PLAINFIELD – Thousands of people gathered for some food, face paint and train rides at the Plainfield Patriotic Picnic Thursday as the event has become a destination point for residents of communities around the village.
For at least the past five years the Plainfield Township Park District has hosted the event, which was held at Plainfield Central High School and is a precursor to fireworks.
“When we stopped hosting Plainfield Fest, we still had to give the community fireworks,” said park district Director of Recreation Cheryl Crisman, who was directing people to the attractions at the pre-fireworks picnic. “This whole day is a great way to just give back to the community.”
Zander Scholz, an 11-year-old who comes every year for his father’s business, said he looks forward to the picnic every year.
“So many people died,” Scholz said about the military. “It’s to honor those troops.”
Five giant inflatable rides lay at the east end of the high school’s south parking lot close to a food stand.
Emergency vehicles were on display for kids to climb in and experience the thrill of what police, fire, SWAT and EMT personnel face on the job. Kids yelled out as a Life Flight helicopter landed south of the parking lot, allowing kids to check out the flight equipment.
A line extended from a tent where park district staff drew face art on kids. And a station allowed families to sign up with Holiday Wishes to Troops.
Courtney Rodriguez filled out a holiday card that will go to a soldier on Christmas.
“It’s to tribute the troops,” Rodriguez said, adding that she has a cousin in the military and a good friend recently returned from duty. “It just really hits the spot.”
Rodriguez lives in Joliet, but decided to come to Plainfield for her Independence Day celebrations.
“The atmosphere here is a little better,” she said.
It was the first time coming to the picnic for Richie Aparri, who has lived in Plainfield with his wife for the last eight years.
“I usually go to the stadium in Joliet,” Aparri said. “But it’s always so crowded. It’s nice here. You have got everything for the kids.”
It was 16-year-old Yasmine Washington’s first time at the picnic too. She came with her cousin and friends to show her baby sister the fireworks.
“I expected it to be small,” the Plainfield Central student said. “It’s good. I like the bouncy castle.”
For Washington, Independence Day is not just about the fireworks.
“It’s a day where we just eat a lot too,” she said.