Thursday, August 07, 2008

A great weekend for Elgin

Elgin, you rock.

Last weekend’s Fox Fire Fest was a prime example of our city’s awesome potential.

The jam-packed line up of music, food, art, fun and fireworks in Festival Park brought an estimated 22,000 people into the downtown area over the course of the three-day event.

I, for one, was giddy on Saturday night looking over the sea of 10,000-plus people jamming to Blues Traveler. So giddy, in fact, that my claustrophobic tendencies weren’t even kicking in. And the streets and bars of downtown were still jamming long after the concert ended.

I saw the future of Downtown Elgin that night, and it was so cool.

I ran into quite a few fellow Elginites over the weekend, and the comment I kept hearing again and again was “Wow, I can’t believe this is Elgin.” Some people might take this is a slam. But I – the eternal optimist – took this as a great compliment. People are recognizing that things are changing, and they are excited and encouraged by what lies ahead.

On behalf of the City and the Downtown Neighborhood Association, I’d just like to say a big thanks to all who volunteered at and attended Fox Fire Fest, and a special thanks to those of you who brought friends and family along to experience Elgin.

And speaking of thanks, I also have to say a huge thanks to all those involved with the Elgin Cycling Classic in Lord’s Park on Sunday, August 3.

The committee’s decision to move the bike race out of downtown and into Lord’s Park in lieu of Fox Fire Fest and construction traffic turned out to be a great one. More than 200 cyclists from all over Northern Illinois and beyond competed in the race for more than $12,000 in cash prizes.

Cyclists and spectators alike enjoyed the course, and the air-conditioned Lord’s Park Pavilion was a welcome change from holding registration in a stuffy parking garage in previous years.

I have to admit that I was surprised at how exciting a criterium-style bike race can be, and it has nothing to do with bike shorts. Okay, maybe it has a little to do with bike shorts. But seriously, I can now call myself a cycling fan. And if I didn’t look ridiculous in the helmet, I would even take up the sport.

The Elgin Cycling Classic would not have been possible without the help and support of the residents in the Lord’s Park neighborhood and the congregation of El Mesias United Methodist Church. Thank you for being so accommodating about the closed streets and the detours.

Though I am always proud to call Elgin home, I was bursting with pride last weekend with all the exciting things happening here. And there is so much more to come.

Grab your shades, people. Our city’s future is looking really bright.

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