Yes, Peoria! | Neighborhood Fireworks

Yes Peoria

LINDA & STEVE FAIRBANKS

“Yes, Peoria!” We love living in this big city that acts like a small town. One example of this is the access to local government. Peoria is small enough that average residents have fairly easy access to elected leaders and city staff at open government meetings. As an example, last December we learned the Peoria Park District was going to cut $14,000 from its budget for the annual 3rd of July fireworks at Glen Oak Park on the East Bluff. We attended the Peoria Park District Board meeting to express opposition to elimination of this very popular and long-standing patriotic neighborhood event. Resident Lisa Fisher stepped up and gave a brief, heartfelt presentation about the sense of community engendered by the fireworks, which attracts thousands of people to Glen Oak Park each year. It is a family tradition for many, who come to enjoy music from the Peoria Municipal Band before the fireworks.

Steve followed Lisa to add our support. The board discussed the pros and cons a bit and then voted to preserve funding for the fireworks. Although several board members said they did not support cutting funds for the fireworks, we surmised that had residents not attended the meeting to express their opposition, the fireworks would likely have been eliminated. Yes, Peoria!

We stuck around after the vote to listen to board discussion on a proposed increase in golf fees at one of Peoria’s three municipal golf courses. After all the fuss about $14,000 for fireworks, we were surprised to learn the Park District budget allocates $1 million in public tax dollars to subsidize golf courses. One woman expressed opposition to a fee increase because it would be too much for her and her kids to play golf. They live in Chillicothe and come to Peoria to golf because the fee is affordable. The board voted to keep the fee at its current level and continue to subsidize golf courses.

So here is a little background on how we came to be Peorians. Steve grew up in Chicago, Linda in Quincy. Both of us attended ISU, though at different times, and our journalism degrees landed us jobs in the Peoria area. You really learn a lot about a community from that viewpoint.

We’ve collectively lived in the following cities/towns: Canton, Bartonville, Morton, Green Valley, Peoria, West Peoria, Chicago, and Quincy in Illinois. Outside of Illinois we’ve lived in Seguin, Texas and San Diego, Calif. We’ve collectively traveled to the following countries – Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Mexico, Philippines, and Vietnam.

We had both lived lots of places and had seen plenty of the world when our lives intersected in 2000. Given all the options, where would we decide to call home for our blended family? We could have chosen those towns, or Germantown Hills, Dunlap, Metamora, Chicago, or Quincy or really anywhere our careers could take us.

We chose Peoria. Yes, Peoria!

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