My turn

VictorFest is a lesson in community spirit

2013-08-01T00:00:00Z VictorFest is a lesson in community spiritGeorge Grenchik Times Columnist
August 01, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Have you ever had this experience?

You’re involved in preparing a major event. It takes a ton of your time and a massive effort. It causes a load of worry and anxiety. A bunch of things and people have to come through to make the event a success. And then ... bang — it happens, and what seemed like forever to prepare for is come and gone in a heartbeat.

And when your efforts turn out to be successful, you tend to forget the difficulties and disagreements that are part and parcel of putting on any large event involving many others.

I’m sure many of you can relate to the scenario I described. And such was my experience with our parish festival/carnival known as VictorFest of which I was co-chairman.

Well the event was held last weekend and by most any measure, St. Victor parish’s VictorFest was a success. Not just because it made money for the church, although that’s important, but because it created a great spirit of working together among the more than 100 volunteers who were young and old, Hispanic, and black and white. Help came from folks whose families were some of the first St. Victor families and from those who have just recently joined the parish community.

There was help from the city, and the park district and the township. And financial support was rendered by businesses big and small.

I’m sure this happens with other churches and groups, at least I hope so, but it’s cool to look back and see how cooperation is possible among many individuals and groups and entities who can work together to produce a satisfying and joyful experience for many.

VictorFest is cool too because our attendees — and we had a thousand or more — were fairly representative of our Calumet City community. The black, white, and Hispanic people that make up the population of Calumet City were in evidence. This is as we had hoped and tried to accommodate by having ethnic food specialties and a diversity of music, from mariachi and other Hispanic groups, to doo wop, to rock, and even a special appearance from Elvis. (One regret ... I never announced that Elvis has left the tent.)

With a carnival for four nights as part of VictorFest, there was some worry about security issues. But happily, as last year, none materialized.

Sometimes the hardest thing about having a great big party is cleaning up. This year, not so much.

We asked and received help from the Cook County Sheriff Department’s SWAP program. The acronym stands for Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program. This program allows small-time offenders an opportunity to do approved community service work in lieu of less pleasant alternatives.

The ladies and gentlemen who came to St. Victor through this program were also like the community in that there were younger and older, male and female, and black, Hispanic, and white. One was even a neighbor who had attended VictorFest and found doing community service easier than paying for a traffic violation.

The crew that came to St. Victor was a pleasant, cooperative, and hard-working group of people. Even though I only spent a few hours with them, I believe they would go a long way in dispelling a lot of stereotypes.

Anyway, if you came to VictorFest, thank you. I hope you had a great time. And if you didn’t ... VictorFest ‘14 is just around the corner.

Thanks for reading.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. George Grenchik is a longtime Calumet City resident and retired instructor at Bishop Noll Institute in Hammond. He can be reached at

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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