The organizers of Lake Bluff’s 125th anniversary next year are starting to announce some of the planned activities and say they hope more are on the way.
A follies-type show, which promises some inward jokes at the village’s expense, is set for mid-September 2020, and a concluding party highlighted by fireworks, food, games and music is scheduled for Sept. 26 at Blair Park.
Similar events helped celebrate the village’s centennial in 1995.
New for the 125th anniversary is a “Dogs on Parade” where both real dogs and likenesses will be seen throughout village streets. It will be reminiscent of the 1999 Chicago “Cows on Parade.”
“It will be our version of the cows,” said Mark Dewart, chairman of the 125th anniversary steering committee, which is sponsored by the Lake Bluff History Museum.
The events will start in January. Other ideas under consideration include a community reading of one specific book, a winter carnival or a youth cleanup day on the beach, and a community day of service, Dewart said.
The committee is looking for funding for a legacy gift to enable residents to have a GPS-guided tour of bronze plaques with historical information at significant points in the village.
“Lake Bluff folks are really tuned into their history and this would be able to perpetuate and support that history and create involvement,” Dewart said. “This would not be a passive thing.”
He is aiming to lock down celebratory events and dates by around Thanksgiving, he said.
“We want to create activities that will be fun for everyone and people will feel engaged in this entire celebration,” Dewart said.
It will be a chance to tell the story of the village and its evolution over the last 125 years.
In 1895, Lake Bluff was incorporated into a village, 20 years after formation of the Lake Bluff Camp Meeting Association, which was modeled after the Chautauqua adult education movement that was popular at the time, according to Village President Kathleen O’ Hara.
There was a large hotel in the area, attracting thousands of people, but by the late 1800s attendance had steadily fallen, she said.
“By then, the economics were not doing well and not as many were coming, and the camp meeting association did what a government normally would do (in terms of providing services), but they were no longer able to sustain that,” O’ Hara said.
There was a successful movement to incorporate, giving authorities the power to tax and by 1895, Lake Bluff was a freestanding village. It grew from about 700 people to the current population of about 5,700.
“We are coming to celebrate who we are,” O’ Hara said. “And who we hope to be.”