With the Halloween witching hour fast approaching, many brave souls will be making the trek out to Resurrection Cemetery to get spooked by the ghostly specter of the fair-haired “Resurrection Mary.” This well-known ghost reportedly has been sighted around a stretch of Archer Avenue dating back to the 1930s.
While Resurrection Mary gets much of the notoriety, Forest Park’s Jewish Waldheim Cemetery can also lay claim to a ghostly presence—the Flapper Ghost. This attractive apparition is rumored to have a brown bobbed hair-do and a “Flapper” dress from the Roaring Twenties. Like Mary, she was quite active during the Depression era, particularly around the Century of Progress Exhibition in 1933.
It’s been said that the Flapper Ghost would frequent the old Melody Mill Ballroom at 24th and DesPlaines in North Riverside to ask smitten young men for a ride to the cemetery caretaker's house. But when they dropped her off by the cemetery gates, she would disappear into thin air!
The Melody Mill closed down in 1984 and the last documented sighting of the “Flapper Ghost” was in 1979, but that isn’t stopping the ever-creative Village of Forest Park from hosting its first annual “Flapper Ghost Casket Races” on Saturday, October 27th. The event has attracted a total of 16 teams of 4 casket rollers with one rider. They will push off promptly at 9:30 a.m. from Beloit Avenue, just south of Madison Street.
Laurie Kokenes, Executive Director of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce, said she saw that Manitou Springs, Colorado hosts the “Emma Crawford Coffin Race” and thought a similar event would be a perfect fit for Forest Park—a town that has 33 dead to every 1 living resident!
Kokenes noted that teams are “really into this” with both Forest Park residents and merchants competing against other town’s teams including the Village of Oak Park Fire Department. Residents are equally enthusiastic about the event. Longtime village booster Sue Adams said that, “I am looking forward to the casket races because it is the first one and I am anxious to see what people have done!”
The Flapper Ghost Casket Race helps kick off a fun-filled day in the west suburban village. After the casket race winner has been crowned, Forest Park will host a “Trick or Treat Madison Street” as local merchants along the thoroughfare pass out Halloween treats to all costumed children.
“Trick or Treat Madison Street” runs from noon until 2 p.m. and it’s safe to say that many of the legal age attendees will be enjoying liquid treats of their own at several of the local watering holes that line Madison Street. Adams anticipates plenty of “different parties in the bars” with a diverse assortment of colorful costumes throughout the day and night.
At 3 p.m., the action moves west to the Forest Park Picnic Grove at 7820 W. Madison Street when the Village hosts its first annual “Ghoulin’ in the Grove.” Like so many other free events held in this location, fun’s in store for everyone. The list of activities ranges from food treats and liquid libations to live music by Sundance and an all ages costume contest.
“Ghoulin’ in the Grove” will also host a 16-team beanbag tournament with a $10 per person buy-in and 100% payout. To register, please call Vanessa Moritz at 708-615-6202. And if you feel like getting on your “high horse” for Halloween, sign up on site for the inflatable pony races. There is no registration fee and $25 gift cards will be awarded to both pony race and costume contest winners.
With all these fun Halloween activities on tap, there’s no way that anyone could ever characterize the Village of Forest Park as “dead” despite the predominance of cemeteries in the area!