Many cultures around the world utilize various fermentation methods to extend the lifespan and viability of cabbage.

Take Korean cooking for example.  Season that leftover cabbage with salt and hot peppers, stuff it into a bamboo vessel, and bury it in the back yard.  That wicker basket full of outdated seed catalogs in your living room should work well enough.  After a period of time, the Koreans unearth the bamboo vessel, which by now has fermented into Kimchi (a spicy and tangy condiment that can add depth and flavor to most any savory dish).

Don’t do that though.  Just leave it in the ground.  The smell should dissipate by summer and you can forget about that disastrous culinary experimentation and just buy sauerkraut in a can like a normal suburbanite.

All that’s left now are those mushy carrots the recipe said to add to the giant kettle you boiled the beef in.  Um, yeah.  Throw those away. Those aren’t meant to be eaten.  They just flavor the water.   I don’t know why people put those on the table.  You boiled a vegetable for FOUR HOURS; there is no longer any redeemable nutritional or epicurean value in them.  Why would you serve them?

I hope everyone had a Happy St Patrick’s Day, and remember:  Craic is good times, Crack kills.

Six Paczki Day Options in Western Suburbs: Ranked

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by Tom Brooks, Elmhurst Funion Food and Dining Editor

ELMHURST – Although there are about 37 different acceptable pronunciations for the word “Paczki”, none of them sounds anything like how it’s spelled.  Regardless of how you pronounce it, a Paczki is a true Polish doughnut that should have a rich, eggy, brioche style dough with a sweet filling.

I know the traditional Paczki has powdered sugar, and that most of the legit Polish joints will dust them.  But the glazing is totally an Americanized thing, and is simply my preference.  The one thing I have real problems with is when a place decides to go traditional – yet wants to make the suburbanites happy – so they dump a quarter inch of powdered sugar on them.  It’s a mess, and the first bite sucks all of the moisture out of your mouth and you can’t swallow for 17 minutes.

Using the classic raspberry filling as a controlled variable, I’ve assigned a rating of 1-10 for the quality of the filling along with the body and the coating of Paczki’s available throughout various bakeries in the western suburbs of Chicago.  A “10” is being “manna from heaven”, and a “1” means that a Haggis (a Scottish dish consisting of a sheep’s or calf’s offal mixed with suet, oatmeal, and seasoning and boiled in a bag) is a better doughnut.

My Paczki ratings do not include the following places, for the following reasons:

Mariano’s (678 N. York St, Elmhurst) did not have any available at press time. However, this was due to staffing issues and should be resolved by Paczki Day.

 Courageous Bakery (108 W. Park Ave., Elmhurst) will only have them available on Fat Tuesday, so I will not be able to add them to this project.  Their Pączki are highly regarded, and pre-ordering is recommended.

Whole Foods (215 S, IL-83, Elmhurst) did not have any in store due to inventory requirements. They are expected in, however one employee thought they would likely be on the same delivery as the Irish soda bread on the 6th.  The 6th is Wednesday, which could prove problematic for a Tuesday pastry.

Without further ado, here are my rankings for the Paczki’s I sampled.

#1 – Helen’s Deli (272 W. Irving Park Rd., Wood Dale)
After experiencing the mildly orgasmic pastries available from Helen, I had to evoke the Spinal Tap Clause and take the rating system to 11.  This is what heaven tastes like.  The dough is perfect: rich yet light, chewy yet melting-in-your-mouth butteriness. The raspberry filling; while seeded, surpasses all others as well, with a perfect balance of tartness over sweetness.  And while not glazed (to my momentary disappointment), the powdered sugar was not overdone.  If you need a Polish doughnut for Paczki Day, and can only have one, THIS is the doughnut to get.  Rating: 10.2

#2 – The Lilac Bakery (348 S. Main St., Lombard)
As the first “true” Paczki I had during this endeavor, Lilac holds a special place in my sugar-coated heart.  The body of their contribution is the rich dough that I have now come to realize is what a Paczki should be. Their filling, a respectable seedless raspberry jelly offering, provided a good balance of sweet, and a traditional powdered sugar coating was not over done.  In all, a good representation of what Granny Babcia might have made in the old country. (Editor’s note: veracity of the “Granny Babcia” character has not been verified),  Rating: 8.5

