The Myriad Gardens Tulip Festival

Posted in: Club Newsletter, Featured, In The News, Reflections Articles

The Myriad Gardens Tulip Festival
by Ron Page

I’m sure the entire Rotary 29 Club eagerly anticipates my next Reflections article dealing with growing up on a corn farm in northern Illinois, just south of the Wisconsin border. I know that to be true because when I polled a sampling of Rotary members, I was told they were really good, although no one could remember the topic, the message, or when they might have read them. I take that to mean my little essays fit the theme of Rotary so well that my messages just blended right in with “Service Above Self” and all that. The most touching compliment was from the member who vaguely recalled reading one of my articles 30 or so years ago, but was avoiding reading subsequent ones until “the right time”.

But I must disappoint!! Lauren Branch’s article two weeks ago on the topic of “Community” really inspired me to change course, so I am writing about the Myriad Gardens Tulip Festival, a really grand multi-generational, multi-cultural, multi-racial event with tens of thousands of families interacting as people eagerly volunteered to take family photos for strangers struggling to take “selfies”. It was the very definition of “community”.

I am choosing not to bring up stuff from the 1950’s such as to how we had community clubs in our farm communities and how we met in the little one room school houses where farm families enjoyed interacting with other farm families and our moms  brought “dishes to pass”, and how when a child got lost in a cornfield, a call went out to the community and everyone showed up with their flashlights to assist in the search for the lost child without regard for the religion, race, or social status of the family in crisis.

I also won’t describe how  Mr. Gobright got sick and how, although he was somewhat of a ghost in the community (I don’t recall anyone who had as much as seen him), a  dozen farmers on a dozen tractors buzzed right over there to do his spring plowing and disking.

Somehow, that reminds me of the time when we had several nights in a row of 25 below zero temperatures and Dad accidentally superheated a frozen pipe and our house caught on fire on a Sunday morning while my parents and sister were in church and I was home alone and I cranked the ringer on the telephone and told the operator our house was filling with smoke, after which I ran outside to see flames and an enormous black cloud shooting through the roof, and saw the fire truck setting a new speed record on our gravel road, throwing up a rooster-tail of thick dust. Some of the volunteer firemen had jumped from church pew to fire truck wearing their Sunday suit, necktie, and best shoes under their fireman’s coat and overshoes. It is quite possible others were wearing pajamas under their fireman outfits. My pajamas, by the way, were frozen stiff as a board, having been soaked from my frantic efforts to throw water on flames coming out of the wall. Those firemen didn’t check my social, racial, or religious credentials nor did they pause to evaluate the wisdom in risking their lives scampering around on the flaming roof of our old house, at no pay. They just leaped from the truck while it was still skidding to a stop on our front lawn and proceeded to do what they do because that is what you do for your community.

And, I could have written about how the town boys invited Mexicans from the migrant asparagus-cutting camps to participate in baseball games. (If I were to write about it, I wouldn’t mention that part of the reason the town boys did this was our little town didn’t have enough teenage boys available to come up with two full teams.)

Another thing I’m not writing about is one of our town eccentrics, who lived in a tiny house alongside the railroad tracks, who was the self-appointed marshal of our Halloween parade. He wore an actual Keystone Cops-type uniform with a club hanging from the belt. He probably rescued the outfit from salvage decades earlier. He was an “all-business” marshal. There was no kidding around – you stayed in line or else. We just “went with it” and never challenged him. After all, he was part of our community, and we respected that.

Hmmm, I recall being Rotary News Editor a couple time in the 90’s and I’m thinking there is a word limit. Maybe my few introductory remarks used too many words.

Okay, okay – – -The Tulip Festival. Let me just say Alyce and I enjoyed an Easter dinner of  tamales from a food truck, while being entertained by fabulous live music with gorgeous flowers of every color as a backdrop. Maureen Heffernan, Empress of Myriad Gardens and Scissortail Park, said more than 50,000 tulip bulbs were planted. Members of her staff say “way more”. The Tulips put on a magnificent display, but for Alyce and me, the real show was not the flowers, but our community of beautiful smiling people, with all the tiny tots, pausing to examine a flower, then scampering to catch up.

Which reminds me of a picnic at Lowell Park on the Rock River, over by Dixon, or maybe one the picnics at the White Pines a little further north, but I won’t be………………………


2 Comments for : The Myriad Gardens Tulip Festival
    • Meg Salyer
    • April 15, 2024

    Thank you Ron! Love this!!

    • Dick Hefton
    • April 15, 2024

    Please keep not telling stories about the dynamic locale of your nurturing years. We can’t bare thought of the scenes of excited hordes watching gas pumping on Saturday afternoon?

Comments are closed.

Change this in Theme Options
Change this in Theme Options