A couple of signs of early August in Calumet City caught my attention recently.
One was the amazing procession of thousands (not an exaggeration) of mostly Polish Catholics who make an annual procession from St. Michael the Archangel church in South Chicago to the Our Lady of Czestochowa shrine (the Black Madonna) in Merrillville.
In Calumet City, the procession comes south on Burnham Avenue and turns east on Sibley Boulevard which means the throng marches very near my house as I live not a hundred feet from Sibley.
I see the procession most every year because I am usually catching up with some outdoor house-oriented project — good homeowner that I am. This year it was the windows.
As the amplified sounds of the Polish hymns and folk songs caught my attention, I took respite from my labors to watch the entire procession as well as the reactions of other folks who watched.
There were varied reactions to the spectacle. Though there were some unhappy faces of motorists who were greatly slowed down by the passage of thousands of pilgrims occupying more of Sibley Boulevard than they left open, the most common expression would best be described as amazement. Some of the neighborhood kids waved and recorded the event on their cell phone cameras.
The whole scene was pretty cool.
In a time of declining church attendance it is still obvious that many folks have a high level of religious fervor and aren’t above displaying it in a very public way.
The other event of early August is the National Night Out Against Crime. Calumet City has participated in the nationwide event for several years.
The city, the Police Department, and the park district organize the event which consists of a short march around a neighborhood — this year the Downey Park area — with signs and chants denouncing crime.
There also are some eats and a lot of meets and greets. Officials of the city government, the Calumet Memorial Park District, and commanders and rank and file of the Calumet City Police Department are on hand to make contact with the people who come out, mostly people from the neighborhood.
I doubt if much crime is deterred by the event. But if does serve a worthwhile purpose. The “meets and greets” if done well, should improve the connections between the residents and those who are elected and hired to provide services and security to those residents. From what I observed, it looked like that was happening.
I was heartened by the words a young mother said to her sons as they inspected one of the police vehicles on display at the event. She said something like I don’t ever want to see you in the back of that vehicle ... I want to see you driving that vehicle.
Crime in our city, state, and country is a massive and complex and contradictory problem. How does the richest and in some ways the most advanced nation on earth have a crime and incarceration rates that surpass all other advanced nations?
The answer to the question is tied up in a tangle of historic, economic, and sociological realities. But a little event like the one at Downey Park can just maybe contribute a little in finding an answer.
Thanks for reading.