CHICAGO | Perhaps it was appropriate that the sounds of Annunciata Fest, including a cover band trying to impersonate the music of the Rolling Stones and Santana, could be heard in the air while officials dedicated a street for a long-time neighborhood pastor.
For that pastor, the late Rev. Paul Cullen, was a big fan of the festival, held every August in the East Side neighborhood, seeing it as an event that brought the community together.
What also brought the community together Saturday was a dedication of 111th Street between Avenue H and Avenue G, giving it the honorary name of Rev. Paul Cullen Way. That block is the one in which the Church of the Annunciata, 3747 E. 111th St., is located.
A crowd of nearly 80 was pleased to see the new brown street signs paying tribute to Cullen, whose 46 years as a Catholic priest included 12 years at Annunciata. Cullen died Feb. 10 at age 72.
His death caused long-time parishioner Henry Soltysinski to contact the Knights of Columbus, who then contacted 10th Ward Alderman John Pope, who got the City Council last month to approve a resolution creating the honorary street name for Cullen.
Pope said he will remember Cullen as a man with a sense of humor.
“The only thing missing is a very good joke. Father Paul cornered the market in that area.”
The alderman said he believes Cullen would like the idea of his street dedication taking place during the neighborhood festival. Cullen “was such a fan,” Pope said.
Stan Wiejcik, one of the organizers of this year’s Annunciata Fest, pointed out a chair where Cullen would sit, helping people count up tickets sold and proceeds from the event. That chair on Saturday had a picture button of Cullen pinned to it.
On a more serious note, several people said Cullen was instrumental in maintaining the school run by the parish when cuts by the Archdiocese of Chicago threatened to shut it down.
School Principal Carol Miceli said she thinks Cullen is worthy of the street sign tribute.
“It is good that every person who walks by here, rides by here or bicycles past here will see that sign and think of Father Paul,” she said.
And when the street sign dedication ended, Knights of Columbus trustee Michael Ticich urged people to head over to the festival, saying, “We should have a beer for Father Paul, or maybe some tacos.”