I moved to Lombard last summer right after 2006 Lilac Time ended, so I was forced to wait an entire year before getting to experience this vaunted event. I thought it was called the Lilac Festival, but my flyer indicates it is merely Time rather than full-blown festival status. After experiencing it, I can see why.
My official Lilac Time program indicates that things kick off on May 5th; however, the first event listed is the Men’s 12” Lilac Tournament on April 28th. I wasn’t paying attention until May 5th, so I missed this event and have no idea what is was. Maybe it was a contest for guys who have grown lilacs exactly one foot in height. Or perhaps a softball tournament, although real men in the Chicago area play 16” softball exclusively. Twelve inch is for girls and the rest of the country. I suppose I’ll try to find out next year.
Another event on Lilac Time Eve May 4th was the Little Lady Lilac Ball at the Community Building. I considered covering this event, but from the sounds of it I would have likely been put on a sexual predator list since it was for Daddies and their daughters and I didn’t have a date. I stayed clear despite the temptation of the sundae bar.
The Time officially kicked off on Saturday, May 5th with Lilacia Park opening to the public at 9 a.m. This is confusing since the park is open to the public year round 24 hours a day. I guess this just marks the temporary admission fee of $2 for any non-residents that want to look at our lilacs. Oh, what is Lilacia Park? I skimmed a story a while back and I think it goes something like this: Colonel Plum, apparently a cohort of Colonel Mustard of the board game Clue fame, settled in Lombard and hogged a bunch of prime downtown real estate for himself. After he got done Colonel-ing wherever he did that, he settled into the Plum estate where he was relentlessly nagged by Mother Plumtree for sitting around all day playing on his telegraph machine. So to get away from that he took up gardening and became obsessed with lilacs and covered the town in them just like Johnny Appleseed. Except it was lilacs instead of apples. Eventually the Plums kicked the bucket and their kids didn’t want to take care of all the damn lilacs so they pawned them off on the village, which converted the estate to Lilacia Park and now charges exorbitant vehicle registration fees in order to raises money to pay for the upkeep. But I digress. On the first official day, there is also the Lilac Queen Coronation which I boycotted since I never even got a chance to vote for her. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony. There was also a free concert from a band called the Salty Dogs. I couldn’t find any info on them and skipped it after assuming they were chosen with the village demographic in mind (average resident age: 87).
The following day, they closed down our street for the Lilac Time Art & Craft Fair. My mom is into that stuff, so I invited her out and offered to walk around with her and see if I could scam her into buying me a corn dog. However, she’s always a step ahead of me and feigned pneumonia and even checked into the hospital to avoid going with me. I refused to be shown up, so I went alone and spent some time perusing bad homemade jewelry and sex toys made out of corn cobs. I wasn’t able to identify a lot of the product offerings, so that’s just a guess. I skipped the Breeze concert in the park that day – not exactly the type of band you find on myspace, but I did spend a few minutes listening to the local high school jazz band at the Art & Craft Fair. They sounded exactly like you would expect a local high school jazz band to sound like, but drew a polite crowd of parents, boyfriends and girlfriends.
The next major event was the Old Fashioned Tea Party on Wednesday, May 9th. Unfortunately I was in the throes of stomach flu and didn’t want to infect the March Hare or the Mad Hatter. Instead I stayed home and nibbled on the mushroom in my pocket.
Friday, May 11th brought the annual Lilac Ball at The Carlisle. Some balls are held for charity and some for fancy dress, but when they're held for pleasure they're the balls that I like best. However, I couldn’t get a date and was too ashamed to go stag, so I just stayed home with the flu and puked in a bucket.
The next day they offered a watercolor class in the park, but I got kicked out for asking the instructor when the nude models were going to show up. The class sucked anyway – my canvas didn’t have any outlines or numbers on it. What a gyp. I was so disappointed that I no longer felt like swing dancing and skipped the free Bopology concert in the park.
Sunday was Mother’s Day and the Mother’s Day Brunch but there was no way I was going to get stood up by my mom again. She was on her own this time. Instead I told my sister I’d pitch in if she’d take mom to Subway for lunch or something. I had planned on hitting the last free concert featuring Bill O’Connell’s Chicago Skyliners, however I got stuck behind a cadre of fans with walkers and canes and by the time we arrived Bill and the boys were already packing up. They were also featuring a trolley tour of historic homes, but I feared accidentally ending up in the Neighborhood of Make Believe under the tyrannical rule of King Friday, so I just went home, changed into my sneakers and sweater and fed my fish.
Thursday, May 17th was the Teddy Bear Tea for children ages 2-1/2 to 6 years old. Children either frighten or annoy me, so I stayed well clear of the Tea Party for the ankle-biters and their germ-ridden teddy bears. I’m sure it was frickin’ adorable.
The only event on Friday was a Beer Tasting – “Enjoy a sampling of many types of beer and learn what makes them delicious.” The educational aspect appears to have been lost on most attendees – as I walked by the park later that night I found the gardens littered with dudes in George Thorogood concert t-shirts munching on the lilac bushes.
The following morning started out with the Mutt Strut 5k, which I thought was a benefit for some animal shelter but was actually a 5k for dogs. As expected, the dog from Kenya won by a considerable margin. The rest of the day was designated as Kid’s Day in Lilacia Park, which obviously meant that I fled to surrounding communities until it was over. I noted there was a Wine Tasting that evening, most likely for the parents that were unable to flee and spent the day watching family entertainer Circus Boy under duress.
The final day of Lilac Time, Sunday, May 20th, would culminate with the 2007 Lilac Parade. It was a cool, party cloudy day and I parked my bony ass on a retaining wall across from the Dairy Queen on Main Street. Very Norman Rockwell. All the citizens of Lombard proudly lined the Main Street, pulled their folding chairs out of their respective bags, and pretended to be entertained by the ensuing stream of emergency vehicles, beaten down marching bands, khaki-sporting politicians in convertibles, and a few attempts by YMCA clubs to make floats out of scavengered construction materials from local condo developments. It was all lame to a high degree, but I guess it gave everyone a chance to shut off their televisions, leave their homes, and pretend that they lived in that Norman Rockwell painting even though it looked more like a Picasso to me.
But, hey, the lilacs did smell really swell at full bloom a couple weeks ago. Thanks, Colonel Plum.