#2 – Leeza Spumoni & Desserts, Inc. (544 S. Spring Rd., Elmhurst)
Very rich egg-based dough, Lezza’s submission was good but held a mild “mass production” sense within the body of the doughnut. It was not so overwhelming as to take away from the overall enjoyment. Raspberry was not available on my visit, substituting strawberry.  A little high on the sweet scale, but good tartness, filling also had bits of strawberries.  Filling was light, but likely just a misfire on that one sample (other flavors purchased were well-filled).  Powdered sugar coating on all available samples except Bavarian, which had the classic chocolate.  Slight loss of points for no glazed option.  Rating: 8.0

 #4 – Central Continental Bakery (101 S. Main St., Mt Prospect)
First off, if I were to grade on appearances and availability, this place would be a runaway victor.  The choices available were staggering, and inventive, and all looked good enough to eat. Well, you know what I mean.  I have not tried any others besides the raspberry at this writing, so it is very possible other flavors would could be rated higher.  In a word, I was disappointed. The raspberry jelly was all sweet and no berry, and it tasted faintly of the 5-gallon plastic bucket I imagine it came from. The dough was more akin to an above average doughnut, lacking the richness and brioche-like essence I’ve come to expect.  And, while not as destructive to the pallet as the aftertaste from Kuppies, there was a lingering sensation of a fryer in need of cleaning.  A slight edge given for their hours.  CCB will be open ALL NIGHT Monday in case you run out several times throughout the early morning hours of Fat Tuesday.  Rating: 7.1

#5 – Clyde’s Donuts (available at Jewel)
A good doughnut body, but nothing special. They have the best filling of my earlier research efforts, seedless and tart but not overly sweet. Glazed for a more American appeal.  An early submission to my project, I have learned much since my initial sampling of Clyde’s.  Clyde’s are not a Paczki.  They are labeled as such, and the boxes are stacked to the ceiling at every Jewel in the weeks preceding Lent to cash in on the Polish phenomenon.  But they are not a Paczki.  A really good doughnut though, and financially one of the better pound-per-dollar options available this week.  Rating: 7.0

#6 – Kuppie’s Bakery (42 S. Villa Ave., Villa Park)
Tested their Bismark as their Pączki will not be available till later in the week.  I was told they are about the same.  Seeded jelly, more sweet than tart, but not overly so.  Body was average doughnut.  Glaze was good, also available in sugared which was less than good.  Both samples had an overpowering bad fryer oil flavor that killed the experience.  Rating: 4.5

“People are just doughnuts.  We might like a certain filling or frosting, but we are all beautiful fried dough.” – Tom Brooks

Elmhurst Husbands Descend Upon Jewel-Osco for Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts

Elmhurst Husband looking at Valentine's Day cards

by Dave Noble, City News Editor

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”.

Wow Condo! ‘The Hill’ is a One-Unit, Five Story Condominium Under Construction in Downtown Elmhurst

Hill Photo 2 cropped.jpg

by Dave Noble, Real Estate Editor

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.

‘Just Ask Kevin’: Does Elmhurst Have Any Fitness Centers?

Gym Story Photo

by Kevin Flanagan, Elmhurst Funion Opinionist

 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 Residents Emerge (Mostly) Unscathed from Polar Vortex

Mail Delivery
A mail carrier delivers much-anticipated utility bills and furniture store catalogs to Elmhurst residents on Tuesday.  The post office did not deliver mail on Wednesday or Thursday due to weather conditions.

by Dave Noble, City News Editor

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.

Opinion: Take a Lesson from “Sled Dog” Brinkmann

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Colin “Sled Dog” Brinkmann


Elmhurst Funion Opinionist Kevin Flanaganby 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.

‘Just Ask Kevin’: Child Causes Sleep Deprivation for Elmhurst Parents

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The “Toe Monster” is a proven way to keep your kids in bed at night.

Knowledgeable of many topics, expert in none.  Just “Ask Kevin”, and have some fun!

Elmhurst Funion Opinionist Kevin Flanagan

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:

  1. He has to quiet once he goes to bed – no yelling for Mommy or Daddy.
  2. 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.

Good luck!

“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 elmhurstfunion@gmail.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.